Merton Simpson, (1928-2013), left South Carolina in 1949 to attend New York University and Cooper Union. During college he worked in the frame shop of Herbert Benevy where many well-known artists frequented including Franz Kline, Max Weber and the Dutch abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. In 1951, Simpson’s work appeared at the Museum of Modern Art and in 1954 at the Guggenheim Museum. By 1955 Simpson had a one-person exhibition at the Bertha Schaeffer Gallery.

In 1963, the Civil Rights Movement led to the formation of the Harlem-based artists' collective, the Spiral Group, of which Simpson was an original founder along with Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, Charles Alston, Hale Woodruff, Richard Mayhew, and others. For a period, these socially-conscious painters focused their work on the black freedom struggle while aiming to create a unique aesthetic that would play a transformative role in the understanding of race and identity in America.


  • Title: Sky Poems
  • Creator: Merton Daniel Simpson
  • Date Created: 1951
  • Physical Dimensions: h 40.5, w 40.5 in
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Art Genre: Abstract
  • Art Form: Painting
  • Support: Canvas

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