* 1917 Lawrence, Massachusetts
John Grillo is regarded an important representative of Abstract Expressionism and of New Representation in the 1980s.
John Grillo was born the son of immigrants from Sicily in Lawrence/Massachusetts in 1917. In the 1930s the family moved to Hartford/Connecticut. In 1935 John Grillo enrolled at the Hartford School of Fine Arts where he studied until 1938. Early works by John Grillo still followed the traditions of the Ashcan School, Southern Pacific landscapes were made during the years of the war.
After the war John Grillo began to study at the San Francisco School of Fine Arts in 1946. John Grillo paid for his education with the aid of the "G.I. Bill", a reintegration measure for soldiers who served in WW II. Among his teachers were Mark Rothko (1947) and eventually Hans Hofmann in New York, where John Grillo moved to in 1948.
Arshile Gorky must be mentioned as key source of inspiration for John Grillo's new period of creation, which was geared at Abstract Expressionism at that point. In New York the monochrome rectangulars also found their way into his oeuvre and reveal impulses from Hans Hofmann. Besides with his teacher, John Grillo was also in close contact with other important representatives of the post war avant-garde, such as Willem De Kooning, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko or Alfred Jensen.
In 1961 and between 1964 and 1966 John Grillo taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York, from 1967 to 1991 he taught at the University of Massachusetts. After he had been teaching for some years he temporarily turned his back on abstraction around the mid 1970s. His art became more figurative. Nudes, dance scenes and circus illustrations were made, however abstraction remained an important part of his creation.
Works by John Grillo are in possession of renowned houses, such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the New York Guggenheim Museum. John Grillo lives and works in Wellfleet/Massachusetts.