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Sigmund Abeles was born 1934 in New York City and raised in South Carolina. His work deals with the expressive and psychological aspects of the figure; an art focused on the life cycle. Drawing informs all of his work. Abeles works in pastels, oils and the graphic media as well as sculpture. Currently Professor Emeritus from the University of New Hampshire, after 27 years of teaching, Abeles works full-time in his NYC and upstate NY studios. Recipient of numerous grants and awards, a National Academician; the work of Sigmund Abeles may be found in many public institutions including (among others) British Museum, Chicago Art Institute, Fogg Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Philadelphia Museum and Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2000, a successful solo exhibition was held at Thomas Williams Fine Arts, Old Bond St., London, UK. In 2004, the Pastel Society of America in New York awarded him as their Hall of Fame Honoree. In 2011, he was guest curator for An Artist’s Eye, an exhibition selected from the Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina’s permanent collection of 20thand 21st Century art. Concurrently, It Figures, a solo exhibition of his work, was held at the Columbia Museum of Art. In the same year, another solo, Drawn to the Figure, was mounted at the Kalamazoo Art Institute. In January 2012, Mr. Abeles was prominently featured in Manfred Kirchheimer’s feature length documentary, Art Is…The Permanent Revolution, focused on the methods of printmaking and the history of the art of protest in prints. Sigmund Abeles was born in Brooklyn to an orthodox Jewish father and a self-proclaimed "modern orthodox" mother. In 1936, at the age of 2, Sig and his mother left Brooklyn (and his father) for Myrtle Beach, SC, where his mother built a boarding house. He met with resistance from family members who recommended other, more stable and respectable professions. His father in particular was "ashamed and furious that making art was to be my calling" since this was clearly in opposition to the Second Commandment prohibiting the making of graven images. Sig persevered with art as his chosen vocation: "I credit Life magazine's excellent art features as bringing great art into my life and helping me determine a life commitment to making art was for me. My first centerfold, taped up over my bed was Life's fold out of the entire Sistine Ceiling.” Despite the prevailing winds of abstraction that were blowing across the nation, Sig remained resolute as a representational, figural artist: In 1954, Sig set off for New York City still confident in his calling as a figural artist. He realizes this not only through the range of subject matter, but also through his ability to manipulate the dramatic through his mastery of contrasting lights and darks visible in his drawings and prints. "I want the meaningfulness of my imagery to also mean something to the viewer, to be about life, from birth to death. It is the psychological insight and individuality of line as conveyor of emotion that links Sig to some of the great draftsmen (and women) of the past. Artists like Abeles remind us that the most common subject in the history of art-- the figure-- still has the power to capture our imagination.
“Sigmund Abeles ,” Westport Public Schools Digital Collections, accessed November 30, 2023, https://collections.westportps.org/items/show/1888.
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