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 Steven Burt Nussdorf  (1948 - )

About: Steven Burt Nussdorf


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Lived/Active: New York/Florida      Known for: minimalist painting and drawing

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Biography from Richard Beau Lieu & Associates Fine Art Appraisers:
Steven Burt Nussdorf was born in the Bronx in 1948 and grew up in the middle of Manhattan, New York.  According to him it was a busy place to grow up in.  His father, Milton M. Nussdorf, had advanced degrees in clinical psychology, worked in personnel management and later in the insurance field.  Dorothy B. Nussdorf wrote, acted, became a teacher, then a guidance counselor, and later returned to acting, doing dramatic biographies of various well known performers.  Her appreciation of art inspired Steve’s early interest.

Public and later private school offered little art instruction, and Steve occasionally took classes at the Art Students’ League, Pels Art School, the Brooklyn Museum, along with some private instruction.  He also worked on painting at home. However, the pressures from environment and school were formidable so time spent doing art was not consistent.

While still in his teens, Steve became the youngest winner of a prestigious state and national art contest which brought him some public attention.  Jack Levine and Raphael Soyer acknowledged his work along with the New York State Council of the Arts.  In addition numerous others became interested in his work. 

To please the practical side of his parents Steve attended the University of Michigan’s Design program, and then after a time returned to New York to continue where he left off.  He again took classes at the Art Students’ League, the National Academy of Design, and studied by himself.  Later, he took a year off to study in Minneapolis at Atelier Lack, an offshoot of the Gammel Studios in Boston.

Back in New York, not fully satisfied with his training, Steve ventured out and had some measure success.  The Collector and Patron Brent Green patronized his work and helped him find buyers.  He married, sold a work to the Ford Foundation, and continued painting.

Steve and his wife, Margaret Derouleaux, an accomplished folk painter, coauthored a book called Dress For Health.  It applied principles of health and diet to dressing, which was seen as the basic architecture for the body.  Buckminster Fuller wrote it was an idea he wanted to write about in 1927.  The book got favorable reviews in major newspapers and magazines and ended up in 180 libraries as a resource, including Harvard University, Pratt Institute and Fashion Institute of Technology.  

Gauguin wrote on one of his last paintings on the upper left hand corner “who are we, where are we going, where are we from?”  At some point Steve’s direction in art had become confused, he again was single, and he felt the need to take time to search for some answers.

Newly relocated in Florida, Steve reinvented himself and his art along the line of his renewed thinking.  Color was eliminated, so were backgrounds, and his work was simplified.  It was just the object or the person.  His work was basic and simplified.  He calls it “art for these times.”

In Florida, Steve had shows at the Dalphna Gallery and Gallery 22 in Boca Raton, the Salvatore Principe Gallery and Max Power Gallery in Delray Beach.  Presently his work can be seen in The Neighborhood Gallery in Boynton Beach, the Unique Art Gallery in Jupiter, and the West Essex Gallery in Montclair, New Jersey.  He has received various awards and publicity in Florida.

Steve also writes text and poetry that accompanies his pictures and reads them at community events including the Boynton Beach Library and the Norton Museum of Fine Art in West Palm Beach.  He authored a small booklet called Breakthroughs encouraging the individual to embrace an inward journey.  Steve is presently working on a book that will include his writings and drawings.

Artist Statement:

My father a long time ago said that we don’t know how different experiences in our lives add up to the whole.  When looking back for advice this stands out, for its how things did resolve themselves in my life.

The seemingly unrelated periods of studying, working, drawing, writing, daydreaming, searching and testing went in all different directions.  It would take a very wide brush stroke to combine everything.  With energy and time being at a premium, I would have to strongly believe in whatever I do.

Using drawing, sketching writing, poetry, I attempt to record pieces of our human experience.  Moments of vulnerability, silence, and thoughtfulness are sought. Principles of life are wrestled with. In my aloneness I reach out to others.

Directions are hinted at and doubts are admitted.  Given enough time and patience and tolerance, some answers might come.  Contradictions are not forced to resolve themselves, but accepted.  Should life be taken as is, or should we search for meaning?  I attempt to record the tension between these two poles, along with the big reconciliation. These are the issues I wrestle with and do my best to capture.

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