Elvine “V.V.” Rankine, Totem (Sculpture), 1991. Acrylic on wood. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of David Rankine.
V.V. Rankine worked under and was and known by many names including E.R. (Elvine Richard) Rankine and Vivian Scott Rankine. She was born and raised in Boston before moving to New York City in 1944 to live with then-sister in law Agnes MacGruder, wife and creative partner to the painter Arshile Gorky. During this time, she enrolled in the Ozenfant School where she began her studies in painting. Through her friendship with Gorky, Rankine became acquainted with Elaine and Willem de Kooning, whom she accompanied to Black Mountain College in the Summer of 1948. Notably, Rankine studied painting under both Josef Albers and Willem de Kooning at BMC. Rankine went on to become a key member of the Washington Color School, a group of artists identified in the 1965 exhibition “Washington Color Painters” at the Washington Gallery of Art. Her use of color and three-dimensional shapes, formed using wood, canvas, and Plexiglas, emphasize the tension created when planes of color and line interact.