Biography

“My work has been eclectic because I love the contradictions in the world around me, and the richness of those experiences.”

– Easton Pribble     

 

Wilfred Easton Pribble used architectural lines and bright colors to create precisionist-inspired American landscapes, both rural and urban. A successful painter, with a long teaching career, his work was influenced by European modernists like Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse.

 

Pribble was born in Falmouth, Kentucky on July 31,1917 to parents Louise Parker and Thaddeus S. Pribble, and spent most of his childhood in southern Indiana. He studied art at the University of Cincinnati, School of Applied Arts, and after finishing his studies served in the US Army during World War II. After the war Pribble moved to New York City where he began exhibiting works at the Pinacotheca Gallery and the Alan Gallery. He also worked for Henry Heydrenryk, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious framing companies, founded in 1845 in Amsterdam. Pribble was a consultant and designer of hand-made frames at Heydrenryk for eight years.

 

A trip to Italy in the early1950s greatly influenced Pribble’s artistic style and caused him to briefly abandon representational work in favor of the abstract. This was short-lived, however after his return to the Midwest landscapes that stirred him in his youth, he resumed his figural style of painting.

In 1954 Pribble received a working fellowship at the Saratoga Springs artist’s community, Yaddo. In his time there he further explored landscapes, which would remain a favorite theme for the rest of his life. His work from this period was strongly influenced by an appreciation of Cézanne’s landscapes. This style may be seen both in his painting Pine Woods, which is part of the Whitney Museum of American Art collection, as well as May, Ripley County, Indiana that hangs at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The various landscapes of the places Pribble called home and traveled to were frequently the subjects of his canvases – from Southern Indiana to upstate New York to Maine. 

 

Pribble’s long and successful teaching career began in 1954. He was an Instructor in painting, drawing, and art history at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute for forty-five years. He was also dedicated to peace activism and social justice.

 

Pulling from European modernists and Post-Impressionists in his work, Pribble at first creatively struggled with what he was taking from other artists and what was his own. He came to terms with his own style later in life, “I know there are dozens of influences in my present work, but I honestly feel that I finally digested them. I don’t worry about influences any more. Whatever the influences were they have now become so thoroughly a part of me and my lifetime that I can work unselfconsciously.” [1]

 

As many artists before and since have done Pribble sought to convey on canvas his interpretation of the American landscape. Using a “strong structural armature to organize his paintings” [2] in combination with decades of repeated visits to the same sites he was able to bring to us his particular view of America.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Easton Pribble: Paintings and Drawings Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute
[2] Ibid