Michael (Corinne) West 1908-1991

Michael Corinne West (1908–1991), born Corinne Michelle West, is an unsung founder of New York’s Abstract Expressionist movement. The painter and poet was a contemporary of Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline, and her studio practice was intuitive and ever-evolving: It leapt from heavily impastoed Cubist works to large-scale action paintings and explosive, collage-like compositions. Born in Chicago, West studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music before enrolling at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. She later studied under Hans Hofmann in New York. At the suggestion of her friend (and possible lover) Arshile Gorky, West adopted her male moniker in 1941 to avoid gender prejudice. While West was outshone by her male contemporaries during her lifetime, her legacy has been reevaluated in recent years. Her work can be found in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.