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Umbral Series X

by John O’Neil

Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 36 x 48
Purchased through a National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1971

Umbral Series X by John O’Neil

The Artwork

John O'Neil was best known for his abstract imagery and his early modern style creating rhythmic and structured compositions through color and shape. In this composition, similar shapes have been arranged and overlapped as warm colors interact with nearby colored shapes to create a visual rhythm.

"I expect a painting to be a world of its own, ordered, and perfect within itself." -John O'Neil

The Artist

John O'Neil was born in Kansas City. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1936 and received his Master Fine Arts in 1939 from the University of Oklahoma. He continued his art studies at the Colorado Springs Art Center, Taos School of Art, and the Studio Hinna in Rome. In 1939, he became a professor of painting at the University of Central Oklahoma. In 1965, he went to teach at Rice University where he would have a tremendous impact often being credited with growing the program to include talented artists, art lecturers and historians, and engaging exhibitions. O'Neil headed the art department until 1970 when he became the Director of the university's Sewall Hall Art Gallery, a position he would hold until 1977. He retired from Rice University in 1983 as the Joseph and Joanna Nazro Mullen Professor Emeritus of Art.

Throughout his career, O'Neil received numerous awards, grants, and fellowships. His work was featured in more than 100 exhibitions at such institutions as the Carnegie Institute, Art Institute of Chicago, Library of Congress, Galleria Scheider in Rome, and in the Internationale des Realities Nouvelles exhibition in Paris. His work is included in many permanent collections including the Denver Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, and the Museum of Art at the University of Michigan.