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 Leo Rabkin  (1919 - )

About: Leo Rabkin


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Lived/Active: New York/Ohio      Known for: mod-funk imagery, sculpture, teaching

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BIOGRAPHY for Leo Rabkin
1919 (Cincinnati, Ohio)
New York/Ohio

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mod-funk imagery, sculpture, teaching

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Biography from Hollis Taggart Galleries (Artists, R-Z):
Born in Cincinnati, Leo Rabkin attended the University of Cincinnati and, after serving in the U.S. Army, moved to New York City in 1945.  Rabkin turned his attention to art and began to study with William Baziotes and Hale Woodruff.  At the same time, he worked as a teacher and guidance counselor in the City.  With his wife, Dorothea, Rabkin, he is a well-known collector and has amassed a substantial amountof American folk art, now in the collection of the American Folk Art Museum.  It includes Shaker objects and furniture, Native American pottery, and nineteenth-century whirligigs.

In the 1950s, Rabkin created paintings with sculptural elements—patches, piercings, and stitching—that investigated three-dimensional space.  By the early 1960s, he explored watercolor and began experimenting with the box constructions that have come to define his work.

The exteriors of Rabkin’s boxes open to surprising accumulations. Often free-floating, the objects are subject to shifting, random movement.  The artist cultivates the viewer’s experience of play and spontaneity by using mirrors, lenses, and other reflective surfaces to illuminate the interiors in often-unanticipated ways.  Extolling the appeal of the unexpected, Rabkin explains: “To me all art must have illusion. It must be partial, accidental, intimate, and humane.”  Rabkin considers the handling of his small-scale boxes to be a personal or private experience.

From 1964 to 1978, Rabkin served as president of the Abstract American Artists group, of which he remains an active member. His work has been exhibited with, and collected by, many major collections of American art.

© Copyright 2008 Hollis Taggart Galleries

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