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 Sigmund Morton Abeles  (1934 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/New Hampshire      Known for: figural sculpture, printmaking, teaching

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Sigmund Morton Abeles
An example of work by Sigmund Morton Abeles
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in New York City and spending much of his career in Northwood, New Hampshire, Sigmund Morton became a sculptor and printmaker, specializing in abstract figures.

He studied at the Pratt Institute and in 1955 earned a B.A. Degree from the University of South Carolina, and in 1957, an MFA from Columbia University. He was an instructor at the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1961-64; at Wellesley College, 1964-69; and then spent the remainder of his career at the University of New Hampshire where he became Professor Emeritus. He later returned to New York City where he teaches drawing at the National Academy School of Fine Arts.

Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"

Biography from The Cheryl Newby Gallery:
Born in 1934 in Brooklyn, New York, Sigmund Abeles grew up in Myrtle Beach, SC. As a young man, he spent countless days sketching and drawing the sculpture in nearby Brookgreen Gardens before leaving the low country to attend the University of South Carolina in Columbia.  Following graduation in 1955 from USC with a B.A. in Fine Arts, Abeles studied at the Art Students League of New York in NYC, the Skowhegan School in Maine and received a Masters in Fine Arts from Columbia University in 1957. Coastal Carolina University presented Abeles with an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts.

Much of his career has been spent in academic settings teaching at such schools as Wellesley College, Swain School of Design in Massachusetts, Boston University, the University of New Hampshire and the Art Students League of New York.  His studio is in New York City where he has lived since 1994. Abeles' work and teaching are focused in an intense and empathetic investigation of the human figure and how it relates to our times.  First and foremost, he believes an artist needs to be able to draw well, from life as well as memory and imagination, in order to communicate what he sees, senses, and dreams about, and to create convincing visual expression.

Abeles' work, mainly figurative, has been critically acclaimed and he has been a member of the prestigious National Academy since 1990.  Some of his awards are: National Institute of Fine Arts & Letters Award, National Council of Arts & Humanities Sabbatical Grant, and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant for Graphics.

His works are in permanent collections of leading institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art.

Biography from The Johnson Collection:
Sigmund Abeles was born in New York City in 1934. When Sigmund was just two years old, his parents separated and he moved with his mother to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Abeles received no art instruction in school, however, he credits the articles on artists featured in Life magazine as a major source of inspiration. He studied drawings from art books and practiced sketching daily. Searching for inspiration in Myrtle Beach, Abeles found Brookgreen Gardens, an outdoor sculpture museum, which provided him with a multitude of beautiful bronze and marble figures to sketch.

While a student at the University of South Carolina, Abeles attended the Art Students League in New York in the summer of 1954. The following year he had his first solo exhibition at the Florence Museum of Art in Florence, South Carolina. After attending the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine in 1955, he moved to New York City and entered the MFA program at Columbia University. Shortly after graduating, Abeles was drafted into the army and returned to South Carolina once again; this time for basic training at Fort Jackson in Columbia. Following his military service, Abeles embarked on his career as an art educator. He worked at various institutions in the Northeast, and in 1987 he resigned his teaching position at the University of New Hampshire to work in his studio full time.

Abeles' art is highly charged with emotion. He favors the human form in his drawings, paintings and sculptures saying, "In my art the depiction of the human form is everything." Abeles likes to tell stories through his art and attempts to connect to the universal experience by tapping into different aspects of the human condition. Abeles never shies away from reality, but rather embraces it by grappling with the tragedies, as well as the joys, of life. His artistic philosophy was revealed when he said that intensity, honesty, and empathy are of the utmost importance in his art. In 1976 he wrote, "I constantly seek for a corner to peel back the surface layers, hoping to reveal a bit more than single view point vision."

The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina.

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