Alexander Brook (1898-1980) was a painter and art instructor who lived and worked in Woodstock, Sag Harbor, and New York City, New York, and Savannah, Georgia.
Brook was born in Brooklyn, New York to Russian immigrants Eudoxia Gelescu and Onufri Brook. After contracting polio at the age of twelve, he remained bed-ridden for a year and his formal schooling was suspended. At this time, he began to show an interest in art and began receiving his first lessons in painting. In 1914, he enrolled in the Art Students League where he won scholarships and cultivated friendships with other art students, including Louis Bouché, Niles Spencer, and Peggy Bacon, whom he married in 1920.
Brook and Bacon's two children, Belinda and Alexander Bacon Brook, were born in 1920 and 1922, and the couple divided their time between a summer house in Woodstock and a series of apartments in New York City. Their circle of artist friends included the Bouchés, Niles Spencer, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Andrew Dasburg, and many of the other artists who lived and worked in Woodstock. Brook and Bacon continued to produce art, with Brook focusing on his painting, and Bacon publishing her illustrations and prints in nationally syndicated magazines.
In the 1920s, Brook also wrote articles for The Arts and caught the attention of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. She invited him to promote and organize exhibits for her Whitney Studio Club, and from 1923 to 1927, he worked as assistant director of the Club, which was later to become the Whitney Museum of Art. By the late 1920s, Brook's realist paintings of landscapes, still lifes, and posed figures of women were gaining wide recognition and he was given his first retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1929, at the age of thirty-one. In the early 1930s, within the span of three years, Brook exhibited one man shows at the ACA, Valentine, Charles Daniel, and Downtown Galleries in New York City, and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1931.
In 1938, Brook moved to Savannah, Georgia and began visiting and painting realist scenes based on visits to the city's oldest black neighborhoods. When Brook's marriage with Bacon ended in 1940, he continued to live in Savannah with his second wife, Libby Berger. After his second marriage ended, he returned to New York in 1942 to teach at the Art Students League and, during World War II, served as a correspondent and artist for the Army based out of Panama.
In 1944, Brook returned to Savannah with his third wife, the artist Gina Knee Brook. Through the mid-1940s, Brook continued to exhibit his works, primarily through the Rehn Gallery, contributed articles and essays to art journals, and was commissioned to paint two covers for the Saturday Evening Post. In 1948, the Brooks purchased and moved to their last home in Sag Harbor, Long Island. Believing realist work was no longer well received in critical and contemporary art circles, Brook slowly retreated from the art world, exhibiting his last solo show at Knoedler Galleries in 1952, and retiring from painting in 1966. Brook died on February 26, 1980.