John C. Gregory, 1979

John C. Gregory in Studio c. 1969

John C. Gregory

John C. Gregory [aka Jack Gregory] (1930-2014) was an abstract painter who attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Art (now the University of the Arts) in the early 1950s. He worked steadily in Philadelphia until the mid 90’s, after which he was based in Natick, Massachusetts. 

An innovative experimenter with line, balance, color and media, Gregory made work that spans diverse, dynamic styles. This site offers visitors an opportunity to track the development of a talented, dynamic and thoughtful artist across his productive career.  Gregory worked in a wide variety of media and sizes, including paintings and portrait sculpture, along with works on paper. The range of media includes enamels, casein, acrylic, oil and gouache on paper and canvas, as well as wood and clay.  His pieces range in size from 10” x 14” to 8’ x 10’. 

Starting with 1950s representational work that spotlights his impressive draftsmanship, including drawings of everyday life in the peacetime US Army in Germany, Gregory’s work soon transitioned to semi-abstracted portraits of jazz musicians, both in black and white and in vivid colors.  He moved to full abstraction by the early 1960s, and to large "changeable" sculptural pieces that invited viewers’ participation. 

In the 50s and 60s, Gregory developed his signature style of drawing and painting that expressed the interior and exterior of a figure by means of line, without reliance on the edges of form.  The result was a curvilinear “abstraction” with little discernable reference to its origin, but energized by the connection to that source. 

In the 70s, 80s and 90s, he worked in collage; wide brushstroke acrylic paintings; found-wood sculptures; enamel paintings, and a series of paintings created by spraying a mixture of sand and paint across the canvas on a very low trajectory.

In several series, he attached nautical lines to the surfaces of large canvases – these “drawings” form a low relief that acts as a barrier to the colorful paint “shot” across the canvas. The pigment’s trajectory constitutes the form itself, reinforcing and interacting with the three-dimensional line. 

An ingenious experimenter, Gregory turned in the late 80s to the use of quick-drying oil enamels (largely black and white), combined with an alkyd resin. Commenting in 1993 on his enamel work, he explained: “I…found the brush was not direct enough for me. I couldn’t get the immediacy of line that I was looking for.”

To fix that, he developed a pressure-pouring method of applying paint from a rolling bridge seat that moved horizontally across big canvases laid flat. This allowed him “to maintain, and vary, a stream of enamel. I always make a complete work each time, with no changes. If I reject the attempt, the canvas is painted over and used again for a later work. As a result, there are linear, relief-like shapes underneath the final layer of enamel in many of my paintings.”

In 2000, he returned to vivid colors in his paintings, using casein on large and small canvases and in smaller drawings. In this period he continued his built work, creating a striking series of painted reliefs, which combine wooden, cord and metal 3-D elements with dramatic textures and paint colors.      

Along with his lifetime of studio work, Gregory had a prize-winning career as a editorial sculptor, including many busts of newsmakers published in Time, Look, Sports Illustrated, The Saturday Review and the Playboy Jazz and Pop Hall of Fame (all photographed by Seymour Mednick), as well as privately commissioned works. Gregory’s work is in many private collections and several museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Portrait Gallery.   

John C. Gregory

1930 – 2014


1994-2014: Continued work on paintings, drawings, and reliefs  

1999: Began construction of series of relief paintings

1996: Settled in Natick, MA.

1994: Relocated studio to Massachusetts

1987 – 1994: Continued painting large works in Philadelphia studio

1977 – 1981: Grey Gallery, Philadelphia PA

1960 – 1987: Independent Design and Painting

1956 – 1960: Designer at Smith Kline & French Laboratories

1954 – 1956: Travel in Europe

1953 – 1955: U.S. Army Photography

1949 – 1953: Education- Philadelphia Museum School of Art, Full Scholarship

And Art Students League Summer Sessions in Woodstock, NY

1947 – 1949: Education- Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio

1943 – 1947: W. Penn Charter School

1930:  Born in Philadelphia, PA


Selected Solo Shows:

1985 – 1986 New Paintings by John Gregory

The Rittenhouse Regency, Philadelphia, PA

Seven works on exhibit for a six-month period

Gallery Director/Curator: Noel Butcher

1982               Recent Paintings and Drawings

The Kling Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Gallery Director/Curator: George Young

1981               Collage Paintings: Second Installment

The Grey Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Curator: M. McClain

1980               New Large Works on Canvas

The Grey Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Curator: Rinagai Stanley Jawer

1979               “Large Brushstroke” Works on Paper

The Grey Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Curator: Rinagai Stanley Jawer

1978               Collage Paintings 1977 – 1978

The Grey Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Curator: Elsa Weiner

1977               A Small Retrospective: Works 1962 - 1977

The Grey Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Curator: Robin Inlander

1961               Recent Drawings and Prints

The Print Club, Philadelphia, PA

Curator: Berthe von Moschzisker

Selected Group Shows:

1985               New Light: Four-Person Exhibition

Noel Butcher Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Curator: George Young

1978               Large Paintings by Three Painters

The Grey Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Curator: Rinagai Stanley Jawer

