- Also known as
- Ivan Le Lorraine Albright
- Date of birth
- Date of death
Chicago native Ivan Albright remains one of the most uncompromising artists of the 20th century, a “master of the macabre” famous for his richly detailed paintings of ghoulish subjects. A medical draftsman during World War I, Albright portrayed the body’s vulnerability—to age, disease, and death—in works that provoked outrage and admiration.
For Albright, art was a family business. His father, Adam Emory Albright (1862–1957), was a commercially successful painter who had several one-person exhibitions at the Art Institute in the early 20th century, but his son rebelled against what he called this “pretty pretty” art. While Albright’s unique style has been called Magic Realism, it defies categorization. His painstaking creative process involved designing sets for his paintings and creating studies of models and props—even making diagrammatic plans for colors. Albright’s desire to present the minutest subtleties of human flesh or the tiniest elements of a still life often required that he spend years on a single painting.
A graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Albright established a reputation in the city through early support from the museum, which displayed and purchased many of his paintings. As the largest public collection of Albright works, the Art Institute has organized several exhibitions showcasing his unconventional style and the controversial subject matter that earned him fame and notoriety throughout his career.