William Brice

(1921 – 2008)


Son of comedian Fanny Brice and gambler Jules “Nicky” Arnstein (the subjects of the movie “Funny Girl”), William Brice grew up in heady cultural surroundings. Composers George and Ira Gershwin were frequent guests at his parents’ home along with a revolving cast of Broadway luminaries and characters.

Brice was strongly influenced by the architectural and sculptural ruins he saw during a trip to Greece, which resulted in the fragmentary yet monumental qualities of his work. Broken stone figures, pillars, and stacked stones all became regular features, creating compositions charged with erotic symbolism and sexual archetypes through the depiction of phallic and vaginal shapes.

Brice studied at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, and at the Art Students League in New York City. He had his first solo show at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 1947 and a career retrospective at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in 1986. He taught painting and drawing at UCLA from the 1950s until the 1990s, when he became an emeritus professor. His work is held in the public collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Art Institute of Chicago.

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