Faculty News, Institutional News

Painting Studio Named in Honor of Feeley

Today, Bennington College dedicated the Paul Feeley Painting Studio, in honor of the painter who served on the Bennington faculty from 1939 until his death in 1965 and who, in his career as an artist, was a central figure in the U.S. postwar avant-garde.

Feeley has been the subject of 18 solo exhibitions; retrospectives at the Guggenheim, the Walker, and many others that followed; dozens of group exhibitions, including MoMA's celebrated Art of the Real in 1968 and ’69.

Together with the critic Clement Greenberg, he organized the first major exhibitions outside of New York for emerging giants like Jackson Pollock, David Smith, and Hans Hoffmann.

Feeley was instrumental in putting Bennington -- the town and the college -- on the New York cultural map. The artists Anthony Caro, Kenneth Noland, and Jules Olitski settled in the area, drawn by Feeley’s work, and the group became dubbed by art critics the “Green Mountain Boys.” Their explorations of color and “cool” abstraction, heavily influenced by Greenberg, were a rebellion against the emotional “hotness” of Abstract Expressionism, with its high energy splashes and slashes of paint.

Feeley was a dedicated teacher -- “a marvelous teacher,” as one of his most famous students, Helen Frankenthaler ’49 put it. She went on: “as a painter himself he seemed to creatively wrench from his students the questions that he himself wanted answers to; yet steering us, opening up new possibilities.”

“Paul’s deft hand and keen eye fundamentally shaped Bennington in our early years and set the bar for our visual arts program since,” said President Mariko Silver. “It gives me great pleasure to honor his legacy--by naming this studio the Paul Feeley Painting Studio, and by living his values, our values, in the classroom and beyond.”