Founder and Head of the Art Department at Auburn University
Frank Applebee was born in Boston Massachusetts in 1902. He enjoyed a long career as an artist and educator, producing works that included a wide range of American imagery during the years of The Great Depression. He was known for lyrical forms of representation and experiments with abstraction later in his life. He attended the Dixie Art Colony for many years.
Applebee studied art at the Massachusetts College of Art. Although he was a prolific painter, he was primarily known in the Southeast as the founder and head of the art department at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, now Auburn University. In 1949 Applebee won a $25 award for “Monday” at the exhibition of the Alabama Art League, held at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
He continued to teach until 1969 when, at his retirement, he was named Professor Emeritus. Applebee’s legacy includes two remarkable achievements: A highly regarded body of work of his own; and the amazing 1948 acquisition of the core collection of Auburn’s Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, titled “Advancing American Art.” The collection of 36 paintings cost Auburn University $1,072. Today the collection is estimated to be worth millions. Applebee passed away in 1988.
Sources: Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, Wikipedia, DAC Foundation Archives