1 May 1892—2 April 1974
Member of the 45 Group. In 1937, Shaw was a member of the fledgling American Abstract Artists, and one of the Park Avenue Cubists who received renewed interest in a 2002 book and a 2003 exhibition in New York City. He painted on Nantucket from 1947 to 1970, joining the 45 Group of modernists. He served on several AAN committees, including the executive committee from 1952 to 1954.
A significant figure in American abstract art, Shaw enjoyed a varied career as a writer and illustrator, poet, modernist painter, and collector. Born to a wealthy family and orphaned at a young age, Charles and his twin brother were raised by their uncle, Frank D. Shaw. At age nine, he was already an avid painter and had illustrated his first book, The Costumes of Nations. He also wrote and illustrated the children’s book, “It Looked Like Spilt Milk,” published in 1947. Shaw graduated from Yale in 1914, where he was a member of the St. Anthony Hall aka Delta Psi Fraternity, and completed a year of architectural studies at Columbia University.
He worked as a freelance writer for The New Yorker, The Smart Set, and Vanity Fair, where his focus was the 1920s theater and cafe-acute; society. In 1927, Shaw enrolled in Thomas Hart Benton’s class at the Art Students League of New York. He also studied privately with George Luks. Shaw’s work is part of most major collections of American Art, including the Whitney Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Guggenheim, the Smithsonian Institution, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Corcoran Gallery.
As a founding member of the American Abstract Artists, Shaw participated in the first annual exhibition. His article, “A Word to the Objector,” was included in the group’s first publication.