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Gertrude Abercrombie (Feb. 17, 1909 – July 3, 1977); American painter based in Chicago. Called "the queen of the bohemian artists", Abercrombie was involved in the Chicago jazz scene and was friends with musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Sarah Vaughan, whose music inspired her own creative work.
....Within Abercrombie's avant garde social circle she was the inspiration for the song "Gertrude's Bounce" by Richie Powell, who claimed that she walked "just like the way the rhythm sounds in the Introduction", and she appeared as herself in James Purdy's Gertrude of Stony Island Avenue and as a fictional character in Purdy's Malcolm, Eustace Chisholm.
...She painted many variations of her favored subjects: sparsely furnished interiors, barren landscapes, self-portraits, and still-lifes. Many compositions feature a lone woman in a flowing gown, often depicted with attributes of sorcery: an owl, a black cat, a crystal ball, or a broomstick. These works were often self-portraits, as she stated in an interview with Studs Terkel shortly before her death: "it is always myself that I paint". Tall and sharp-featured, she considered herself ugly; in life she sometimes wore a pointed velvet hat to accentuate her witch-like appearance, "enjoy[ing] the power this artifice gave her over others who would fear or recoil from her". The 1940s and '50s are described as her most prolific and productive period; a time when she no longer painted many portraits, but retained the themes mentioned above.
Abercrombie's mature works are painted in a precise, controlled style. She took little interest in other artists' work, although she admired Magritte. Largely self-taught, she did not regard her lack of extensive formal training as a hindrance....
Jackie Cain and the Modern Jazz Quartet were considered friends. Dizzy Gillespie described her "the first bop artist. Bop in the sense that she has taken the essence of ...