Gloria Vanderbilt’s paintings are conduits into a lost childhood when she was the subject of an international custody case within one of America’s wealthiest families. The subjects of her work are reduced to flicks of paint that create human forms, as if painted from the perspective of her childhood self.
Gloria Vanderbilt was born in New York City and spent most of her childhood in Europe. She was educated at Miss Porters School-Farmington, Connecticut; Mary C. Wheeler School, Providence, Rhode Island; the Art Students League and the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City.
In 1968 Life Magazine called Vanderbilt “a feminine version of the Renaissance Man.” She has had success as an actor, author, artist, and designer. She had her first one-woman show of paintings at the Bertha Schaafer Gallery in 1952.
In 1953 she made her debut as an actress in Gilbert Miller’s production of a revival of Ferenc Molnar’s “The Swan.” This led to her working on stage and television during what is now referred to as the “Golden Age of Television.” Her performances are part of the collection of the American Museum of Broadcasting in New York City. In 1954 a collection of her poetry, “Love Poems,” was published by World Publishing Co.
In 1969 Vanderbilt’s collages using fine line drawing, painting, fabric, and decoupage were exhibited at the Hammer Gallery in New York. Johnny Carson turned the “Tonight Show” over to Vanderbilt’s Hammer Gallery exhibit. Donald Hall in Kansas City and Lewis Bloom in New York saw the broadcast, and as a result her work evolved into designs for Hallmark paper products and decorative fabrics for Bloomcraft. Subsequently she expanded into designs in all areas of Home Furnishings. She was one of the first designers to travel to department stores throughout the U.S. to introduce her collections.
Vanderbilt is the author of four memoirs and two novels published by Knopf and is a contributor to The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Elle, among many other publications. Her short stories have been published in Ontario Review, Boulevard and Exile. Her memoir “It Seemed Important at the Time: A Romance Memoir,” was published in 2004 by Simon and Schuster. Her erotic novel “Obsession” was published in 2010 by Ecco. In 2011 Exile published her book of stories” The Things We Fear Most.”
Vanderbilt has been the recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts at Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, and the International Fine Arts College, Miami, Florida. Among the other awards she has received are: The National Society of Arts & Letters Gold Medal of Merit, the Anti-Defamation League Woman of Achievement Award, National League of American Pen Women, National Honorarium Membership for Excellence in the Arts, and, in 2007, the Gordon Parks Award. The Holland Society of New York presented the Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Art and Design to Vanderbilt on November 17, 2011.
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Gloria Vanderbilt Prints