A painter’s painter whose colour work rivals that of his mentor Hans Hofmann, James Gahagan (1927–1999) was a widely known secret of the art world.
He painted until dawn to push the limits of vision.
Son of a labour leader, Gahagan inspired political structures to benefit others: a cooperative gallery, teachers unions, art schools,
and an association of artists who took on the Mayor of New York City in 1961 to legalize loft dwelling.
A familiar figure of the 1950s New York Tenth Street scene, Gahagan had been one of the few able to explain Hans Hofmann's painting critiques.
Teaching engagements at Columbia University Graduate School, Goddard, Pratt Institute,
and the Vermont Studio Center augmented his annual solo exhibitions reviewed in The New York Times
and Art News.
Yet the challenge to sustain a creative life amid rising rents and dirty politics convinced him to embrace alternatives.
His move north with his wife, the sculptor
Patricia de Gogorza Gahagan, would transform the isolation of Vermont.
Paint Until Dawn,
produced and directed by Eli Ives, is about art itself through the eyes of artists.
James Gahagan, Vermont, 1974
(© 2014 Patricia de Gogorza Gahagan)
Paint Until Dawn premiered online in June 2020 at FAFF2020, The Fine Arts Film Festival of Venice, California. The film is the first of the international art documentary series Colour Creates Light: A Diaspora, produced by Lumikalai Film.