Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA
Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, NY
Goldstein Museum of Design, St. Paul, MN
Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN
Palmer Museum of Art, University Park, PA
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
June Groff is an artist best known as a fabric and fashion designer, and an abstract expressionist painter.
Born in Ohio, June Groff would find great inspiration in returning to her childhood memories of barnyard animals, red schoolhouses and country scenes in her representational work. She would later recall admiring her sister’s watercolors as a child, but would not realize herself as an artist until much later. Her life took a more meandering path and her initial studies were in music and dramatics. For several years she traveled the west as an accompanist and singer, one in a trio of entertainers, when in 1924 she was struck by the inspiration to paint. By Groff’s own recollection, “It was an Oregon mountainside, with fuzzy dark spruces poking their heads up through blankets of snow that made me want to paint. Studying art became my dream from then on, but it was several years before I could afford the art studies.” When she did finally begin her training, she worked prolifically and aptly in many mediums, including oil paintings, watercolors, embroidered “needle paintings,” stained glass and hand-painted and hand-printed fabrics.
Groff’s first art courses were at New York University (1928-1929), followed by five years at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts including a Cresson Scholarship to study and travel throughout Europe. Upon returning, she spent two years studying at the Barnes Foundation, and within a year had a piece on display in second half the New York World’s Fair in 1940 in the Pennsylvania Hillhouse exhibit.
June Groff textiles were highly sought after in the 1940’s and 50’s. Along with her then-husband and business partner Norman Carton, they sold fabrics to major fashion designers like Hattie Carnegie and Clare Potter and had work featured in Harper’s Bazaar and Paris Vogue.
Groff's work, both textiles and paintings, were collected by major institutions including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts as well as private collectors like Emile Gauguin, Francis Biddle, and Vera and Samuel White.
Groff fell into obscurity in the later years of her life. She passed away in 1973, and despite the acclaim she reached in her own lifetime, she had come to be somewhat of a recluse in her Philadelphia home, shared with 10 cats and 90 pigeons. Her name has resurfaced with her inclusion in the PMA’s Modern Times exhibition and various other museum exhibitions. Both her textile designs and abstract paintings have become highly sought after by collectors.