The Artist Birthday Series

I. Rice Pereira

I. Rice Pereira

I. Rice Pereira (August 5, 1902 – January 11, 1971) was an American abstract artist, poet, and philosopher who played a significant role in the development of modernism in America. She is known for her work in the Geometric Abstraction, Abstract Expressionist, and Lyrical Abstraction genres and her use of the principles of the Bauhaus school. Pereira’s paintings and writings were influenced significantly by the complex intellectual currents of the 20th century.

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Pereira was born Irene Rice on August 5, 1902 in Chelsea, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, the eldest of three sisters and one brother. During her career, she often gave her year of birth as 1907, which appears on some legal documents. She spent her childhood in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where she spent time reading and writing poetry. After her father died in 1918 she and her family moved to Brooklyn, New York.

Brooklyn, 1918
Brooklyn, 1918

In 1922 she began working as a stenographer in an accountant’s office to help support her family in the wake of her father’s death. She briefly attended courses in fashion design at the Traphagen School of Fashion and night courses in literature at New York University, and began taking evening art classes at Manhattan’s Washington Irving High School. She immersed herself in the bohemian world of Greenwich Village and had a brief affair with the poet and novelist Maxwell Bodenheim, whose friend Ben Hecht decribed as, “more disliked, derided, denounced, beaten up, and kicked down more flights of stairs than any poet of whom I have heard or read.”

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