Surrealism is meant for me because I am a pretty realistic person but I don’t like all I see. So I dream that it is changed… Only mystery and fantasy have been added. All the foolishness has been taken out.
Gertrude Abercrombie 1909–1977
Gertrude Abercrombie was at the center of the Chicago arts scene in the 1940s and 1950s, both as a painter of captivating, surrealist scenes and as the self-proclaimed “Queen of Bohemia,” hosting parties and gatherings for the creative denizens of Chicago.
Abercrombie was born in 1909 in Austin, TX, where her parents were passing through as part of a traveling opera company. The family lived in Berlin for a short time, before moving back to the states when World War I broke out, eventually settling in Hyde Park, Chicago in 1916, where Abercrombie would live for the rest of her life. In 1929, she graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in romance languages and, soon after, studied figure drawing at The Art Institute of Chicago, followed by a yearlong course in commercial art at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Before completely devoting herself to her painting in 1932, Abercrombie worked drawing gloves for Mesirow Department Store and as an artist for Sears.