Since his first one-person exhibition, at Forum Gallery in 1966, Gregory Gillespie has been recognized as one of America’s most important and arresting contemporary artists. Defying categorization, Gillespie has painted memorable self-portraits, haunting fantasy landscapes, symbolic geometric abstractions and monumental dimensional paintings unlike any others.
Gregory Gillespie began his art studies at The Cooper Union for Advancement of Science and Art in New York. He received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1962, and received the Chester Dale Fellowship to continue his work and study at the American Academy in Rome, where he resided from 1964 to 1970. In 1970, Gregory Gillespie was given a one-person exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens. After three more exhibitions at Forum Gallery in 1968, 1970 and 1973, the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, DC) presented a retrospective exhibition of Gregory Gillespie’s work in 1977. The artist was forty years old. The Hirshhorn exhibition brought Gillespie into national prominence, and his work was soon shown at the Rose Art Museum (Waltham, MA), the Oklahoma Art Center (Oklahoma City), the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art (Ridgefield, CT), the Whitney Museum of American Art (NY) and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond). In 1981, Frank Goodyear, Jr. included Gregory Gillespie in the landmark exhibition of American realism organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts that traveled to Richmond, VA; Oakland, CA; Lisbon, Portugal and Munich and Nuremburg, Germany.
In 1984, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) organized a two person exhibition of paintings by Gregory Gillespie and William Beckman that traveled to the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art in California. Subsequently, Gregory Gillespie’s works were shown at museums in Greenville (SC), Wichita (KS), Trenton (NJ), San Francisco (CA), Lincoln (MA), Brooklyn (NY) and Boston (MA). In 1991-92, Gregory Gillespie was featured in the traveling exhibition American Realism and Figurative Art 1952-1990 in five Japanese museums.
In 1999, the year before his death, the Georgia Museum of Art (Athens) opened a retrospective exhibition of Gregory Gillespie’s work. The show traveled to the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, the List Visual Art Center (Cambridge, MA), and to the Butler Institute of American Art (Youngstown, OH) where it was on view from January to early March of 2000.
Gregory Gillespie’s paintings are included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the Georgia Museum of Art (Athens), the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond), the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art and the Wichita Art Museum. In 1994, Gregory Gillespie received the Augustus St. Gaudens Award from Cooper Union in New York. He lived in Massachusetts until his suicide in April of 2000.