Kelly Fearing

Six Etchings by Kelly Fearing

Kelly Fearing was one of the first Texas painters to reject the bluebonnets, cowboys and secondhand Impressionism that had been the mainstays of the state’s artistic output since the end of the 19th century. Along with the other members of the Fort Worth Circle, Fearing introduced Texas to European Modernists like Picasso and Miró. He helped introduce the Texas population to abstraction, surrealism and cubism, all new forms of art not previously promoted in the area.

Even in the 1940s, Fearing lived as an openly gay man. Like the later work of gay artist David Hockney, Fearing’s subjects were often pretextual reasons to introduce the subject of homoeroticism into the contemporary art world. One example of this is his 1950 “Male Bather”, an emerging, transitional work influenced by the work of Paul Klee, which exemplifies tthe  theme used by many artists of the time.

In a 2000 interview, Fearing said in reply to a question about the Fort Worth Circle: “We were considered way out at the time. But we were just doing what we liked.” This individualism made Fearing into one of Texas’ most important Modernists.

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