In 1943, when Stamos was 21 years old, prominent dealer Betty Parsons gave him a solo exhibition at her Wakefield Gallery and Bookshop. Parsons became an important ally and connection to the contemporary New York art world; Stamos would show regularly with her until 1957.
The Museum of Modern art purchased Stamos’ Sounds in the Rock (left) in 1946. And Edward Wales Root, who became both a supporter of Stamos’ career and a benefactor of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, bought the first of many paintings from the artist in 1945.
During the late 1940s he became a member of 'The Irascible Eighteen', a group of abstract painters who protested the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s policy towards American painting of the 1940s and who posed for a famous picture in 1950 (see below), members of the group are considered as the 'first generation' of abstract expressionists. These artists are part of the New York School and they were referred to as The Irascibles in an article featured in an issue of Life where the infamous Nina Leen photograph was published.
From left, rear, they are: Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Ad Reinhardt, Hedda Sterne; (next row) Richard Pousette-Dart, William Baziotes, Jimmy Ernst (with bow tie), Jackson Pollock (in striped jacket), James Brooks, Clyfford Still (leaning on knee), Robert Motherwell, Bradley Walker Tomlin; (in foreground) Theodoros Stamos (on bench), Barnett Newman (on stool), Mark Rothko (with glasses
Around 1950, Stamos began exploring a new approach to abstraction. Inspired by East Asian aesthetics, he created his Tea House series of paintings, characterized by softly defined geometric forms painted with a limited palette and often overlaid by dark calligraphic brushwork. Later in the 1950s, Stamos worked with compositions that became increasingly reductive and simplified. He explored the use of layers of thin pigment, carefully worked, to create depth in his broad expanses of colour. The paintings below cover 1945 to 1968. The second part, where his Infinity Field paintings clearly have a lot in common with the work of Mark Rothko, will cover from 1969 to his death in 1997.
1945 Bleached Fishbones on the Beach
1946 The Sacrifice
1947 Ancient Land
1947 Sea Images
1957 Olympia Sun-Box
1958 The Divide II
1959 Delphic Shibboleth
1961 Edge of the Day
1963 Dog Town #1
1965 Untitled screenprint
1967 Olivet Sun-Box #2
1968 Classic Yellow Sun-Box