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 Theresa Ferber Bernstein  (1890 - 2002)

About: Theresa Ferber Bernstein
 

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Lived/Active: New York/Massachusetts      Known for: genre, figure, portrait, and landscape painting

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Theresa Ferber Bernstein
from Auction House Records.
At the Opera
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Philadelphia, Theresa Bernstein showed art talent front childhood and became an early female modernist painter whose reputation faded during the era of the New York School but ascended in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.  Of modernist art, she said: "I couldn't warm up to cubes and triangles-they didn't have enough life for me". (Sternberg 21)

In April, 2000,  Bernstein's book titled "Rabbitville" was published, a collection of drawings and stories the artist started in the 1930s to entertain children who posed for her.

In 1907, Bernstein enrolled in the Philadelphia School of Design for Women where she studied with Harriet Sartain, Elliott Daingerfield, Henry Snell, Daniel Garber, and Samuel Murray.  In 1912, she settled in New York, and her early work was "Ashcan" School or Social Realist style, but she became known for impressionist, "frolicking" beach scenes.

She exhibited extensively with the National Academy of Design, (but never was elected a member), and the Society of Independent Artists and was a charter member of the New York Society of Women Artists.  Her husband was artist, William Meyerwitz, and they summered in Gloucester where she completed many of her beach scenes.


Sources include:
Paul Sternberg, Sr., Art by American Women
ARTnews, October 2000


Biography from Pierce Galleries, Inc.:
The only child of Isidore Bernstein and Anne Ferber, Theresa was born in Philadelphia and studied at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art) and the Penn. Academy of F.A. with Daniel Garber, Henry B. Snell and Eliot Dangerfield before moving with her parents to New York City (1911) to study with William Merritt Chase at the Art Students League.

She was a member of the National Association of Women Artists; North Shore Art Association (last surviving Charter member); Society of American Etchers; Audubon Artists of America; Allied Artists of America; Plastic Club, Philadelphia; Rockport Art Association; Connecticut Academy of Fine Art; Ten Philadelphia Painters; Society of Independent Artists; Whitney Studio Club; Cape Cod Society of Artists. Awards include Shilliard Gold Medal, Plastic Club, Philadelphia (1928); National Arts Club Prize and Clereci Prize, NAWA; Jeanne D’Arc Medal, French Instititue of Arts and Letters (1938); Pennell Prize, Library of Congress (1945); Peterson Award, NAWA (1955); Matson Memorial Award, Rockport AA (1967); Horgan Award, AA, NYC (`975); Clark Memorial Award, NSAA (1977) and the World Culture Prize, Italian Academy of Art (1983).

One-woman shows include Syracuse Univ. (1921), Albright-Knox Gallery (1922); Grand Central Gallery (1930); Dayton Art Institute (1945); Smithsonian Institution (1948); Columbus Museum of Fine Art, GA (1966); Rockport Art Association (1972); Pierce Galleries, Inc., Hingham, MA, (1984); N.Y. Historical Society (1984);Driscoll & Walsh F.A., Boston (1986); Simmons College (1990); The Crane Collection, Boston (1990); Sragow Gallery, So Ho (1991); The Philadelphia Museum of Judaic, PA (1995) Joan Whalen F.A., NYC (1998).

Her work is in the permanent collections of the Chicago Art Institute; Butler Institute of Amer. Art; Dallas museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Harvard University; Whitney Museum of Amer. Art; Boston Public Library and N.Y. Historical Society. Married to William Meyerowitz, 1919.

Patricia Jobe Pierce

Biography from MB Fine Art, LLC:
Theresa Bernstein was born in Philadelphia in 1890. She received her art education at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of art) moving to New York City in 1912 and continued her studies in the studio of William Merritt Chase at the Art Students' League. In 1919. she married a fellow artist William Myerowitz and together they met and exhibited with many of the wonderful realists of that exciting era including Robert Henri, John Sloan, Edward Hopper, William Zorach, Milton Avery and John Marin.

