Benjamin Abramowitz

Benjamin Abramowitz ( July 3, 1917- November 21, 2011) was an American painter, printmaker and sculptor. First recognized for his remarkable contribution at age 19 as senior artist with the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in New York City, he is among the most respected Washington DC artists of the past century

Abramowitz was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1917 to Russian immigrants. As a young child he craved the artistry of signs, posters and illustrations, and was enraptured by the art in museums. Walking hours to study life drawing at the Brooklyn Museum School, at 16 the Brooklyn Museum honored him with his first solo exhibition. He attended the National Academy of Design, absorbing the models of the avant-garde and social-realists, studying the masters. In 1936 he joined the Work Projects Administration using the name of Ben Hoffman and moved through the ranks, as teacher, mural assistant, senior printmaker and painter.[5][6] He was 19 years old. The Metropolitan Museum in New York holds eleven lithographs from the young artist.

In 1941, with the world at war, Abramowitz moved to Washington, taking on U.S. government graphic assignments. He chose to make Greenbelt his base for both home and studio for more than half a century. The postwar years were a time of critical personal and artistic evolution for him. Two young children complicated his daily struggle for time and energy. By day a lithographer, each and every night driven by discipline, he drew and painted.

By the time he was in his early 30’s, Abramowitz had become a celebrated star in the growing Washington, DC-Baltimore regional art scene. From the 1940s on, critics, curators and collectors enthusiastically sought out his work. His work began to be purchased for major regional collections among them, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Phillips Collection. The Corcoran Gallery of Art selected his work annually for its biennial exhibitions. By the mid-20th century, Abramowitz, was recognized not only as a painter, but also as a teacher and “art coach” throughout the Washington metropolitan area. The Ford Foundation singled him out and sent him throughout the country, lecturing, conducting seminars and critiques as artist-in-residence. All the while, he kept journals and maintained an active correspondence with critics, curators and students.

By the 1970s, he moved beyond the canvas,and turned to making elegant and iconic wall works and freestanding sculptures, some black, some white, filling book after book with ideas for more. He designed four books illustrating the basic principles of the creative experience. Until his mid-80’s, when diminishing vision essentially prevented him from continuing to work, he created steadily and with the same discipline and vigor that marked his earlier years. By 2008, his early work in the WPA became increasingly valuable and recognized, and is currently featured in a touring exhibition.Abramowitz’ distinguished lifework has been cited in numerous prestigious biographical volumes.The National Archives of American Art holds hundreds of papers, letters and other materials.Wikipedia

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