Drake Collection Online

Gallery Index
Gallery I. The Fifties - Philadelphia
Gallery II. The Sixties - Manhattan
Gallery III. Manhattan
Gallery IV. Manhattan
Gallery V. Philadelphia
Gallery VI. Synthesis, Sign & Symbol
Gallery VII. Woodstock Again
Gallery VIII. Introspection

I. The Fifties. Philadelphia: From Academy into Abstraction.


1 Self Portrait, 1952

2 Ruth, 1954

3 Girl With Black Bird, 1957

4 Figure In Landscape

5 Night in Gifu, 1957

At the core of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Artsí (henceforth PAFA) four year Beaux-Arts program at mid century was study from the antique cast and the nude figure. There was also instruction in portrait, still life, landscape, perspective, materials, and criticism available in all categories by an able faculty, a faculty to which New York generally meant National Academy. It had scant interest in the rising New York School in its various manifestations, but what it could not teach the students learned among themselves, and New York was not far away.

Franklin Drakeís straightforward Self Portrait at age twenty-three shows him in control of his craft, but mirrors a certain perplexity about an uncertain future. It hung in the Academy diploma exhibition in 1952 that won him a European traveling scholarship, awarded by the faculty on merit. Drake had submitted to the rigorous program of connoisseurship adopted from John Dewey by Albert Barnes in his nearby foundation. In his collection Barnes favored the subjective, expressive, and decorative --- Picasso paintings made it only through the Rose Period. There the students had intimate contact with Post-Impressionist and modern French masterworks, and at the Academy it was not hard to spot the Barnes enthusiasts for the influence in their work of Renoir, Cezanne, Soutine, Pascin, or Matisse. The simplified flow of decorative surface pattern of Matisse came to modify the human figure in Budís work.

European travel had to be deferred because the draft wasnít. An intervening tour of duty with the U.S. Army took him to Korea and Japan. He then took the Grand Tour with his wife Ruth, lifelong love and companion. So, when home again in Pennsylvania he was a seasoned traveler and observer. His figures now tend to be reduced, components rearranged on the surface. An Abstract Figure holds almost the same pose as the Girl with Black Bird but is organized in rough textured patches of color reminiscent of De Stael. Lenape Park of 1956 was selected for a prize by Adolph Gottlieb in a juried show, Drake's first professional recognition (illustrated elsewhere as repainted in 1996). This was followed by an honorable mention in the 154th Annual Exhibition of the PAFA, a national juried show, for Night in Gifu of 1957, his first collage, the forms torn and cut from colored and stained paper and organized to illustrate personal experience. Thatís Bud in uniform there on the right, in helmet and back-pack, bowing to an oriental woman outside her garden. Decorative abstraction is overtaking objective representation.