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 Reuben Tam  (1916 - 1991)

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Lived/Active: Maine/Hawaii/California      Known for: mod sea-landscape, non objective

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Ad Code: 3
Reuben Tam
from Auction House Records.
Fault and Weathering
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Shirley J. Grainger, September 2003:

I met Reuben Tam on Monhegan Island, off the coast of Maine, in the early 1970s and admired his work tremendously. Red Tide at Sunset (c.1975), which appears in Monhegan Island: the Artists' Island, by Jane and Will Curtis and Frank Lieberman, is a fine example of his work.  He and his wife, Geraldine, summered there for many years, along with distinguished Greenwich Village painters William McCartin and John Hultberg.

I also remember meeting Charles Martin (known to many as CEM for his front covers of the New Yorker) and Hans Moller, and hearing talk of Zero Mostel, who had recently bought a house there, and Jamie Wyeth, but they were away from the island at the time.

What I remember most about my visit to Monhegan Island was how friendly and accessible all of these painters were, and how welcomed I was into their homes and studios.  I had travelled on the overnight bus from Boston to Boothbay Harbor with Jan, the wife of William McCartin, and we took the boat over to Monhegan together. I especially remember my meetings with Reuben Tam, his French beret at a jaunty angle. I remember him as a modest man with a delightful sense of humor. He had a young protege there on one of the visits, but I cannot remember his name. Reuben thought this man was highly talented with a great future ahead of him... I did not meet his wife--she must have been away at the time.

Although I was staying at the Island Inn, I divided my time between the McCartins, Reuben Tam, John Hultberg, and Charles Martin, in the company of a young man who was on the island trying to write his first novel!

It was a very relaxed atmosphere. Our conversations were always of the contemporary art scene, the history of Monhegan Island, and the great winter storms and their admiration for the lobstermen who lived on the island year round.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Landscape painter, educator, and graphic artist, Reuben Tam has been described as a man of two islands because he was born and spent much of his adult life in Kapaa, Hawaii and spent most of his summers on Monhegan Island, Maine.  He was also known as an artist who interpreted the moods of nature.

He earned a BA degree from the University of Hawaii in 1937, and also studied at the California School of Fine Art, at Columbia University with Meyer Schapiro, and at the New School of Social Research in New York City.  From 1946 to the 1970s, he taught at the Brooklyn Museum Art School.

His paintings are in the New York collections of the Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art and in Washington DC at the Hirshhorn Museum and Corcoran Gallery and the Honolulu Academy of Art.

Reuben Tam died in Hawaii in January 1991 of lymphoma.

Sources include:
The New York Times obituary, January 8, 1991;
Who Was Who in American Art by Peter Falk:

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Kapaa, Kauai, HI on Jan. 17, 1916. Tam studied at the University of Hawaii, CSFA, and Columbia University. Following WWII he settled in NYC. Upon retirement in the 1970s, he returned to Hawaii and died in Kapaa on Jan. 3, 1991. Exh: GGIE, 1939; NY World's Fair, 1939; Crocker Art Gallery (Sacramento), 1940; SFAA, 1940; CPLH, 1940 (solo); Honolulu AA; LACMA, 1945. In: Honolulu Academy of Art; IBM; NY Public Library.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
SF Chronicle, 10-27-1940; Who's Who in American Art 1947-70.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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