Philip Perkins

(Tennessean, 1907 – 1970)

Born in Waverly, a small town in west Tennessee in 1907, Philip Perkins became an abstract painter widely acknowledged for his work. He studied at Vanderbilt University in Nashville from 1925 to 1926 and at the Chicago Art Institute from 1926 to 1931. In 1932 he moved to Paris, France and studied with Jean Marchaud and Louis Marcoussis until 1934. He continued his studies with Fernand Leger from 1934 to 1937. In 1934 he exhibited at the Salon d'Automne and the Salon des Tuilleries in Paris. Until 1937, Perkins' work was from nature; he felt that one could not attempt to create form and use color arbitrarily without first going through a long period of discipline of observation. Perkins left Paris in 1940 and moved to New York City where he shared a studio with Surrealist artist Yves Tanguy until around 1945. He is best known for his geometric, cubist influenced work of the forties. While most abstract work used flat unshaded patches of color, Perkins shaded geometric forms through deepening colors to give the work more body and a sense of rhythm. In 1947 he participated in the International Surrealist Exhibition, Galerie Maeght, Paris. Perkins returned to Nashville in 1948 where he taught at the University of Tennessee's Extension School until 1953. Two years later he received a two-year fellowship from the School of International Painting in Sergovia, Spain. For the next four years Perkins lived, painted and exhibited in Spain and on the Isle of Ibiza. During the fifties, his work became more abstract expressionist in style with more spontaneous brush strokes and less distinct forms. It was during the fifties that he began a series of religious work in a semi-abstract style. Perkins returned to Paris to live and paint in 1959 only to return to Nashville again two years later. Philip Perkins died in Nashville in 1970.

  • Studied
  • Hume-Fogg High School, Nashville, Tn
  • Vanderbilt University, 1925-26
  • Art Institute of Chicago, 1926-31
  • With J. Marchaud, Louis Marcoussis and F. Leger in Paris, 1932-37
  • Exhibitions
  • Salon d'Automne & Salon des Tuilleries, Paris, 1934
  • Marquie Gallery, New York City, 1944 (solo), 1946 (solo), 1949 (solo)
  • Galerie Maeght, International Surrealist Exhibit, 1947
  • Randall Gallery, New York City, 1973 (retrospective)
  • Samuel Kootz Gallery, New York City, 1951
  • Parthenon Museum, Nashville, Tennessee, 1967, 1975 (posthumous)
  • References
  • Falk (ed.), Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975
  • Mallett, Mallett's Index of Artists International-Biographical
  • Jones and Hoobler (eds.), Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Portrait Painting in Tennessee, Winter 1987
  • Walker, "Twentieth Century Painting in Tennessee," American Art Review, August 2002
  • Caldwell Jr., Hicks & Scala (et al.), Art of Tennessee
  • Genauer, Best of Art
  • Dunbier (ed.), The Artists Bluebook: 34,000 North American Artists to March 2005
  • Member
  • Nashville Artist Guild, 1950
  • Work
  • Guggenheim Museum
  • Butler Institute of American Art, Ohio
  • De Saisset Museum, Santa Clara, California
  • Parthenon Museum, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Brooks Memorial Art Museum, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
  • University of Tennessee
  • Georgia Museum of Art
  • University of Georgia
  • North Carolina Museum, Raliegh
  • Provincetown Art Association
  • Tennessee Fine Arts Center, Cheekwood, Nashville
  • Epiphany Mission Episcopal Church and Garden, Sherwood, Tennessee,
    1954, (the triptych altarpiece was destroyed in a fire in 1960)
  • Taught
  • University of Tennessee Extension School, Nashville, 1948-53
  • Watkins Institute, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tennessee Fine Arts Center, Cheekwood, Nashville