Victor De Pauw’s reflection upon “vision” as an impetus is easily understood when you observe the vast and varied expanse of his work. All artists reveal their impressions of the world in their creations, yet Victor De Pauw’s contributions to the art world are as unique and multi-faceted as the man and his life. His early childhood in Vancouver amidst the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains instilled a lifelong passion for the West. His work embraces ethereal pastoral scenes, powerful oils evoking the fierce, unfettered beauty of the West and images of clowns, the rodeo and Indian motifs. Rural subjects would reappear throughout De Pauw’s work, even as he lived as a Manhattan sophisticate. De Pauw’s brushstroke caricatures, still recognizable and celebrated today, captured the legends of stage and screen for publishing icons like Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. With bold, seemingly effortless economy, De Pauw’s airbrush rendered James Cagney, Ethel Barrymore and many other greats with a raw, visceral power. In fact, De Pauw’s drawing style remains characteristic of The New Yorker to this day.

Virtual Galleries of De Pauw’s work are available on CD in the De Pauw Fine Art Store.  They are a fascinating way to appreciate the breadth of his impact on modern art.

De Pauw’s illustration and ultimately his fine art, looked beyond the obvious to show the world a different, and occasionally disturbing, reality. He was the first to portray the evolution of hockey from a venue of tuxedoed gentlemen and prim and proper society ladies to a forum for rather fierce combat with raucous fans. In the January 13, 1940 cover illustration, De Pauw showed the crowd in a wash of brown and depicted the ice a dirty grey – a far cry from the pretty refinement previously depicted.

As he matured, De Pauw’s work became alive with a passion for exploration in style and technique. He spent more than 50 years as an active member of the New York/East Hampton art colonies, and his work reflected the growing influence of New York’s abstract artists – plus a wealth of work on diverse spectrums— beautiful oils and renderings of New England sea- and landscapes, still lifes and stunning pieces that reflect a deep spirituality. De Pauw’s paintings, prints and watercolors have found their way into notable private collections; Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller and Claire Booth Luce were among his early followers. His prints, large canvasses and still life object d’arts remain highly collectible.

In viewing the whole of victor De Pauw’s immense lifetime production, you will see an artist who explored and excelled at a vast range of techniques and styles. He was a realist, surrealist, abstract expressionist, brilliant illustrator and, in so many ways, explorer. His experimental forays with different oil techniques influence the work of modern artists even to this day. American Poet H.R. Hays, a friend and contemporary, was effusive in his admiration. He wrote of De Pauw in 1965: “In a period in which schools come and go with the rapidity of the daily newspaper, the artists who sticks to his own vision, who disregards fashion, who chooses the austere and difficult processes of gradual self-development through self-discipline, is most likely to produce something enduring. Victor De Pauw is such an artist.”

Milestones and Influence

• Victor De Pauw, born in Belgium in 1902. When he was six years old, Victor's family emigrated 6,000 miles to British Columbia. The Rocky Mountains and beautiful Frazier River in Vancouver were his first muse and foray into painting. Listen to the Artist in his own words: "...Following a stay of a few months in Montreal, my father moved still further West, to Vancouver, British Columbia. That's where I grew up. It was South Vancouver, to be exact, overlooking the Frazier River Valley. I learned to swim in the Frazier River with other boys my age. When most of the boys felt that some of us were old enough to be swimming, we were told to swim across the mouth of a small creek, and we did. Fishing, and building small boats kept us active, as did school. In the rafts or in crude boats, we would explore the shore. When the Frazier River overflowed its banks, that was all the more exciting. Since living in New York City, I have read that the Frazier River is the only place in the world, except Asia where jade has been found. How I wish I had known that then."

• In 1919, after service in “The Great War” as a Canadian minesweeper, Victor enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts, to follow his dream of being an artist. In 1922, he won a scholarship at the Art Students League enabling him to go to the Mecca of American art...New York City.

• As a young artist in his 20’s, De Pauw attended the renowned Art Students League.  Much like today, Manhattan’s creative world was a vibrant celebration of cultural bohemia. Artists, writers, actors gravitated to and collectively celebrated their diverse worlds of creativity. De Pauw knew all of the premier actors and playwrights of theatre’s heyday, and his passion for depicting the stage personages became a means of support.

• His caricatures of prominent actors and actresses included Helen Hayes, Ethel Barrymore, Catherine Cornell, Clark Gable, James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson. Playwrights and critics were also the subjects of De Pauw's artistic attention: Robert Sherwood, Eugene O'Neil, George Kaufman, Alexander Woolcott, Heywood Broun among others.

• In 1924 Victor married Hazel Harvey, a dynamic young lady in her own right. When she met young Victor she had been one of the first nurses graduated from Columbia University. The partnership lasted for 47 years with Hazel working many years as a nurse at Barnard to keep the family together.

• De Pauw's first one-man show of paintings was held in 1935 at the Leonard Clayton Gallery on 57th street. Many others, including exhibitions of humor in art, abstraction and his depictions of the west, followed this show at intervals. Reviewing De Pauw’s 1956 one-man show, Stewart Preston of the New York Times observed, “He practices no one style, moving easily from naturalism in his studies of grasshoppers to fanciful, and even grotesque impersonations in his abstract figures.” 

• De Pauw was also a deeply spiritual man and devoted to the practice of Christian Science. He suffered a debilitating stroke in 1961, and despite the dire prognosis of doctors, continued to live and work for another 11 years, eschewing modern medicines. His painful recovery can be seen in many of his darker abstractions.

• De Pauw was a prolific and respected, but not widely distributed, artist and thus lesser-known today than some of his contemporaries. A productive artist from the 1920's to his death in 1971, De Pauw was known as a brilliant caricaturist with a controlled economy of line; a gifted illustrator of children’s books for Charles Scribner publishers (“Snowshoe Thompson” by Stoutenberg & Baker; “The Spirit of Christmas”, by Henry Van Dyke); a painter of some depth and diversity of medium working in oils, acrylics, pastels and watercolors and collage.

• Victor De Pauw worked until his death of a stroke in 1971. Available works range from small proofs of his illustration to large canvasses. Most of his collection resides with his two sons. A series 5 CD Virtual Galleries capture the wealth of Victor’s creations and are available purchase. Visit the De Pauw Fine Art Store for details.