Born in Charleston, Missouri, Stephen Pace grew up in Indiana, and initiated his formal art training by studying drawing and watercolor methods with W.P.A. artist Robert Lahr. During World War II, he served in England and France, honing his skills by painting views of local scenery. Pace enrolled at the Institute of Fine Art in San Miguel Allende, Mexico, with funding provided by the G.I. Bill. After a year south of the border, during which time met and befriended the painter Milton Avery, he went to New York, where he attended the Art Students League (1948-49). After time in Florence and Paris, Pace resumed his studies in New York, attending classes at Hans Hofmann’s school. Hofmann’s teachings–especially his practice of creating volume through dynamic planes of color– helped inspire the direct and vigorous Abstract Expressionist style Stephen Pace employed during the 1950s, with jagged forms and pulsating energy.
After 1960, Stephen Pace embraced his rural roots, spending time in Pennsylvania and then Maine, a region that allowed him to reconnect with nature. Dividing his time between studios in New York City and Stonington, Maine, he returned to figural art, working in a style characterized by simplified shapes and a liberal use of color while exploring subjects ranging from Maine lobstermen to landscapes and nudes.
Stephen Pace taught at a number of institutions, including the Pratt Institute, Washington University, Bard College, the American University, and the University of California, Berkeley. Examples of his work have been acquired by the country’s foremost public and corporate collections, including A. T. & T., Chicago; the Bristol-Myers Collection, Princeton, New Jersey; the Curie Institute, Paris; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the National Academy of Design, New York; the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.