Flora Schofield

b. 1873, Lanark, IL – d. 1960, Chicago

Known as the “Dean of Women Artists in Chicago,” Flora Schofield was a fixture on the Chicago art scene for more than fifty years, showing at no less than thirty-seven annual Chicago and Vicinity and American exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago between 1897 and 1944.  Born in western Illinois, Schofield was taken briefly to Germany by her parents, and then returned to grow up in Chicago. She attended Saturday classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), eventually becoming a teacher of those classes in the late 1890s. According to Daily News art critic C. J. Bulliet, Schofield did not participate in the debate over the Armory Show when it appeared at the Art Institute, but was only converted to modernism in Provincetown, when she studied with B. J. O. Nordfeldt and William Zorach in the late 1910s. Schofield took a studio in Paris in the 1920s and studied with School of Paris cubists, Leopold Survage, Andre Lhote, Fernand Leger, Albert Gleizes, and Gino Severini. 

Schofield showed three abstract canvases at the 1923 Chicago Society of Artists Exhibition, causing a rift between the moderns and traditionalists of the organization.  She participated in yearly exhibitions of “The Ten” of Chicago at Marshall Field’s department store in the 1930s, along with Charles and Fred Biesel, Frances Strain, Emil Armin, Jean Crawford Adams, V. M. S. Hannell, Gustav Dalstrom, Frances Foy, and Emile Grumieaux.

Because of her wealth, Schofield did not qualify for work on the WPA. In the midst of the Great Depression, she designed a brilliant modernist townhouse/studio at 18 East Pearson Street. Still standing among new skyscrapers, it is one of the few artists’ studios of Towertown still extant. Schofield also collected paintings by her School of Paris mentors, including a magnificent still life of a guitar and glass, by Juan Gris of 1913, now in the collection of the Art Institute. Reflecting her modernist principles, Schofield said, “I consider that making art local is stupid. Art is universal. I am a Chicago artist only because I live in Chicago. For me, construction and organization of the picture are the most important and the representational element is always secondary.”

Daniel Schulman

 

References

Bulliet, C. J. “Artists of Chicago, Past and Present, no. 89: Flora Schofield.” Chicago Daily News, June 3, 1939.

Jacobson, J. Z. Art of Chicago Today, Chicago, 1933. Chicago: L. M. Stein, 1933, 115.

Schofield, Flora. Pamplet file P-19798. Ryerson Library. Art Institute of Chicago.

Sinkevitch, Alice. AIA Guide to Chicago. Mariner Books; second edition, 2004, 132.

WORKS BY Flora Schofield