|Place of Birth||Shawnee, OK, USA|
|Place of Death||New York, NY, USA|
|Birth Name||Joellen Hall|
Joellen Hall was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, the second of four daughters born to Ruth and Joel Hall.1 She demonstrated creative inclinations in her youth, taking piano and ballet lessons and pursuing painting classes with painter Alexandre Hogue before college. She attended the University of Iowa for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees—earned in 1943 and 1944, respectively—where she studied under Philip Guston.2 After graduation, Hall moved to New York City, where she studied at the Art Students League with Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Morris Kantor, and Robert Ward Johnson.3 Early in her career, she earned critical notice in her home state, winning First Prize at the Oklahoma Artists’ Sixth Annual (1946) for her oil painting Portrait of Greta, which entered the collection of the Philbrook Art Center.4 Beginning in 1949, Hall attended Atelier 17, where she met her second husband, the Scottish poet Ruthven Todd who was a frequent collaborator with Stanley William Hayter.5 Her abstract print called Vertical Image, found in Hayter’s collection of exchange prints, shows Peet’s experimentation with marking the plate with various techniques. She continued to make prints throughout the early 1950s, and carved the engraved frontispiece to a hand-printed, limited-edition copy of Kathleen Raine’s Selected Poems (1952).6 The frontispiece’s bird and the botanical surroundings hint at her developing passion for nature; she and Todd lived on Martha’s Vineyard for a couple years in the early 1950s (they were also married there). Hall’s prints were exhibited in 1952 at Atelier 17’s group show at Peretz Johnnes gallery, and she also showed prints and paintings in group shows at the collaborative Tanager Gallery.7 In the early 1960s, Hall began working as a sculptor and focused primarily on bronze castings from wax models, but also made some pieces from stone.
Joellen Hall: Drawings & Sculptures. New York: Poindexter Gallery, 1977.
- Hall married three times in her life—Melvin Peet (1946), Ruthven Todd (1952), and George Rapée (1961)—but preferred to use Hall as her professional name and Rapée as her personal name. There are exceptions, of course, and future researchers must be careful to search for mention of Joellen Peet and Joellen Todd. ↩
- Hall’s memories of studying with Guston can be found in Dore Ashton, A Critical Study of Philip Guston (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 53. ↩
- See student record card (alphabetized under Rapée) at the Art Students League of New York. ↩
- Thank you to Sienna Brown and Thomas Young at the Philbrook for searching for archival material about Portrait of Greta (accession number 1946.5). Hall’s former teacher, Alexandre Hogue, was a juror for the Oklahoma Artists’ Sixth Annual. ↩
- Todd arrived in New York City in 1947. A noted scholar of William Blake, Todd collaborated with Hayter on a portfolio replicating Blake’s method of handwriting verse directly on etching plates. ↩
- Kathleen Raine, Selected Poems (New York: Weekend Press, 1952). A copy of this book is held in the New York Public Library’s Rare Book Collection. ↩
- “Atelier 17 Group,” Art Digest 26 (July 1952): 19; Prints (New York: Tanager Gallery, 1953). One of Hall’s prints titled Vertical Image (1951) is included on an unknown exhibition list in HPP, Paris. ↩