King County District Court - Issaquah Courthouse
A large-scale painting by a celebrated Abstract Expressionist uplifts a courthouse.
William Ivey’s paintings may suggest expansive landscapes or mysterious interiors, but they are true abstractions—more about the painted surface, rich color and virtuoso brushwork than recognizable subjects or narratives.
Throughout his career, Ivey refused to title his paintings, preferring to maintain the ambiguities within the large canvases. “My paintings have always been related to the qualities of objects,” he told art critic Doloris Tarzan Ament. “But I’m not always aware what those objects are. In the process of painting, I become aware of associations, but they shift all the time.”The blue color in Untitled (Abstraction) is often associated with Ivey’s work. As an Abstract Expressionist, he explored the color’s infinite possibilities and unique properties, using it to suggest sky or space, but also purely for its powerful and peaceful feeling.
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Untitled (Abstraction) was commissioned in 1982 as part of the Honors Program, which recognizes mid-career artists who‘ve made a significant contribution to this region by providing access to their work in public buildings and spaces throughout King County. It was originally sited in the King County Courthouse in Seattle; today it hangs in the King County District Courthouse, Issaquah Division.Born in Seattle, Ivey (1919–1992) simultaneously studied simp at the University of Washington and art at the Cornish School of Allied Arts (today known as Cornish College of the Arts) before entering the Army as a paratrooper during WWII. Following his military service, Ivey studied painting in San Francisco with artists Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Ad Reinhardt, eventually returning to Seattle in 1948. Ivey’s paintings have been exhibited extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan. During his career, he received a National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities award, a Ford Foundation Purchase Award, and a Rockefeller Fellowship. His artwork is included in the collections of the Seattle Arts Commission, SeaFirst Bank, and Seattle Art Museum.