Morris Barazani

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Morris Barazani

Medium Surrounding Change
1966
oil on canvas
36 x 30 inches
signed lower right, dated & titled verso

Morris Barazani

Which Way Do I Go
2000
oil on canvas
24 3/8 x 20 1/2 inches
signed on reverse

Morris Barazani

Don’t Push Too Far
2006
oil on canvas
24 3/8 x 18 1/4 inches
signed on reverse

Morris Barazani

Writing I
1996
oil on canvas
60 x 52 inches
signed lower right

Morris Barazani

Jack of Diamonds
1982-84
oil on canvas
43 1/2 x 35 inches
signed lower right

Morris Barazani
Valley Fog
1972 - 73
oil on canvas
58 x 44 inches

Morris Barazani
Untitled (Gray, Black, and White 2)
1964-65
oil on canvas
34 x 30 inches

Morris Barazani
Untitled (blue)
c. 1963
oil on canvas
50 x 50 inches

Morris Barazani

Untitled
1956
oil on canvas
20 x 14 inches
signed lower right and on reverse

Morris Barazani
No. 004
1950
oil on burlap
24 x 22 inches

Morris Barazani

Untitled
1949
oil on burlap
7 1/4 x 18 inches
signed lower right

Morris Barazani

Untitled
1971
collage on board
image size: 8 1/8 x 7 1/8 inches
board size: 13 5/8 x 9 3/4 inches
signed and dated in pen lower right

Morris Barazani

Untitled (Derek Timmerman)
1970s
oil and collage on found board
image size: 10 x 7 3/4 inches
board size: 12 3/8 x 10 1/2 inches
signed lower right and on label on reverse

Morris Barazani

Juggler
1970
mixed media collage on board
image size: 9 x 9 inches
board size: 13 x 10 1/8 inches
signed and dated lower right

Morris Barazani, c. 1949

BIO

1924 – 2015

Lives and works in Chicago.

Morris Barazani has been an active member of Chicago’s modernist art community since the early 1950s. An influential teacher, he is a painter who draws and sometimes makes collages. Born in Michigan, Barazani’s artistic sensibility began to take shape with the enthusiastic help of his high school art teacher, who was not much older than him. Both of them left school to serve in the armed forces from 1943-46, during which time Barazani worked on a Navy carrier and had a stint with an amphibious Marines Argus unit, setting up radar. After completing his tour of duty, Barazani’s teacher went to Stanford for his PhD, and Barazani followed. The prospect of a teaching job at the Institute of Design (ID) brought them both to Chicago, where Barazani promptly enrolled. “I was preoccupied with the Constructivists and Mondrian,” he recalls. Barazani’s studies at ID occupied 1947-48, a period in which a major philosophical battle was brewing at the school. “It was the Moholys versus the Chermayeffs,” says Barazani, referring to the different philosophies of figurehead Laszlo Moholy Nagy and his successor Serge Chermayeff. “I was in the Moholy camp and soon I was basically asked to leave.” Barazani’s drawings and paintings from the ID period, some of which were created as part of an ongoing dialogue with Moholy-Nagy, bear all the earmarks of the formalist, Bauhaus-oriented mindset promoted by the Institute, though they are also uncommonly strong and original, and they give a clear sense of the personal voice Barazani would develop over the following decade.

Barazani was married in 1948, and together he and his new wife Gail – whom he had met in a class with sculptor Hugo Weber – moved to Detroit to study at at Cranbrook Academy. While in Detroit, Barazani ran Circle Gallery, an independent artistic outlet that showed many important artists of the era; at Circle, in 1949, Barazani had his first one-man show, and the same year he exhibited in the seminal Momentum Exhibition in Chicago. The Barazanis lived behind the gallery, and in 1951 they had their first child, David. Throughout the early ’50s, Morris’ work was included in shows at the Detroit Institute of Art and the Hanamura Gallery, Detroit. After college, Morris and Gail moved back to Chicago, drawn by a job with Goldblatt’s; alongside the commercial work, Morris was constantly pushing his own artistic boundaries. “Automatic writing and a free approach to paint was becoming dominant over design,” he says, and his work from the period shows a move away from the Bauhaus influence into abstract expressionism, both in his paintings and his collages. In the ’50s and ’60s, Barazani’s time was spent making art and hanging out with other artists including Jerry Pinsler, Harry Bouras, George Kokines, Robert Nickle, Edvins Strautmanis, and Cy Gordon. He was a member of the important artist collective Exhibit A Gallery, together with Leo Segedin, Eve Garrison, Frank Petersen, Tristan Meinecke and others. To be an ab-ex painter in Chicago was to swim against the figural current, and it required a high degree of commitment and confidence.

A short stint in San Francisco on the advice of his old high school teacher seemed a misstep. “I got money together, came back to Chicago, and kissed the ground when I arrived.” Barazani got his old Goldblatt’s job back “doing window displays, like any good artist.” He was invited to the Artist-In-Residence program at DePaul University, where he founded the Art Department, and in 1969 he was asked to serve as director of the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois’ Chicago Circle Campus, where he remained for 24 years. In his 80s, Morris lives with Gail in their home on the north side of Chicago, where he maintains his studio.