Cleve Gray (1918 – 2004) graduated Summa Cum Laude from Princeton University, where he studied painting and Far Eastern Art under the acclaimed scholar George Rowley. Like many of his generation, he joined the United States Army during World War II, serving in England, France and Germany. After the war, he remained in Paris on the GI Bill, where he furthered his study of painting under the cubist Jacques Villon.
In the 1960s he formed a close friendship with Barnett Newman. It was during this time that he experienced an artistic metamorphosis, dissolving his earlier cubist compositions in a sea of distilled color. This dramatic body of work marked the beginning of an artistic meditation that would last for over 40 years. The rigors of French modernism, the ethos of Abstract Expressionism and the meditative restraint of Chinese and Japanese scroll painting commingle with astounding affect. The atmospheric, subdued tones of his 1960s paintings gradually gave way to bright, monochromatic fields of color, hazily washed onto the canvas in stain like swathes. Much of his work from the last three decades of his career feature striking graphic brushwork that conjures the influence of Japanese and Chinese calligraphy. The artist lived and worked in Warren Connecticut for over half a decade with his wife, author and New Yorker staff writer, Francine Du Plessix Gray.
Gray has exhibited at a number of important institutions including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, The Brooklyn Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The artist is also represented in a number of important public collections including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, The Brooklyn Museum, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Smithsonian, The Jewish Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Museum of Modern Art, The Newark Museum, The Phillips Collection, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Yale University Art Gallery and most famously the Threnody murals at the Neuberger Museum.