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"Over Seven Decades: the Art of Gershon Benjamin"

Spanierman Gallery, New York City

 

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About the Artist

 

Gershon Benjamin was born in Romania in 1899, and immigrated to Canada with his family in 1901. He lived, studied and worked in Montreal for 22 years before moving to New York City.

Benjaminís education started at age 10 when he was enrolled at the Council of Arts and Manufacturers. Four years later he advanced to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Manufacturers, where he studied under the tutelage of prominent Canadian artist Edmond Dyonnet and at the Montreal Art Association under William Brymner. Concurrent with his fine arts training, Benjamin studied photo engraving which enabled him to establish a commercial career with newspapers in Montreal and New York. His passion for art extended to the performing arts; it was at the theatre where Benjamin was captivated by the performance of a young actress, Zelda Cohen, who later became his wife.

Attracted to the museums and art world of New York City  in 1923, Benjamin took a position with the New York Sun newspaper. For 36 years, at the New York Sun and the New York Journal American, he worked at night (starting at midnight) so that he could paint by day. Many of his paintings were conceived on the backs of matchbooks covers, sketched in the early morning hours on his way home from work. This schedule allowed him to paint in the evening with friends and fellow artists Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, John Sloan, Arshile Gorky, Raphael and Moses Soyer, Wallace Putnam and Milton Avery. As a group, they often shared the cost of hiring models and critiqued each others work.

During the decades that Benjamin lived in New York City, he continued his studies at Cooper Union, the Art Students League and the Art Alliance, mastered etching with Joseph Pennell and studied other media, but continued to favor oil and gouache. The body of work that Benjamin created from 1912 to 1985 demonstrates his broad and varied interests. It includes portraits, landscapes, still life, interiors, cityscapes and seascapes.

Gershon Benjaminís first one-man show was in 1936 at the Uptown Gallery, New York. His work has been seen in hundreds of shows since then, and is part of dozens of collections including the Griffiths Art Center, the Ulrich Museum and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He attracted exceptional notice in New Jersey during the 1980ís with one-man shows in a number of galleries, and in particular in 1983 at Drew University, and in 1984 at the New Jersey Institute of Technology where seventy of his paintings were exhibited in his largest one-man show. He died in 1985.

Today, the work that Benjamin created over 74 years, spanning the twentieth century, is administered by The Gershon Benjamin Foundation and exclusively represented by the Spanierman Gallery, New York City.


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Chairman of the Board

of the Gershon Benjamin Foundation.