Phillips Academy, 180 Main St, Andover, MA 01810
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
Durlacher Bros, 11 E 57th St, New York, NY 10022
166 E 61st St, New York, NY 10065
110 E 57th St, New York, NY 10022
Evergreen Cemetery Stonington, New London County, Connecticut, USA
Ralph Kirk Askew Jr. (November 19, 1903 - March 30, 1974) was a successful art gallery director whose East Side residence became a well‐known gathering place for New York artists and intellectuals in the 1930s. Askew sold important Old Master drawings and paintings to American museums and collectors between the 1920s and 1960s. The New York branch contributed to such significant collections as the Sachs collection, the Widener collection, the Frick, the Fogg, and the Cleveland Museum, among others. After World War II, however, the gallery increasingly exhibited and handled the work of modern and contemporary artists, including that of Peter Blume, Walter Stuempfig, Florine Stettheimer, and the estate of Pavel Tchelitchew. Askew and his wife Constance (neé Atwood and the former wife of Arthur McComb) formed part of the New York art scene; friends and colleagues included Julien Levy, Lincoln Kirstein, Peter Blume, Pavel Tchelitchew and Charles Henri Ford, and other artists and dealers. While Levy served in the U.S. Army during World War II, Askew also managed the Julien Levy gallery.
Askew, who graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a bachelor's degree at Harvard. He did graduate work in art history before starting his career in 1927 as an agent for Durlacher Bros., art dealers here and in London.
As director of the New York, branch, Askew introduced many contemporary painters to a gallery that had previously dealt chiefly in old martens.
The home of Askew and his wife, Constance Atwood (1895-1984), attracted prominent and not‐yet‐so‐prominent figures from the city's intellectual and artistic circles.
Virgil Thomson, the composer, a lifelong friend and frequent guest at the Askews, recalled in his autobiography that the couple played host to writers, musicians, stage directors, actors, critics, poets, curators and “whole bunches” of painters.
Among the guests then were Emily Hahn, the writer, Aaron Copland, the composer, John Houseman and Joseph Losey, the stage directors, and E. E. Cummings, the poet. The painters who visited often were Massimo Campigli, Pavel Tchelitchew and Eugene Berman. Thomson himself for some years moved in and out of the guest room “almost at will,” and he recalled that Elizabeth Bowen, the novelist, would sometimes come from London “to stay a month.”
He died on March 30, 1974, apparently of a heart attack, at St. Luke's Hospital. He was 70 years old and lived at 110 East 57th Street and in East Greenville, Pa.
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