Artist Roy Gussow was born in Brooklyn NY, Nov. 12th 1918. He wanted to be a farmer and went to Farmingdale State College, where discouraged by the repetition and lack of creativity of agricultural work, he changed his program and graduated with a degree in Ornamental Horticulture. He was in business in Albany NY when he was drafted into the army. After basic training he went on tour with a bond-raising show in which he demonstrated his ability to take apart and reassemble fire arms blindfolded. His regiment followed the US troops in England and France repairing broken fire arms. During his years in France he became friendly with the painter George Kachergis an army buddy, who convinced Gussow to explore his artistic talents. Thanks to the GI bill, Gussow was able to go to college again and he entered the Institute of Design in Chicago where Lazlo Moholy-Nagy and Alexander Archipenko were his most influential teachers. He became Archipenko’s assistant and went with him to Woodstock, NY in the summer of 1946 where he met Mary Maynard, also a student of and secretary to Archipenko and a native of Illinois.
They returned to Chicago, got married and began a family. Gussow’s first teaching job was at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. He was invited to apply for a position in Colorado Springs at the Fine Arts Center of Colorado College, where he taught for 2 years (1949-1951) before joining the faculty of North Carolina School of Design in Raleigh where he taught three dimensional design to architecture students. The Gussow family, Roy, Mary and 3 daughters, Olga, Mimi and Jill, lived in Raleigh until the summer of 1962.
At his wife Mary’s urging, to increase Roy’s opportunities and visibility in the art world, the family moved to Manhattan, NY. Gussow taught part-time at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and later at Columbia Univ. NYC. He maintained a studio on 7th Ave. near 27th street for 2 years before moving to Long Island City where he converted 3 lots including an former silver plating factory into studio and living space. The neighborhood was zoned for industrial use which allowed Roy to work late into the night as was his preference without disturbing anyone with the noise of grinders on metal, something his family had learned sleep through.
For decades he was represented by the Grace Borgenicht Gallery and more recently by the Neuhoff Gallery. His work is owned by many museums including MOMA, the Whitney, the Guggenheim and Brooklyn Museum, private and corporate collections gracing such buildings as Tulsa OK and Harrisburg PA City Halls, the Phoenix Mutual Corporation, Xerox Corporation in Rochester, NY and Tokyo, Japan, Heublein Corporation in Farmington CT, JC Penny’s headquarters in Plano TX and the School of Design in Raleigh, NC. His “Three Forms” in front of the Family Court Building in Manhattan was one of his most visible works. That sculpture was removed a few years ago when the building was being refurbished. The 6 inch thick black marble base was destroyed in the move and has yet to be replaced. It was Gussow’s hope that the base and sculpture would be reinstated in front of the building in it’s original form.
Gussow has had numerous solo exhibitions, been included in many group and museum exhibits including 5 times in the Whitney Annual. In 1998 Gussow was awarded a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. He also received an award and medal for his sculpture “Crystal” from the National Academy Museum in Manhattan.
Gussow was actively involved for many years in Artist Equity (President 1985-1987), The Fine Arts Federation (President 1993-1997 and Director 1987-1992), the Sculptors Guild (Director 1967-1976 and 1980-1985 and President 1976-1980) and the Bromeliad Society 1995-2011. His work, his opinions (strong) and his vitality were highly respected by architects, former students and all those who gathered around him. His graceful and powerful highly polished stainless steel and wood sculptures, harmonious expressions of tension and balance are his legacy.
Roy Gussow lived and worked in Long Island City for almost 47 years until his death on February 11, 2011. He is predeceased by his wife Mary Gussow and his granddaughter Rula Gussow. He is survived by daughters Olga Gussow-Hauptman, Mimi Gussow, Jill Gussow, grandchildren Ari Gussow and Zora Gussow and great-granddaughter Ciena Gussow.