David Pratt was a Western New York painter, instructor, and designer. He was born January 11, 1918 in Ithaca, New York. He was first introduced to art by Carl Bredemeier, working as a restorer, carver, and framer at the Carl Bredemeier Gallery for several years. Pratt also took classes at the Art Institute of Buffalo from 1935-1940 with William B. Rowe and William Ehrich. He was awarded Best Landscape in Oil at the Western New York Exhibition in 1939, and a year later was featured in his first solo exhibition at the Twentieth Century Club.
After service in the U.S. Army during World War II, Pratt became a faculty member himself at the Art Institute, and in 1949 he took on the additional role of director. In 1950 he convinced Charles Burchfield to become a guest instructor to teach oil and watercolor painting on Saturdays. In 1951 he attended a painting seminar led by Burchfield at the University of Buffalo, and despite their watercolor styles being radically different, Burchfield’s orientation to fantasy in his early and late works was an impetus to Pratt to create an imaginary realm in his own works.
Pratt painted a world stirring with spirits and movement, where the laws of perspective are skewed, and solidity dissolves into an ethereal suggestion of mass. His visionary paintings are filled with contradictions, simultaneously fanciful and foreboding. Jazz often inspired improvisational compositions and brushwork. Pratt’s work has been included in numerous exhibitions, including shows held at the Artist’s Committee Gallery in Buffalo in 1981, the Anderson Gallery in Buffalo in 1991, Norberg’s Art Gallery on the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora, New York, in 1999, and at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in 1992, 2006, and 2019.