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 Fred J. Berman  (1926 - 2011)

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Lived/Active: Wisconsin      Known for: abstract painting, teaching, assemblage, collage, photography

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
In 1955, Fred Berman, an art teacher at the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, had read that Katherine Kuh, curator at the famed Art Institute of Chicago, was putting together a show of American modern artists for the Venice Biennale. Berman loaded several of his paintings into his father’s car and drove to Chicago. At the loading dock of the Art Institute Ms. Kuh looked over his works and said, “Double congratulations, for being so young and painting so well.”

He was 29 and his painting, one of his White City series, hung in Venice alongside works by deKooning, Pollock, and Rothko.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s Berman’s paintings would also be featured in exhibtions at the Corcoran Gallery (Washington, D.C.), the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York City), and the Royal Academy of Art (London).

Berman worked in a variety of media including oils, pastels, collages and photography. He took up the later after breaking a finger which prevented him from painting. When not creating art, he was creating artists serving on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee for decades.

And apparently he was a big Brewers fan. From his obituary: “He wanted to see Ryan Braun selected as the National League most valuable player,” his son, Joe Berman, said last week. “And that just happened.”

Mr. Berman was 85 years old.

Online Source:

Biography from Museum of Wisconsin Art:
Biographical Brief: Fred J. Berman

1948, B.S. in Art Education, Milwaukee State Teachers College
1949, M.S. in Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Work Experiences:
1949-1960, taught art, Layton School of Art, Milwaukee
1960, joined faculty at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
1993, retired from full-time teaching

Represented in the permanent collection of the Miller Art Museum, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; and Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, Wisconsin

Fred Berman began his art education at the Milwaukee State Teachers College where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education in 1948.  He received his Master of Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1949.

Berman began his teaching career at the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee. In 1960 he began teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and was a member of the Wisconsin Painters & Sculptors.

Berman’s paintings, many of them abstract, reveal an interest in urban infrastructure, life, and effects of time and nature upon city life.  Berman is also known for his work in collage, wooden assemblages and photography.

Selected One-Person Exhibitions
Milwaukee Art Institute, Wisconsin
Layton School of Art, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Paintings and Prints by Fred Berman, Milwaukee Art Center, Wisconsin
Wustum Museum of Art, Racine, Wisconsin
Bradley Galleries, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (also 1972, 1976 and 1983)
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, Rhode Island
Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Kresge Art Gallery, Michigan State University, East Lansing
Camden Arts Centre, London, England         Reading University, Reading, England
Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Fred Berman Paintings & Collage Drawings from the 1980’s, Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI

Selected Group Exhibitions
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., “23rd Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting”
Italy, “Venice Biennale” Milwaukee Art Institute, Wisconsin
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York, “Young America”
Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, ”National Drawing and Small Sculpture Exhibition”
Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin"Wisconsin Directions 2: Here and Now”
Kit Basquin Gallery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Selected Awards
Recipient  of one of the Wisconsin Visual Arts Lifetime Achievement Awards
© 10/17/2007 Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, WI 11/15/2011

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