A superb colorist and dynamic draftsman, Bernstein captured the energy of the urban scene and the humanity of its diverse population. "The important thing is to maintain the vivacity of your first impression, " she explained. Decade after decade, she chronicled life around her. Her work was frequently cited as masculine by the critics and sometimes distinguished artists who chose paintings for exhibits were surprised to learn that the work they had admired had been painted or etched by a woman. Bernstein may have added to the confusion by sometimes signing her work with her last name only.

Bernstein was a tireless exhibitor. There were many one-person shows in New York including the Museum of the City of New York and Grand Central Galleries. A member of the Philadelphia Ten, her works were in many exhibits, among them, the National Academy of Design, National Association of Women Artists, Audubon Artists and Allied Artists of America and consequently she received a steady stream of prizes.

Her work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, Brooklyn Museum, Chicago Art Institute, Library of Congress, the Smithsonian and the Tel Aviv National Museum in Israel.

Biography from Blake Benton Fine Art, Artists A - B:
Theresa F. Bernstein was born in Philadelphia in 1895 to cultured, middle-class immigrant parents.  Bernstein studied at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, from which she graduated in 1911 with an award for general achievement. From Daniel Garber, her most memorable teacher, she carried forward a plein-air landscape painting with startling color contrasts and bright accents of light.  After a brief enrollment at the Art Students League in New York, where she took life and portraiture classes with William Merritt Chase, she traveled for a second time to Europe with her mother, her first trip abroad having been made in 1905. Never a formal student of Robert Henri, she nonetheless embraced his philosophy of depicting the city's everyday drama.  "Exposed during both tours to the latest adventures in modernism being investigated in these foreign art capitals, Bernstein was strongly impressed on this 1912 visit by the work of Franz Marc, Edvard Munch, and Wassily Kandinsky, admiring their anti-naturalistic palette and novel departures from other eye-pleasing painting conventions."

She returned to New York with renewed vigor in her ambition to record the larger, expressive power of the city, rather than to dilute that visual confrontation into finely tuned details.  Bernstein gravitated to subjects where urban spaces fostered the intersection of citizens from all strata of New York society: scenes commonplace to the waterfront, streets, trolleys, and centers of public recreation ranging from theater lobbies to Coney Island.  Her studio location near Bryant Park offered Bernstein the virtues of a distinctive setting in which to test her newly formed ideas about painting and a guaranteed cross section of New Yorkers seeking air, light, and company. She was also known for harbors, beaches, children, still-life and fish.

An art critic once wrote "Bernstein brought the sum of her academic training and visual knowledge of art to the cityscapes she began to generate in the aftermath of the 1913 Armory Show, which seemed again to disorient modern painting only five years after the "Eight" had made their initial splash in New York's art world."  Her rapid, fluid brushwork, innovative color play, and fresh approach earned her praise in 1919 as "a woman painter who paints like a man."  Ill-considered as that tribute seems today, the comparison acknowledged her solid footing as a member of the "Ash Can School of urban realists" whose work was garnering critical esteem in the early part of the century and from whom Bernstein "crafted her own variant of a "virile" sensibility to chronicle contemporary New York on canvas."

Bernstein was a member of the American Print Makers Society; the National Association of Woman Artists; Boston Printmakers Society; North Shore Art Association; Society of American Etchers; Philadelphia PA; Rockport Art Association; Gloucester Society of Artists; Connecticut Academy of Fine Art; Society of Independent Artists and others. Awards bestowed upon her include: Philadelphia Plastic Club; French institute of Arts and Science; National Association of Woman Artists, 1949, 1951,1955; Society of Graphic Artists, 1953;American Color Printmakers Society prize; French Institute of Arts and Letters, 1938; National Arts Club Prize and many others. She is said to have had over fifty solo shows.

Source:
Blake Benton Fine Art
_________________________________________________________________________________
Note:
Theresa Bernstein died on February 12, 2002 at the age of 112. She was possibly the oldest living artist in America. Her career spanned 80 years.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


Theresa Bernstein is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
Women Artists



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