Much of the text from this post was provided by the Cambridge Women’s Heritage Project
Born in New York City, Maud Cabot graduated from Barnard College in 1926 and traveled to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. She did not begin to paint until she was twenty-four, when she met her future husband, the artist Pat Morgan, in the late 1920s in Paris. In 1929, the couple moved back to New York, where she studied at the Arts Student League.
Following her studies, Morgan worked with Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann and began to exhibit at galleries in New York. In 1938, Morgan had a successful show at the Julian Levy Gallery, known as a haven for Surrealist art as well as experimental film and photography. During the show’s run, paintings by Morgan were sold to the Whitney Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
In 1940 she and her husband moved to Andover, Mass, where he taught art at Phillips Academy, and she began to teach at the nearby girls’ boarding school, Abbot Academy. The couple had two children. In 1957, Morgan separated from her husband and moved to Boston. A few years later she moved to Cambridge, where she lived and painted for the rest of her life.
Morgan continued to exhibit in New York, primarily at the Betty Parsons Gallery, where she was included in joint exhibitions with Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, and other notable contemporary artists. Morgan had two retrospective exhibitions, 1967-1968 at the Fitchburg (Massachusetts) Art Museum, and 1977 at the Addison Gallery of American Art.
The addition of an artist’s studio at her 3 Howland Street residence was designed by Yugoslav-American architect Alexander Cvijanovic in 1962.
Cvijanovic was a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and later became a partner in The Architects Collaborative (TAC) as well as a close associate of Walter Gropius. The studio addition was demolished in 2004.
Cvijanovic’s wife, Maria, remembers that her husband very much enjoyed working on the project, after which the couple and Morgan became life-long friends. Following the commission of her studio, Morgan gifted the couple one of her paintings–a piece that still hangs in their home today.
In 1970, after her divorce was final, Morgan spent six months in Africa. She returned to Cambridge and lectured on art at Harvard and MIT and taught at Lesley College’s Institute for the Arts and Human Development.
According to Morgan’s Getty record, the artist was known as “Boston’s modernist doyenne,” leaving a legacy spanning 80 years worth of skilled and complex works “from abstracts to still lifes and self-portraits as well as collages.”‘
In 1980 a film about Morgan’s art, “Light Coming Through,” by Nancy V. Raine (Producer/Co-Director) and Richard Leacock (Co-Director/Cinematographer) was released. The film premiered on October 21 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and was later shown at MoMA in New York and the Place Pompidou in Paris.
In her eighties and nineties, she continued painting, displaying continuing creativity. She received an Honor Award in 1987 from the Women’s Caucus for Art. Since 1993 the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which holds a number of her significant paintings, has awarded the Maud Morgan prize yearly to a mid-career woman artist from Massachusetts.
In 1995, at the age of ninety-two, she published an autobiography, Maud’s Journey: A Life From Art. She died four years later in Cambridge and was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery. An art museum and gallery, Maud Morgan Arts, has been constructed in her honor.