Esteban Vicente Pérez (January 20, 1903 – New York, January 10, 2001), was an American painter. He was one of the first generation of New York School abstract expressionists.
Vicente enrolled at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes in Madrid in 1921 intending to study sculpture. He completed his training in 1924. Commenting on his experience at the Academy he said “It doesn’t give you any ideas about anything. It gives you tools, and teaches you about materials. Academic training is safe. It prepares you to be against.”.
He had his first one-man exhibition in Madrid in 1928, after which he left for Paris and did not return to Spain until 1930. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 Vicente, supporting the Loyalist forces, painted camouflage in the mountains outside Madrid for a few months. Later that year he moved to New York. The (Loyalist) Spanish Ambassador to the U.S. set him up as a Vice Consul in Philadelphia, a position which supported his family for three years. Vicente had ample time to continue with his art and had his first one-man show in New York at the Kleeman Gallery in 1937. After the fall of the Spanish Republic in 1939 he returned to New York City.
During World War II he supported himself with portrait commissions and by teaching Spanish. A 1945 exhibition in Puerto Rico led in 1946 to a position at the University of Puerto Rico teaching painting. After his return to New York in 1947 he established relationships with most of the members of the nascent New York School participating in their seminal exhibitions at the Kootz Gallery in 1950, in the 9th Street Art Exhibition in 1951 and in exhibitions at the Sidney Janis Gallery and Charles Egan Gallery. Subsequently he was represented by the Leo Castelli, André Emmerich and Berry-Hill Galleries in New York City. He was a founding member of the New York Studio School, where he taught for 36 years. Although he never exhibited in Spain during the rule of dictatorship Francisco Franco, in 1998 the Spanish government opened the Esteban Vicente Museum of Contemporary Art in Segovia.
Vicente maintained a house and studio in Bridgehampton, New York, from 1964.
He has been honored as a renowned artist and child advocate by a New York City Bronx School Public School 170, a Kindergarten to Second Grade school has been named the Esteban Vicente school. A family member has incorporated Art programs into the schools. Students’ talents emerge as they are exposed to the culture. At PS 170 students learn about Esteban Vicente and his style, color and design. Examples of his work adorn the walls of the school.