George Ortman was born in Oakland, California in 1926. He studied at the California College of Arts, Berkeley, from 1947-49; with Stanley William Hayter at his Atelier 17 in New York; at the Atelier André L'hote in Paris from 1949-50; and at the Hans Hoffmann School of Fine Art in New York from 1950-51.
Ortman's first one-man exhibition was held at the artist's co-operative Tanager Gallery in New York, in 1953. This was followed by exhibitions at Stable Gallery in 1957 and 1960, and at Howard Wise Gallery in 1962. Ortman's constructions were based around his personal language of basic geometric forms, which he had been developing and simplifying since his time in Paris in the late-1940s. By 1962 they had evolved into large works of squares, circles, triangles and other geometric shapes, painted in bold colors and set in relief, allowing for the optical play of advancing and receding colors coupled with protruding and recessed surfaces.
The success of these early shows led to Ortman's first museum exhibition, at the Cincinnati Museum of Art in 1964. This was followed in 1965 by a retrospective at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in which the work "Sun Totem"
(see below) was exhibited. Ortman's work continued to evolve around his fascination with the power of simple geometric shapes and signs, and he exhibited widely throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York from 1960-65; at New York University from 1963-65; at Princeton University from 1966-69; and at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI as Head of the Graduate School Painting Department from 1970-91.
Ortman was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1965, a Lee Krasner Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003, and an Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Grant in 2008. His work is in the collection of Museum of Modern Art, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Cleveland Museum of Art; Oakland Museum of Art; Yale University Art Galleries, New Haven; and many others.
An extensive interview with the artist can be seen by clicking here