biography of Rolph SCARLETT (1881/89-c.1984)

Birth place: Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Death place: Woodstock, NY

Addresses: NYC; Toledo, OH; California; Great Neck; Woodstock, 1953-on

Profession: Painter, designer, printmaker

Studied: Loretto Acad., Guelph, Ontario, 1907; Guggenheim Mus. (scholarship, 1938)

Exhibited: TMA, 1926 (1st prize); Guggenheim Mus.; Guelph, Ontario; Hagemeyer Gal., Pasadena, CA, 1930 (solo); GGE, 1939; Mus. of Non-Objective Painting, 1939; Modern Age Gal., NYC, 1940, 1945; Gal. Réalités Nouvelles, Paris, 1940, 1946-49; Gal. Charpentier, Paris, 1940, 1947; Palais des Beaux-Arts, 1947; Soc. Contemp. Art at AIC, 1948; Univ. of Illinois, 1949; MMA, 1950; Illinois State College, 1951; WMAA, 1951-52, 1999; Seligmann Gal., NYC, 1953, 1973 (solos); Studio Guild, 1955 (solo); Munson-Williams Proctor Institute, 1971; Jarvis Gal., Woodstock, NY, 1973 (solo); Univ. Guelph, Ontario, 1977; Zabriskie Gal., NYC, 1981; Carnegie Inst., 1983; Washburn Gal., NYC, 1982-83, 1988, 1994 (solo); Assoc. Am. Artists, NYC, 1987 (solo); Struve Gal, Chicago,1988, 1990 (solo); Worcester Art Mus., 1991; Phillips Collection, 1992; Hirschl & Adler, 1993 (solo); Woodstock AA, 1993 (solo); Guggenheim Mus., 1996; Gary Snyder Fine Art, 1993, 1995, 1996; National Mus. of Am. Art, Smithsonian, 1997; Fletcher Gal., Woodstock, 1998, 2000 (solos).

Member: Woodstock AA

Work: Guggenheim Mus.; Woodstock AA; WMAA; MoMA; Brooklyn Mus.; Univ. Guelph, Ontario (50 paintings acquired , 1977)

Comments: An important painter of geometric abstractions in the 1930s and 1940s, he came to NYC at the age of 18 but returned to Canada during the war years. He learned the jewelry trade at his father's urging. In 1918 he moved permanently to the U.S. , and returned to NYC in 1924, beginning his career as an abstract painter. In 1929, he went to Pasadena, CA and created stage designs for George Bernard Shaw"s "Man and Superman." In 1936 he settled in NYC, creating modern furniture designs for Design Associate, and planning several pavilions for the WFNY, 1939. In 1940 he designed stage sets for the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Solomon Guggenheim and Hilla Rebay, who in 1939 were in the process of founding the Museum of Non-Objective Painting (later the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum), took an interest in Scarlett's work and by 1940 he became the new museum's chief lecturer. After Guggenheim died in 1949, the museum changed direction toward a more balanced range of 20th century art, and the visibility of Scarlett's work lapsed. By 1953, when Scarlett had become nearly forgotten, the Guggenheim owned sixty of his paintings and monoprints. He continued to paint and make jewelry until his death, and showed his work in Woodstock exhibits.

Sources: WW40; exh. cat., Struve Gal. (Chicago, 1990); Woodstock's Art Heritage, 128-129; American Abstract Art, 197; add'l info. courtesy of Jim Young, Woodstock; Woodstock AA