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 John R. Grabach  (1886 - 1981)

About: John R. Grabach
 

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Lived/Active: New Jersey/California      Known for: figure, urban scene and portrait painting, teaching

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BIOGRAPHY for John Grabach
Facts/Data
Birth
1886 (Newark, New Jersey)
 
Death
1981 (Irvington, New Jersey)

Lived/Active
New Jersey/California


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Often Known For
figure, urban scene and portrait painting, teaching

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San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
Biography from Crocker Art Museum Store:
 A ceramist and painter, John Grabach was born in Newark, New Jersey on March 2, 1886.  Grabach studied at the Art Students League of New York City.

He was active in Los Angeles in the 1920s but spent most of his career as a resident of lrvington, New Jersey.  He died there in March 1981.

Exhibitions:
Painters & Sculptors of Los Angeles, 1927, 1928.

Sources:
Mantle Fieldings's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers
Who Was Who in American Art, 1936-1970
Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
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.

Biography from Jim's Of Lambertville:
John Grabach was a highly regarded New Jersey artist, teacher and author of a classic text, How to Draw the Human Figure.  He was born in Massachusetts, and with his widowed mother, moved to Newark, New Jersey, when he was eleven.

Starting out as a die-cutter for a silverware firm, Grabach also designed important works of sterling silver hollow ware and Art Deco glass designs for several high-end retail manufacturers.  He designed United States stamps for the Treasury Department and designed holiday greeting cards for several firms.  Grabach enrolled in courses at the Art Students League in his spare time, studying under George Bridgman, Frank Dumond, Kenyon Cox and H. August Schwabe.

Considered a leading figure in the Newark School of Painters, his powerful Ashcan style paintings depicting scenes of New York City and Newark are truly American masterpieces.  He captures the expressions and mood of his subjects in these complex compositions on par with any of the highly regarded Ashcan painters of this period. Similar in many ways to his contemporary, George Bellows, Grabach was gifted in portraying the everyday events of working class folks, and translating their ordinary daily routines into something extraordinary to look at.

Whether it be his native blue-collar Newark neighborhood, a crew of gruff dockworkers or something as regular and uninteresting as men eating soup, John Grabach had the ability to turn virtually any subject into appealing and worthy art.

From the 1920s through the 1960s, Grabach was the subject of numerous one-man exhibitions in prestigious galleries and institutions across the country.  In 1980, The Smithsonian Institute, in Washington, D.C., honored Grabach with a solo retrospective show of his work.  This was an unusual tribute for a still living artist.

Grabach was a dedicated and beloved teacher at the Newark School of Industrial Design for many years and among his favorite students was Henry Gasser.

Grabach’s work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Philadelphia Art Alliance, among many others.


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