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Ivan Albright


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(b North Harvey, Ill., 20 Feb. 1897; d Woodstock, Vt., 18 Nov. 1983).

American painter, the son of Adam Emory Albright (1862–1957), a painter who had studied under Eakins. During the First World War Albright served in France as a medical draughtsman and worked with a meticulous detail and clinical precision that anticipated the paintings of his later career, which show a morbid obsession with death and corruption: sagging, almost putrescent flesh (which he described as ‘corrugated mush’), decrepit, decaying objects, and lurid lighting are typical of his work. Often it evokes a feeling of melancholy for a beauty that is past. He came from a wealthy family and his financial independence allowed him to work slowly, producing a small number of elaborate, highly finished paintings. For most of his life he lived in or near Chicago, and the city's Art Institute has the best collection of his works. It includes the painting Albright did for the Hollywood film (1945) of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, showing the loathsomely corrupted title figure; Albright's identical twin brother, Malvin Albright (1897–1983), was commissioned to paint the portrait of the young and beautiful Dorian for this film, but his picture was replaced with one by Henrique Medina (1901–88), a Portuguese artist living in California.

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