Alfonso Ossorio:

Gifts from the Ossorio Foundation

Alfonso Ossorio: Gifts from the Ossorio Foundation displayed eleven works created by the artist between 1949 and 1984. The exhibit included eight ink, wax, and watercolor paintings, a collage, and an etching, as well as the major assemblage piece, INXIT. The works were donated to the Museum by the Ossorio Foundation in 2008 and were exhibited in the second floor galleries.

Alfonso Ossorio was born in Manila, Philippines, in 1916. The son of a wealthy sugar refiner, he attended boarding school in England and the United States. Ossorio completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at Harvard University, where he explored interests such as anthropology and medieval art. He spent several summers studying printing and wood engraving at St. Dominic’s Guild in Sussex, England. After graduation, he completed additional studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. New York gallerist Betty Parsons offered Ossorio his first solo exhibition after meeting the artist in Taos in 1941. During the Second World War, he made a number of medical illustrations and Surrealist-inspired works, while serving in the military.

Ossorio was greatly influenced by artists Jackson Pollock and Jean Dubuffet. He purchased his first Pollock in 1949 and became close friends with the artist and his wife, Lee Krasner. Pollock and Krasner urged Ossorio to travel to Paris and visit Dubuffet, whose work they greatly admired. Ossorio was inspired by Dubuffet’s interest in L’Art Brut, or works by “primitive,” untrained artists. He was also influenced by Dubuffet’s use of assemblage and materials such as sand and pebbles in his paintings. In the early fifties, Ossorio housed Dubuffet’s collection of L’Art Brut at his estate in East Hampton, known as The Creeks, and it had a profound impact on his work. Ossorio began experimenting with collage and assemblage in the late fifties, and by the mid-sixties was applying the term “congregation” to large-scale works such as the Museum’s INXIT.

The Museum’s gift includes a number of works executed around 1950 in ink, wax, and watercolor. At this time, Ossorio was completing a mural for the Chapel of St. John the Worker in the Philippines and experienced a period of profound creativity. These untitled paintings reflect the influence of Pollock, as well as Ossorio’s interest in Freud and the subconscious.

Ossorio’s works have been widely exhibited in the United States and abroad. His work is included in the collections of institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Four years after his death in 1990, the Ossorio Foundation was established in Southampton, New York, to preserve and educate the public about the artist’s work. In 2008, the Ossorio Foundation donated eight ink, wax, and watercolor paintings, a collage, an etching, and the major assemblage pieceINXIT to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

For additional information on the artist, visit