Born in New York City on October 30, 1901, he began studying art at the National Academy of Design after becoming friendly with Adolph Gottlieb in the summer of 1928. Soon he transferred to the Art Student's League where he studied briefly under Boardman Robinson. He attributed his real education however to frequenting the studios of his mentors Milton Avery and Adolph Gottlieb during the 1930s. Bodin was part of a group of younger artists (nascent color field painters-namely Gottlieb, Rothko and Newman) who associated with Avery in Provincetown and Brooklyn during the 1930s and early 1940s.
During the Depression, Bodin found employment on the easel painting division of the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project. Bodin's tenement interiors, portraits of family members and self-portraits from this period show the influence of Avery in their flattened space, simplified and reduced forms, and quiet reflective mood.
Bodin's first abstract paintings and watercolors date from 1945. Concerned with elements of prehistory similar to those being explored by many of his better known contemporaries, Bodin's painterly, totemic Column series and his subsequent Fragments series (in which the columns are broken apart into many charged pieces) are highly accomplished yet little known examples of the beginning of post war modernist painting in America.
Until the early 1960s, Bodin's work was exhibited regularly in New York, including one-man shows at the Artist's Gallery, 1942; The Laurel Gallery, 1948, 1950; The New Gallery, 1952; and The Betty Parsons Gallery, 1959 and 1961. He has been included in group shows at The Santa Barbara Museum, 1949; The Brooklyn Museum, 1949, 1959; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1952; The Springfield Museum, 1952; and The Hudson River Museum, 1960.
With the shifting of interest in the New York art world from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art in the early 1960s however, Bodin's work as well as that of all but the most established Abstract Expressionists found little chance to be seen.
Bodin continued to paint for the rest of his life, working in series, exploring each theme until it led to something new. His final body of paintings Looking for Godot depicts variations on a twilit desert landscape which is populated by groupings of emotive, shell-like forms, suggestive of figures yet completely refined to the point of abstraction. They are searching for something, a reason or, perhaps an answer to the mystery of existence.
Paul has finished his search... (Bodin died of cancer at his home in Manhattan in 1994)
From the memorial biography written by family friend and young artist, James Wechsler, distributed at the memorial service in Paul Bodin's NYC apartment. Submitted by Aaron Bodin, son of Paul Bodin.