Pat Passlof, Eighth House #18, 2003. Oil on linen. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation.

Pat Passlof (Student 1948 Summer Session) (b.1928-d.2011)

Pat Passlof was born in Georgia but grew up in New York, pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Queens College. She attended the 1948 Summer Institute at Black Mountain College, a summer session now famous for its influential lineup of guest faculty: John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, and Willem and Elaine de Kooning, and students including Ruth Asawa, Arthur Penn, and Ray Johnson among many others. The bond that she formed with Willem de Kooning that summer was powerful, and she returned to New York to study with him privately for two years.

Passlof took to abstract expressionism immediately, initially adopting de Kooning’s architectural painting style and eventually developing her own. She became a lively part of ‘The Club’ of Abstract Expressionists, starting a meeting group for the younger painters that became so popular the older group felt threatened and took away her keys to the meeting space. In her later work she sought a balance between abstraction and representation, allowing Passlof to better distinguish her work from de Kooning’s. She claimed she did not feel her work was truly her own until the 1990s. Throughout her life, Passlof was dedicated to painting and became a passionate teacher at schools around New York.