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 Joseph B. Abrahams  (1884 - 1969)

About: Joseph B. Abrahams


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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: Designer, graphic art, illustration, camouflage, calligraphy

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BIOGRAPHY for Joseph Abrahams
1884 (Grodno, Lithuania (Belarus))

New York

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Designer, graphic art, illustration, camouflage, calligraphy

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Joseph B. Abrahams (1884-1969)

Joseph B. Abrahams (July 4, 1884-July 1, 1969) was a Lithuanian-born American calligrapher and designer.

Born in Grodno, Lithuania (in what is now Belarus), he came to the U.S. at age six and was naturalized in 1905. While living in New York, he attended the National Academy of Design (1898-1905) and the Art Students League (1900-1905), then worked as a reporter for the New York Tribune. He was also an art editor for magazines, and a research assistant at both the New York Public Library and the Smithsonian Institution.

According to The New York Times, during World War I he was a “field supervisor in the civilian camouflage service in New York.”

Abrahams designed the bronze doors of Temple Emanu-El, and the interiors of the Century Theatre, the Ziegfield Follies and various New York restaurants, including Sherry’s and Delmonico’s.

As a skilled calligrapher, he made illuminated award citations for prominent civic leaders, among them Bernard Baruch and, beginning with Woodrow Wilson, nearly all U.S. Presidents until his death. He was quoted in The New York Times as having said: “I’d like to have done the Declaration of Independence. It should have been an illuminated manuscript. Can you imagine, it’s just written in ordinary handwriting.”

Anon, “Joseph B. Abrahams” in New York Times (July 2, 1969), p. 43.
Behrens, Roy R., Camoupedia: A Compendium of Research on Art, Architecture and Camouflage. Dysart, Iowa: Bobolink Books, 2009, p. 18.

Submitted by Roy R. Behrens, Professor of Art and Distinguished Scholar, University of Northern Iowa

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