1900 (Hartford, Connecticut)
1991 (New York City)
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painting-genre, landscape, interiors, portraits
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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|The following is with the permission of the author, Jeanette Hendler, and the article was published in Fine Arts Trader, April 1996:|
AARON BERKMAN (1900-1991)
"THE WPA MASTER TEACHER AND ARTIST"
by Jeanette Hendler
Berkman was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1900, the youngest of four
children. His parents had settled there around 1885. He
demonstrated early talent and encouraged by his parents, from 1916-18,
he attended the Connecticut League of Art Students, founded by Charles
Noel Flagg, Connecticut's official portrait painter. From 1919-21 he
was a student of Albertus E. Jones at the Hartford Art School. Berkman
stated that he was influenced during this time by George Inness and
John Singer Sargent and the Old Masters.
He received a
Scholarship to the Museum Art School of Boston from 1921-24 and then
traveled to Europe, remaining there from 1924 through 1925. He
spent time in France, Italy, Spain, Holland and Belgium.
the years of 1926-28, Berkman had one man shows at the Wadsworth
Atheneum, Hartford; Babcock Galleries, New York; and Grace Home
Galleries, Boston, Massachusetts.
In 1929, during the
Depression, he moved to New York City, continuing a friendship and
painting relationship with Milton Avery. Marrying Victoria Artese
in 1931, he was appointed by the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration)
to a Directorship position at the WPA Art Center of the 92nd Street Y
in New York City, at a Directors salary of $23.50 per week. He
was in charge of a Seventeen (17) member WPA Artist Faculty. The
school gave free tuition and had several hundred students. During this
period, with Herman Baron ad Director, Berkman established the A.C.A.
Gallery in New York City at 52 West 8th St., the first Artist
Cooperative Gallery in New York City.
Summers were spent from
1939-1945 on Monhegan Island, Maine, in addition to summers on Cape
Ann, Massachusetts, the Connecticut Shore,Vermont and the Adirondacks
where many of his available works were painted. During this same
period, Berkman also wrote a regular column "ARTICUS COMMENTS" for ART
FRONT with Herman Baron, as the Editor.
When the United States
Government terminated the WPA at the 92nd Street Y, it then became the
Y Art Center, with Berkman remaining as the Director. In addition
to being the Director, Berkman also taught classes there on Art and
lectured on Art History.
Berkman, during this period, had
one-Man Exhibitions at Stovola Gallery in Hartford, Connecticut in
1933, Erick Newhouse Galleries, New York City in 1935 and A.C.A.
Galleries, New York City in 1932 and 1934 in addition to many group
Among the writings produced by Berkman was as a regular contribution to the American Mercury (Debate with Jacob Burke "Art as Propaganda-1932) and in the American Spectator "Sociology of the Comic Strip" 1934.
the Director of the Y Art Center in New York City until his mandatory
retirement at age 65 in 1965, he had additional One-Man Exhibitions at
Associated American Artists, NYC, in 1945; Erick Newhouse Galleries,
NYC, 1952; Babcock Galleries, NYC, 1954; Kaufman Art Gallery, NYC, in
1945, 1952, 1962 and 1966.
The Group Exhibitions included the
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York; The Connecticut Academy of Fine
Arts, A.C.A. Gallery, New York; John Myers Gallery 21, New York;
Norlyst Gallery, New York; Morgan Memorial, Hartford, Connecticut; The
Riverdale Museum; the American Watercolor Society, New York; Roerich
Museum, New York; The New School, New York; Bronx, New York Museum of
the Arts; the W.P.A. Artists 50th Anniversary Exhibition; Audubon
Artists, NYC; The New York WPA Artists Exhibition at Passaic County
College, Passaic, New Jersey; and the Borough Presidents Gallery, New
Berkman also received a Fellowship to Yaddo in 1956
and another Fellowship to the Huntington Hartford Foundation in Pacific
Palisades, California in 1958. His Memberships included
Director-at-Large of Artists Equity and National Board Member and
International Cultural Relations Committee Member (1958-1962) and
Audubon Artists Member.
He wrote two books. Art and Space was published in 1948 by Social Sciences Publishers and The Functional Line was published in 1952 by Thomas Yoseloff Publishers. During the years 1955 - 60, he was a columnist for ARTnews,
writing a column entitled, "Amateur Standing". Berkman was also
on the Advisory Committee with Steve Wheeler at "THE FOUR O'CLOCK
FORUMS LECTURE SERIES" 1953-55.
Amongst his many listings,
Berkman is listed in WHO'S WHO IN AMERICAN ART, FRICK LIBRARY INDEX OF
AMERICAN ART, WORLD BIOGRAPHY, WHO'S WHO IN WORLD JEWRY,
Berkman retired from the position at the Y Art Center, he established
Bercone Gallery, New York City. There, he continued to paint,
teach and exhibit. His work appears in many corporate, private and
Written and submitted by Jeanette Hendler, Art Dealer, New York City
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