1974               The Time of Our Lives

National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

Curator: Monroe Fabian

1965 – 1978 Paintings exhibited in several group shows

Gallery 1015, Wyncote, PA

Curator: Gladys Myers

1964               Three Painters

Arts Council, YM/YWHA, Philadelphia, PA

Curators: Joan Kron and A.C. Wolgin

1962               Third Philadelphia Arts Festival

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Philadelphia, PA

Regional Exhibition; Invitational

Curator: E.M. Benson

1961               Philadelphia Abstract Artists Group

Philadelphia Gallery

Invitational Exhibition

Curator: Mitchell Wagman

1960               Five Young Watercolorists

Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA

Award Invitational Exhibition

Curator: John R. Maxwell

1960               Philadelphia Abstract Artists

Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA


Curator: Louis Hirshman

1959               Second Philadelphia Arts Festival

The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Regional, Juried Exhibition

Jury Chairman: Henry Clifford

1959               Watercolorists Under 30

Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA

Juried Exhibition: Award

Chairman: John R. Maxwell

1950 ‘s           Philadelphia Print Club Exhibitions, 1952 – 1959

American Painters In France Exhibition, Paris, 1956

Germantown Week Exhibitions, 1951 – 1958



Selected Commissions for Collections:

1992               Large Abstract Painting

Collection of the University of Pennsylvania

School of Dentistry

Gift of Dr. Leonard Abrams

1990               Painted Portrait of George and Lois Funderberg

Collection of the Wharton School

University of Pennsylvania

1985               Portrait Sculpture of Dr. Sol Sherry

for the Sol Sherry Thrombosis Research Center

Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA

1980               Portrait Sculpture in the Rothman Pavilion

of Dr. Mario V. Troncelliti, Chief of Anesthesiology

Pennsylvania Hospital

1973               Abstract Mural Paintings

Collection of the University of Pennsylvania

School of Dentistry

Gift of Dr. Jerome Sklaroff

1964               Sculpture portraits of Pioneers in Psychiatry

Castings in the Collections of

The American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC,

and the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital

1954               Painted Portrait of Mr. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

Collection of Container Corporation of America, Chicago

Selected Public Collections:

·      Philadelphia Museum of Art

·      Silkeborg Museum, Denmark

·      National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

·      Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, PA

·      The Container Corporation of America, Chicago, IL

·      Smith Kline Beckman Corporation, Philadelphia, PA

·      American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC

·      University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry, Philadelphia, PA

·      Sol Sherry Thrombosis Research Center, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA

·      The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Selected Private Collections:

·      Dr. & Mrs. Leonard Abrams

·      Dr. Andrew Halbert

·      Betty & Peter TIlley

·      Dr. & Mrs. Jerome Sklaroff

·      Mr. Jack Rubinson

·      Mr. Seymour Mednick

 ·     Dr. Nora Laos & Robert Burrow

·      Dr. Cathy Boswell & Ms. Victoria Jones 

·      Alexis Gelber & Mark Whitaker

·      Judy & Avi Eden

Articles and Reviews:

“The Bauhaus Connection”

               Ellen Kaye, The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, August 5, 1984

“What’s New in Old City Galleries”

Anne Fabbri Butera, The Philadelphia Bulletin, June 24, 1979

“J. Gregory, Sculpture Portraits”

Brian J. Brown, Time Education, 1976

“Five Artists”

Dennis Leon, The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 24, 1961, w photo

“Artists Honored in Watercolor Show”

Andrew J. Serafin, Art Alliance Bulletin, May 1959

“Young Watercolorists Show”

Andrew J. Serafin, Art Alliance Bulletin, April 1959

Catalogues and Publications:

“Line as Subject and Object in John C. Gregory’s 1977 and 1978 Collages”

Monograph, M. McClain, 1981

Temple University Art Collection Article

Fred B. Gable (with black and white photographs), 1977

“Portraits of the American Stage”

Catalog, Monroe Fabian, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC (black and white photograph), 1971

“Third Philadelphia Arts Festival”

Catalog, Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts, 1962

“Second Philadelphia Arts Festival”

Catalog, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1959

Awards and Honors:

1980               “Painter to watch in the 1980s”

Philadelphia Magazine, January 1980 (with photo)

1959               Award: “Watercolorists Under 30”

Philadelphia Art Alliance

Jury Chairman: John R. Maxwell

1953               Temple & Crozier Award

Philadelphia Museum School of Art

1949 – 1953 Senatorial Scholarship

Philadelphia Museum School of Art, Philadelphia, PA

Design Awards:

Philadelphia A.D. Club Exhibition Gold/Silver Awards: 1959, 1960

New York Art Directors Club Exhibition: 1959, 1960

AIGA Exhibition of Design and Printing for Commerce: 1959, 1960

Type Directors Club Exhibition: 1959

Illustrators ’60 Exhibition

Lectures and Public Speaking

1979               National Public Radio

One-hour interview on air with Terry Gross, WHYY FM


Art Students League Summer Sessions, Woodstock, NY

Studied with Yasuo Kuniyoshi 1951, 1952

Philadelphia Museum School of Art

Philadelphia, PA 1949 – 1953

Kenyon College

Gambier, Ohio 1947 – 1949

W. Penn Charter School, 1943 – 1947


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