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 Sergei R. Bongart  (1918 - 1985)

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Lived/Active: California/Idaho / Russian Federation/Ukraine      Known for: tonalist landscape, still life, and portrait painter, educator

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Ad Code: 3
Sergei Bongart
from Auction House Records.
Still life with sunflowers in a vase
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An award-winning artist known as a colorist, Sergei Bongart worked in a variety of media--oil, casein, watercolor, gouache and tempera--and did a variety of subjects including portraits, landscapes, still lifes and cowboys.  He was also a highly influential teacher of drawing and painting at his Sergei Bongart School of Art, which he opened in Santa Monica, California in 1949 and operated for many years.

He was born and raised in a small village in the Ukraine of Russia called Zhukovki, and inherited his love of art from his father who was an art collector and poet.  When age sixteen, the young Bongart began art study at the Art Academy of Kiev with Michael Yarovoy and Peter Kotov, well-known Russian artists.  Within two years, Bongart was getting recognition including museum representation.

He left Russia in the 1940s, traveled in Europe, and emigrated to the United States in 1948.  He first lived in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was a portraitist.  In 1954, he moved to California, settling in Santa Monica, and lived and painted there during the winter months.  He explored western art to the extent that he earned the nickname of "the cowboy from Kiev."  In the summer, he conducted summer workshops at his place in Rexburg, Idaho, where he had twenty acres of land with a house and adjoining studio.
He wrote an article about the decline of art, which was published in Sergei Bongart by Mary Balcomb.

Bongart was an associate member of the National Academy of Design, the American Watercolor Society, England's Royal Society of Arts, and the National Academy of Western Art.

He died in 1985 and was survived by his wife, Patricia, and a host of students who formed the Sergei Bongart Society to promote his work.

The first posthumous exhibition of his work was held December 1988 at the Bongart Studio in Santa Monica, California, by Patricia Bongart. Another exhibition was held the following year at San Juan Capistrano from September 12 to October 5, 1999.

Mary Balcomb, 'Sergei Bongart', Southwest Art, March 2003
Gordon McClelland and Jay Last, California Watercolors 1850-1970
Additional information courtesy of Patricia LeGrande Bongart

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