Ernest Briggs (1923–1984) was a second-generation Abstract Expressionist painter known for his expressive, sometimes calligraphic brushwork, his geometric compositions, and revolution in abstract painting that secured New York City's position as the art capital of the world in the post-World War II period. Ernest Briggs was born 1923 in San Diego, CA. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army during and after World War II (1943–1946). Briggs studied painting at the Schaeffer School of Design, San Francisco, CA (1946–47) and later at The California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco (1947-1951), where he thrived under the tutelage of such ab-ex greats as Clyfford Still, Ad Reinhardt, David Park, and Mark Rothko. According to New York Times critic Grace Glueck, Briggs was largely impacted by the "painterly rhetoric" of his teacher Clyfford Still during and after his time at CSFA.
Considered a member of the second generation of Abstract Expressionists, along with Giorgio Cavallon, Briggs left California for New York in 1953 where he began exhibiting at the Stable Gallery. During the 1950s, he was able to make a name for himself through his explosive and dynamic style as part of the New York City avant-garde. Briggs brought to the East Coast a fresh, lively aesthetic, reflecting what has been termed a "radical West Coast style" that he had continued to develop since his days at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. He participated in several Whitney Museum Annuals and in 1956 was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition “12 Americans” curated by Dorothy Miller. He taught painting and sculpture at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn from 1961 until the time of his death at age 61, and is survived by his wife Anne Arnold, who is also an artist.
The dynamism and at some points discord in Briggs' work is best suggested by the following quote from his obituary, published on June 14, 1984 in the New York Times:
"Ernest Briggs, a second-generation Abstract Expressionist painter known for his expressive, sometimes calligraphic brushwork and his geometric compositions, died of cancer Tuesday in New York. He was 61 years old. Mr. Briggs continually struggled to reconcile an approach to painting identified with David Park, Richard Diebenkorn and other Abstract Expressionists of San Francisco, where he studied art, and an approach identified with first- and second-generation artists of the New York School, such as Hans Hofmann and Giorgio Cavallon. Sometimes Mr. Briggs's emphasis was on strong, lyrical color and thick brush strokes that called attention to the act of painting. Sometimes, as in his exhibition earlier this year at the Gruenebaum Gallery in New York, his work was more linear and geometric, and the expressive element was dependent upon a strong, almost translucent light within grays and blues. Mr. Briggs was a professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he had taught painting and sculpture since 1961. His work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Walker Art Center, the Carnegie Institute Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art."
Source: Wikipedia, New York Times