Walter Plate (1925-1972)

Walter Plate (1925-1972)

Walter Plate’s ascent in the early Post War movement was remarkable.  One of the youngest artists of the Abstract Expressionist movement to achieve major exhibition status alongside Guston, Gottlieb, Rothko and other modernist masters, Walter Plate’s works were acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Corcoran Gallery of Art and the National Gallery.


Born in Woodhaven New York in 1925, he studied at the Grand Central School of Art in New York before enlisting in the Marines in 1943. Following the war he attended L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Académie de la Grande Chaumière and the Atelier of Fernand Leger.  In 1950 he came to Woodstock, New York and attended classes of Yasuo Kuniyoshi at the Art Students league. He and Milton Avery were next door neighbors at the famed artist’s enclave Byrdcliffe for a year, yet both set their sight on Manhattan.


Even with Plate’s great success in Manhattan in the 50’s most notably with major solo shows at the Stable Gallery, and Museum shows in both the United States and Europe,  the desire for a better life with his young family for a better life compelled him to set his roots their, traveling back and forth to Manhattan where he could drop in for a nite or two at one of his triplet brothers’s apartment. This provided additional impetus to the artistic dialogue between Plate and Guston that had already become quite apparent in the mid 50’s.


In each work, Plate’s flat planes and gestural brushstrokes compete with one another creating various chaotic energies within a thoughtful, functional order.  His unique use of printers’ inks mixed with his oils, created the opaque and lucid quality of his surface and palette, somewhat reminiscent of stained glass windows, highlight his superiority as a master colorist.  There is clear evidence of a strong artistic dialogue between Plate and Guston, with “first use” of different elements and themes originating from both artists, as early as 1954 and continuing with Guston, even after Plate’s untimely death at 47 in 1972.


Plate’s early one-man shows included those in 1954 New York City at Ganso Gallery, New York City and the Stable Gallery beginning in 1956. Plate’s paintings were presented at the annual “Salon” of the most advanced and vital members of the New York avant-garde.


His early group shows were global, including The Whitney Museum annuals, 1957-61, PAFA, 1955, 1960; the 26th, and 27th Carnegie International biennial exhibitions, The Tate Gallery, London, 1959; The International Exhibition of Abstract Artists, Tokyo, Japan, 1959; the Corcoran Gallery Biennials, Washington D.C.


He was not a prolific artist, but when he painted, he received great reviews from the likes of Stuart Preston and Dore Ashton of the New York Times, and Lawrence Campbell of Art News.   A solo exhibition of Plate’s highly abstracted East End beach scenes from the 60’s and until his death in 1972 is on view at the Pollock Krasner Museum in the Springs area of East Hampton August 1 – October 31, 2019. The show is curated by Helen Harrison, Director and Chief Curator.

© Levis Fine Art





1925, Woodhaven, Long Island, NY


1972, Woodstock, New York


Studied Art:

1942 Grand Central School Art, NYC

War Years:  1943-1946 Served in the US Marine Corps

            1945 Mural in Yokohama, Japan

            Illustrated for Reporter Magazine 1946

Studied Post-War:

1947-1950 Paris France, Ecole des Beaux Arts, La Grande Chaumiere, with Ferdinand Leger

1950-1952 with Yasuo Kuniyoshi at the Art Students League in New York



Awards Include:

Woodstock Foundation – 1953

1st Prize Corcoran Biennial – 1959 - $2000 and Gold Medal

1st Prize in Oil, Albany Art Institute – 1960


Exhibited at:

Pittsburgh International – 1955

Whitney Annuals (4 successive years)

“Young America” – 1957 – Whitney

63rd Annual – The Denver Art Museum – 1957 – Contemporary American Painting & Sculpture

Nature in Abstraction – 1958 – Whitney

University of Illinois – 1959

The 1959 Purchase Exhibition, Kresge Art Center, Michigan State University

Chicago Art Institute – The 26th Biennial Exhibition 1959

American Painting Show, Tate Gallery, London 1959

International Art Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan 1959

The Detroit Institute of Art 1960 – 2 Biennials of American Painting and Sculpture

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 155th Annual Exhibition – 1959-1960

Abstract Expressionist Painting of the Fifties – 1960 – Walker Art Center, Minn., Minnesota

Chicago Art Institute – The 27th Biennial Exhibition 1961

Whitney Museum “Artists Under Forty” Show – 1962 – NYC

Traveling Johnson & Johnson’s Wax Show – 1962


One Man Shows at:

Ganso Gallery, NYC – 1954

2 shows – Stable Gallery, NYC 1958, 1960

2 shows – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY 1966, 1968

State University of Albany, NY 1967

University Art Gallery, State University of New York at Albany 1973

School of Architecture, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 1973

Memorial Exhibition, Woodstock Artist’s Association 1984



Represented in Collections of:

Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC

Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY

Whitney Museum, NY, NY

Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, Albany, NY

Wallace K. Harrison

Johnson Foundation

The National Gallery -Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Many private collections


Taught at:

Art Students League, Woodstock, NY, summers of 1959-1966

University of Southern Illinois, Carbondale, Illinois, Distinguished Visiting Critic of Art, spring 1962

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY Associate Professor of Art, School of Architecture 1964-1972



Art News 1960


Gorgon, RPI publication, Troy, NY - featured artist 1965

Who’s Who in America 1965, 1966, 1967

Ulster Arts Summer 1978 Bud Plate: A Memoir by Ron De Nitto