About This Artwork

Ivan Albright
American, 1897–1983

Picture of Dorian Gray, 1943/44

Oil on canvas
215.9 × 106.7 cm (85 × 42 in.)
Signed lower left: Ivan Le Lorraine Albright

Gift of Ivan Albright, 1977.21

© The Art Institute of Chicago.

Ivan Albright painted this lurid portrait for the Oscar-winning movie adaptation of Oscar Wilde's 1891 novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. In Wilde's tale, Dorian Gray commissions a portrait of himself as an attractive young man and later trades his soul for an ever-youthful appearance. As the still-handsome Gray leads an increasingly dissolute and evil life, his painted representation rots and decays, revealing the extent of his moral corruption. Albright's renown as a painter of the macabre made him the ideal choice of Albert Lewin, the director of the movie, to paint the horrific image of Gray. Although the movie was shot in black and white, Lewin filmed the painted portrait in color to emphasize Gray's shocking transformation.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Art Institute of Chicago, Fifty-Sixth Annual American Exhibition of Paintings, October 25, 1945-January 1, 1946, cat. 2, ill. pl. VI.

Chicago, Associated American Artists Galleries, The Albright Twins First Joint Chicago Exhibition, March 29-April 17, 1946, cat. 1.

Chicago, Riccardo’s Restaurant and Gallery, 1946.

Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, Painting in the United States, October 11-December 8, 1946, cat. 101, ill. pl. 84.

Springfield, Illinois State Fair, First Annual Exhibition by Artists of the Old Northwest Territory, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, August 8-17, 1947, cat. 2, ill. p. 2.

Chicago, Marshall Field & Co. Galleries, Exhibition of Winners of the Illinois State Fair (and Dorian Gray), September 1947.

Miami, Fla. Work exhibited at The Cadillac Hotel and Lord Tarleton Hotel, sponsored by the Advertising Artists Guild of Miami, December 1947.

Chicago, Riccardo’s Restaurant and Gallery, Albright Family Exhibition (works by Ivan, Malvin and Adam), 1950.

Art Institute of Chicago, Ivan Albright Retrospective Exhibition, October 30-December 27, 1964; traveled to New York, the Whitney Museum, February 3-March 21, 1965, cat. 29.

Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth College, Hopkins Center, Beaumont-May Gallery, Visitors Forum Show, August 1970.

Omaha, Joslyn Art Museum, The Thirties Decade: American Artists and Their European Contemporaries, October 10-November 28, 1971, cat. 1, ill.

Woodstock, Vermont, Universalist Church, Art on Church Street, June 1975.

Art Institute of Chicago, Works by Ivan L. Albright from the Collection, October 21-December 10, 1978, cat. 22.

Munich, Germany, Haus Der Kunst, Amerikanische Malerei, 1930-1980, November 14, 1981-January 31, 1982, cat. 99, ill. p. 104.

New York, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Memorial Exhibition of Deceased Members, November 18-December 15, 1985, cat. 14, ill. p. 2.

Turin, Italy, Lingotto S.R.L., Arte Americana 1930-1970, January 8–March 31, 1992, ill. p. 51.

Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, George Grosz: Berlin – New York, December 21, 1994–April 17, 1995; traveled to Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, May 6–July 30, 1995; Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, September 7–December 3, 1995, cat. 23, ill.

Art Institute of Chicago, Ivan Albright, February 20-May 11, 1997, cat. no. 41; traveled to New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, June 10-September 7, 1997.

Milwaukee Art Museum, The Picture of Dorian Gray, January 22-February 21, 1999, in conjunction with Florentine Opera Event, no cat.

Publication History

"The Albright Twins Paint Gruesome Masterpieces in an Abandoned Methodist Church,” Life, March 2, 1944, pp. 63-70.

The Art Digest, May 14, 1945, p. 14.

C.J. Bulliet, “Albright’s ‘Dorian Gray’ Hollywoodian in its Horror,” Chicago Daily News, July 28, 1945.

“A Look at the Albrights,” Newsweek, Nov. 5, 1945, p. 106.

Harriet and Sidney Janis, “The Painting of Ivan Albright,” Art in America, Jan. 1946, pp. 43-49.

“By the Way,” Townsfolk, Chicago, 35, 1 (1946).

Dorothy Bridaham, “The Paintings of Ivan Albright,” Chicago, April 1954, pp. 20-41, ill. p. 21.

Ralph M. Pearson, The Modern Renaissance in American Art (Harper and Brothers, 1954), pp. 237, 239, fig. 146.

WFMT Fine Arts Guide, Chicago, Nov. 1960, ill. back cover.

Edith Weigle, “The Genius of Ivan Albright, Chicago Tribune Magazine, January 27, 1963.

Robert Hardy Andrews, “Some Stories That Didn’t Get Into My Book,” Chicago Daily News, Summer 1963.

“I Wish to Create Tension and Conflict,” Chicago Daily News, Panorama Section, Oct. 24, 1964, ill.

Edward Barry, “Big Albright Exhibit – Tribute to Chicagoan,” Chicago Tribune, Oct. 25, 1964.

“Ivan Albright,” Arts, March 1965, pp. 55-56.

Peter Fox Smith, “Vermont’s Hidden Master,” New England (Sunday Boston Globe magazine), Feb. 8, 1976, pp. 18-29.

Jan Van der Marck, “Ivan Albright: More than Meets the Eye,” Art in America, Nov./Dec. 1977, pp. 93-98.

Alan G. Artner, “At 81, Ivan Albright Enjoys his Gift of Second Sight,” Chicago Tribune, Oct. 22, 1978.

Michael Croydon, Ivan Albright (New York: Abbeville Press, 1978), pp. 112-14, 123, pls. 38-39.

Louise Bruner, “The Chicago Art Scene: Albright Returns Home,” The Blade, Toledo Ohio, Octo. 29, 1978, ill.

“Joshua Kind, Reassessing Albright,” The New Art Examiner, Dec. 1978, p. 10-11.

Ed Lion, “Albright Doesn’t Use Words Beautiful, Ugly,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune (UPI), Tues., Dec. 19, 1978, Sec. C, p. 1.

“America: Traum und Depression 1920/1940,” Neue Gesellschaft fur bilende Kunst, Berlin, Nov. 9-Dec. 28, 1980, b/w ill. in exh. cat. although work was not included in the show, p. 277.

“Ivan Albright,” The New Renaissance, 4, 3, 14 (Spring 1981), pp. 31-40, ill. p. 37.

Michael Brenson, “Ivan Albright, 86, Painter, is Dead, New York Times, Nov. 19, 1983, p. 33, ill.

James Martinez, “Artist Albright, the ‘Master of Decay,’ is Dead, Chicago Sun-Times, Nov. 19, 1983, ill.

Christopher Lyon, “Synthetic Realism: Albright, Golub, Paschke,” Art Journal (Winter 1985), pp. 330-333, ill. p. 332.

Henry Canter, “Modern Work Shown at Arts and Letters,” The Uptown Dispatch, New York, Dec. 6-19, 1985, p. 13, ill.

Arte American 1930-1970, Independent Curators Inc., 1991, ill.

Judith A. Barter et al., "American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat. 92.

The Andy Warhol Foundation, Sally King-Nero, Neil Printz, “The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculpture late 1974-1976,” (Phaidon Press, 2014), vol. 4, (ill.).

Ownership History

Ivan Albright, Chicago, 1944; given to the Art Institute, 1977.

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