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Alexander Nepote, Red Cliff Abyss
Red Cliff Abyss
, layerist collage, 38 x 54

Alexander Nepote, Green Pool Grotto
Green Pool Grotto, layerist collage, 31 x 48

Alexander Nepote, Colorful Cliff Grotto
Colorful Cliff Grotto, layerist collage, 24 x 40
Alexander Nepote Photo

Alexander Nepote

1913 - 1986

Alexander Nepote, Roadside Produce Stand
Roadside Produce Stand, watercolor 15 x 22

For twenty-five years, Alexander Nepote participated in most watercolor exhibitions in the Bay Area between 1935 and 1960. He was a founding member of a group known as "The Layerists," and placed his multi media works in their shows.

Alexander Nepote at age 24, 1937
Alex at age 24 in 1937
Alexander Nepote painting en plein air
the same day, painting en plein air

Alexander Nepote is well known and highly regarded for his abstract paintings and layerist collage compositions. He was a native Californian, born and raised in the Central Valley. In the 1930's, he studied art at the California College of Arts and Crafts and received his master's degree in fine arts from Mills College.

When WW II began, Alexander was 28. He worked in the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond. After the war, he became a professor and Dean of the Faculty at the California College of Arts and Crafts, and then served as Art Professor at California State University, San Francisco.

Nepote's artistic career went through several phases.

Early on, he was creating wet-into-wet landscapes of farms and city scenes.

In the 40's, he became more abstract, with floating shapes and complex geometric compositions. In the 50's, he created more abstract landscapes, and in the 60's, he exhibited a fascination with rock shapes and textures, combining watercolors and experimental collage techniques.

In the 1960's, San Francisco Chronicle famed art critic Alfred Frankenstein explained Nepote's approach to collage, torn paper and watercolor.
Young Alexander Nepote photo portrait
Youthful Alexander Nepote, formal photo portrait with dedicated signature
Alexander Nepote at his easel in his studio
Alex in his studio at his easel
SF Chronicle Art Critic Arthur Frankenstein
San Francisco Chronicle Art Critic
Alfred Frankenstein (1906-1981)

"For many years Alexander Nepote belonged to the school of abstract artists whose work suggested the forces of nature without describing any specifically natural forms. [In his current show] at the Quay Gallery, 521 Pacific Avenue, natural forms become explicit, but without loss of painterliness or freedom.

Mysterious rocky caves, pools, grottos, mountain peaks, and such are implied; in one case, the subject is the base of a great tree; another picture is a fantastic composition of coast side highway bridges. The technique is a combination of collage and watercolor. Papers torn to the shapes desired create the forms. The paint adds the modeling, the mystery, the dusky reaches of space, and the lyricism; and rarely in all its history has watercolor been handled with such resonance and grandeur. Nepote has long been one of the most mature and convincing painters in California, and this new development in his style increased the luster of his performance."



  • Contemporary American Art ; Butler Institute of American Art,Youngstown, Ohio
  • Contemporary Art USA, Worcester Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Third International Biennial, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco, CA
  • American Painting - University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois
  • American Art of our Time, Massachusetts Museum, North Adams, Massachusetts
  • Prize Winners U.S.A., Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois
  • American Watercolors, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA),
    San Francisco, CA
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY
  • Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, CA
  • Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, CA
  • Lytton Savings and Loan Association Collection
  • Crown Zellerbach Company Collection
  • United Airlines Collection
  • San Francisco Municipal Collection
  • Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
  • Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA

Sources: Gordon T. McClelland and Jay T. Last, California Watercolors 1850 - 1970, 2002; Exhibition Brochure, Emerson Gallery
and SF Chronicle clipping art review by Alfred Frankenstein.

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