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 Pinchas Burnstein Maryan  (1927 - 1977)

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Lived/Active: New York / Poland      Known for: expressionist painting, linoleum cuts

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Poland in 1927 with the name of Pinchas Burstein, Maryan, became a modernist artist whose work reflected the nightmarish existence he led as a Jew during his formative years.  "He has succeeded in making his grim autobiography into art." (Glueck) At age 12, he was arrested with his family and spent the nex six years at Auschwitz concentration camp.  During that period, he had a leg amputated.  However, he lived and was liberated in 1945, when the Russians came through, but the rest of his family, including his father who was a baker, had died.

After the war, he studied in Jerusalem, and in 1950 moved to Paris, where he enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  He settled in New York City in 1962, living in the 1970s at 301 East 63rd Street.

Much of his artwork, likely reflecting his experiences in the concentration camps, is "brutal, boisterous, aggressive, and theatrical" with bright colors, solitary figures called Personages and exaggerated poses---"caught in the comedy of the human condition" (baumgold).  His work in the 1950s was had primarily Jewish themes, and spoke much of brutality, but later his work became more generalized.  In the 1960s, he injected some clownish humor with figures that were "mocking, clownish zombies with masklike faces and lolling tongues. . . Later they got wilder and more gestural, with maybe a touch of de Kooning, winding up as slobbering, almost illeglible bundles of mouths, flailing limbs and flying organs. . . Petty, sly and dumb they were not only oppressors, but victims as well." (Glueck)

In 2002, an exhibition of his work, Maryan: Works from the 60s, at the Adam Baumgold Gallery, featured paintings, works on paper and linoleum cuts that the artist did after his move to New York in 1962.   A description of that event includes the following:

"The exhibition features a large painting "Personnage," 1962, that shows the twisted upper torso of a man in military uniform - fingers bloody, tongue skewered defiantly to the side of his mouth with two solitary red chess pieces on either side of his body. A series of eight linoleum cuts from 1962 has costumed, seated figures with part comical, part maniacal facial expressions and wildly gesticulating hand movements. These works are done with a bold and crisp line that is the organizing force in all the drawings and works on paper in the exhibition."

"Maryan's work was linked at times to movements such as CoBrA, Nouvelle Figuration, and other artists, among them Peter Saul, Philip Guston, and H.C. Westermann, as well as the Chicago Imagists, Jim Nutt and Ed Paschke, but the very personal nature of his oeuvre makes it unique and original. That Maryan was an artist provided him with the means to address his life experiences on his own terms - his 'Truth Paintings,' as he called them, are 'autobiographical" - "I will be myself in any color I put on the canvas.' "

In 1969, he was part of the Whitney Museum's exhibition, "Human Condition/Personal Torment", and in 1972 was featured at the Solomon R. Guggenheim exhibition, "Ten Independents."

Sources include:

Grace Glueck, "Art: Survey of Paintings by Maryan at 2 Galleries", The New York Times, January 31, 2007 (Published 2/15/1985)

Who's Who in American Art, 1976

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