Laurence P. Sisson (1928-2015)

Laurence P. Sisson (1928-2015)

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1928, Laurence Philip Sisson first took up painting as a child when a case of the chicken pox transformed him into a patient eager for a diversion to while away the hours. During high school, he took courses at the Worcester Art Museum under Herbert Barnett before enlisting with the army and serving with the U. S. occupation forces in Japan after the end of World War II. Here his creative endeavors continued; he completed a mural for a convent in Yokohama and was able to absorb the country’s fascinating history and art, which would come to inform his own painting philosophy. 

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Upon his return to the United States, Sisson was awarded a scholarship to the Yale summer school and also became an instructor at the Worcester Art Museum in addition to offering private lessons. His first of many career awards, and the occasion which put him on Vose Galleries’ radar, came when he participated in the Hallmark International Competition in 1949. He earned the Fourth American Prize and his painting toured the country with the other winners, including a stop in Boston at the Institute of Contemporary Art where it was seen by the Vose family. In 1951, the gallery opened Sisson’s first solo exhibition of oils and watercolors and continued hosting exhibitions almost annually through 1957. 

Sisson’s body of work encompasses the many places that inspired him throughout his long and distinguished career. From the tidal pools and rugged coastline of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, where he first moved in 1951, to the earthy red mesas and endless skies of the Southwest that captivated him beginning in 1979 until his passing in August of 2015, the artist’s landscapes are distinctive for their sense of breadth and clarity of detail. He was the recipient of countless accolades, including awards from the Allied Artists in 1955 and the Silvermine Guild in 1956, as well as the popular prize at the Boston Arts Festival in 1956 and 1964, and his work was acquired by both private collectors and museums during his lifetime. Today examples can be found in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Worcester Art Museum, and the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, among other institutions.  

References: Falk, Who Was Who in American Art, 1999; Contemporary American Painting, University of Illinois, Urbana, exhibition catalogue; Passages: Laurence Sisson, O’Brien’s Galleries, Scottsdale, Arizona, exhibition catalogue, 1991; Vose Galleries archives.

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