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Amedeo Modigliani

Painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani died on this date in 1920. Best known for painting elongated, nude women with impassive, mask-like faces, Modigliani became a drug and alcohol abuser who lived a starving artist’s life in Paris until dying from tubercular meningitis at age 36. He was born into a Sephardic family in Livorno, Italy, […]

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December 9: Mark Gertler and D.H. Lawrence

Painter Mark Gertler, whose life, poverty, and death inspired at least three fictional characters — the main protagonist of Gilbert Cannan’s novel Mendel, Herr Loerke in D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love, and Gombauld in Aldous Huxley’s Crome Yellow — was born in London on this date in 1891. Gertler, according to his biographer Sarah […]

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November 4: Raphael Soyer’s Canvases

The leftwing painter Raphael Soyer, the best-known of three artist brothers (including his twin Moses and Isaac), died at 87 on this date in 1987. Soyer was admired for his realistic street scenes and his intimate paintings of people in face-to-face circumstances or states of introspection during the Great Depression. He was also known  for […]

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An Interview with Tamar Zinn

Over at 365 Artists 365 Days, Jewish Currents editorial board member and painter Tamar Zinn is interviewed about her work, particularly her new series Blacks and Whites and Tangle. It’s tempting (but maybe too easy?) to see the former as her most recent experiments in color and the latter as her most recent in line, […]

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January 13: Chaim Soutine

The prolific expressionist painter Chaim Soutine was born in Smilavichy, a town near Minsk (in modern-day Belarus) on this date in 1893. His interest in art was opposed by his Orthodox family and community, and he is said to have been beaten in punishment after presenting a rabbi his portrait. “The suffering he experienced within […]

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July 24: Alex Katz

Alex Katz, who destroyed some thousand of his own works of art before finding his style in the 1950s — a figurative, cartoonish style that has been called a precursor to Pop Art — was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1927. His flat, mostly large-scale paintings are predominantly portraits and landscapes; his 1968 […]

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July 14: Gustav Klimt’s Jewish Models

Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, who led the “Secession” movement of painters and architects from Vienna’s conservative art establishment in 1897, was born on the outskirts of Vienna on this date in 1862. Klimt was Catholic, but he had many Jewish patrons and backers and used several Jewish women as models — including Adele Bloch Bauer, […]

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May 20: Hedda Sterne and the Irascibles

Painter Hedda Sterne was the lone woman among 18 abstract expressionist painters who wrote a letter to Roland L. Redmond, president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, on this date in 1950, protesting the museum’s conservative selection of jurors for its exhibition, “American Painting Today — 1950.” “The undersigned painters,” said the letter, “reject the […]

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February 8: Painter of the Poor

German naturalist painter Max Liebermann, who became known as a “painter of the poor” for his portraits of Dutch farmers and tradespeople during his annual summer sojourns in the Netherlands, died on this date in 1935. Liebermann was professor at the Royal Academy of Arts in Berlin. He was the son of a wealthy family […]

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January 29: Barnett Newman and His “Zips”

An abstract painter and lifelong anarchist who specialized in intense color-field paintings, Barnett Newman was born in New York on this date in 1905. His best-known works are large canvases painted in flat yet vibrant colors with long lines — he called them “zips” — crossing the canvases and defining their space. Some of his works […]

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