Roy B. Ahlgren was a self-taught painter whose op art and hard-edged abstractions were made with mathematical precision.
Ahlgren’s compositions depict motion and volume through modulated color, and while representational elements such as sky, horizon, water, and landforms can occasionally be seen in Ahlgren’s work, symbolism is usually predominant. His work plainly owes much to Victor Vasarely, but it differs both because of the figurative content and because of Ahlgren’s more lyrical style.
Ahlgren began painting in 1964. During the 1960s he worked as an artist-designer for the famous Louis Marx Toy Company in Erie, Pennsylvania, and was a partner in Erie’s Galerie 8 art gallery. In 1970, he began to teach art at Tech Memorial High School—the same school from which he had graduated—and retired in 1990 to paint full time.
During the course of his career, Ahlgren received more than 60 prizes, among them purchase awards from the Seattle Art Museum, Minot State College, Texas Tech University Museum, and the Mississippi Art Association. He exhibited in many national print shows, including juried exhibits at the Butler Mid-Year Show, the Audobon Annual National Art Gallery, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Library of Congress, the National Academy of Design, and others.
Ahlgren’s work is in the permanent collections of more than 100 institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, the U.S. Information Agency; the Butler Art Institute; the Seattle Art Museum; the St. Paul Museum; and Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester.