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 Harry Bonath  (1903 - 1976)

About: Harry Bonath


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Lived/Active: Washington/California/Ohio      Known for: illustrator-advertising, abstract painting, graphics

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BIOGRAPHY for Harry Bonath
1903 (Bucyrus, Ohio)
1976 (Seattle, Washington)


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Often Known For
illustrator-advertising, abstract painting, graphics

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Bucyrus, Ohio, Harry Bonath settled in Seattle, Washington where he became cover illustrator for the Seattle Times Sunday Magazine.  He was also Art Director of Erwin Wasey & Company advertising firm. Harry was the first artist to have a solo exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum.

After serving in World War II, he opened Harry Bonath & Associates Advertising Agency in Seattle and worked there until his death.

He also won numerous awards for his fine-art painting.

Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
City of Sacramento Museum Collection Center
Seattle University, Permanent Collection

Sources include:
The artist's daughter-in-law
Wendy Weigman
Peter Hastings Falk (editor), Who Was Who in American Art

Biography from J. Franklin Fine Art, Inc.:

Though born in Bucyrus, Ohio May 29, 1903, Harry Bonath grew up in Sacramento, California, and gained this formal education at the California School of Fine Arts under the tutelage of Maynard Dixon and John D. Gerrity.  He was an active artist in Sacramento 1918-1926.  Coming to Seattle in 1927 as one of the young “California Style” school of modern/advertising artists, he opened a studio in the Skinner Building (where Eustace Ziegler also had a studio), became the cover illustrator for The Seattle Sunday Times Magazine, and eventually became the art director of two different advertising agencies prior to World War II, including Erwin Wasey & Co.  After serving with the Navy during World War II, he returned to Seattle to open an advertising art studio of his own -  Harry Bonath & Associates - which he directed until his death November 2, 1976.

Harry Bonath’s illustrations for The Seattle Sunday Times Magazine covers and Pacific 8 football program covers, as well as his articles in the Ford Times, and a host of other local, regional, and national advertising campaigns, gained for him a leadership position in the commercial art field.  He had the distinguished honor of doing the cover of the November 29, 1955 ‘Man of the Year’ issue of Time (The Weekly Newsmagazine).

His fame and reputation as a painter spread nationwide as he conducted his own art shows in San Francisco, Sacramento, New York and many galleries throughout the West held exhibitions of his work, including the Seattle Art Museum and the Frye Art Museum.  His 1937 & 1961 shows at the SAM were solo shows, while also exhibiting there in 1962.  Mr. Bonath’s exhibitions are to be found in the American Watercolor Society Annuals, the Northwest Annuals, and the Northwest Watercolor Annuals.  These and many other regional fine art exhibitions and appearances in the museums and private collections have provided him with national recognition as well as numerous awards.

His total involvement in his profession caused Harry Bonath to reach out to become one of the founders and a past president of the Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters.  His active membership in the Art Directors Society and the Studio Owners Association gained for him the position of president in each of these groups.  He found time also for active participation in the American Watercolor Society, West Coast Watercolor Society, Artists Equity, as well as being the vice-president of the Northwest Watercolor Society.

Biography from Crocker Art Museum Store:
Commercial artist, watercolorist. Born in Bucyrus, OH on May 29, 1903.

Bonath appears to have moved to California at an early age. He studied at the CSFA and with Maynard Dixon and John E. Gerrity.

He was active as an artist in Sacramento during 1918-26. He then went to Seattle and opened a studio in the Skinner Bldg.

He died there on Nov. 2, 1976. Member: American WC Society; Puget Sound Group; West Coast WC Society.

Exh: Seattle Art Museum, 1937, 1961 (solos), 1962. Tacoma News Tribune, 11-6-1976 (obit).
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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