California (1894 - 1993)
Little is certain about Serlís life before he became famous. He was a great story teller. According to acquaintances his character varied wildly between playful and ornery. He was born Joseph Searles in Olean, New York. He spent much of the first half of his life since the age of ten traveling the country as a vaudeville performer. He eventually made his way to southern California. In the 1930ís and 1940ís he had some walk-on parts in films for Fox Studio under the name Jerry Palmer. Though he began painting perhaps as early as the 1940ís, he became most prolific after moving to Lake Elsinore from San Juan Capistrano around 1970. For the rest of his life, Serl painted almost daily with oil on found boards, masonite, canvas and even over discarded paintings.
He is widely recognized for his dramatic figurative style. Many of his paintings have a fable like quality. They seem to depict costumed stage performers. Often scenes are charged with a sense of anxiety but include elements of comic relief, much like theatre. Think of Edvard Munchís late 19th century expressionism combined with a dose of late 20th century ironic humor. Serl is a significant American painter. He is likely to become even more widely recognized given that he was prolific, worked in oil, had a very distinct style, and had an overall high level of quality in his oeuvre. Noteworthy trademarks include the elegant elongated arms, large round eyes, and clownish expressions of his often anthropomorphic figures; as well as his penchant for bright colors and quirky mysterious scenes. His work is in permanent collections of many museums including The American Folk Art Museum and The Smithsonian American Art Museum. The sizes noted are actual painting sizes. Please inquire for exact framed dimensions.
George Jacobs Self-Taught Art
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