Ivan Albright (SAIC 1919–23, HON 1977) combined extreme detail and garish color contrasts to develop a magic realism.
Ivan Albright was born in 1897 not far from Chicago in North Harvey, Illinois. After World War I, he enrolled at SAIC where he studied painting from 1919 to 1923. Independently wealthy, Albright settled in Warrenville, Illinois in 1927 and devoted himself to painting.
Much of Albright’s work is a combination of intense realism and garish color contrasts that have led many art historians to associate his work with magic realism. One of his most famous paintings, That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door) (1931–41), took Albright 10 years to complete, and he considered it to be his most important piece. The painting is replete with powerful imagery. Albright spent several weeks collecting and meticulously arranging the props before beginning the slow, obsessive painting process that characterizes most of his work. His most famed portrait The Picture of Dorian Gray (1943–44) was commissioned for the film adaptation of the Oscar Wilde novel and portrays the title character in the last phase of his corrupt life. Like much of his work, this painting conveys themes of age and decay with a brooding emotional intensity. Albright was a prolific artist, creating more than 20 self-portraits in the last three years of his life. He received an honorary doctorate from SAIC in 1977.