Gershon Benjamin (1899-1985)
An American Modernist of portraits, landscapes, still lives, and the urban scene, Gershon Benjamin sustained an active career for over seven decades. Dedicated to an artistic expression that was personal and honest, Benjamin believed: "To feel is to know and to know is to feel; all my paintings represent that through color, line, and subject."
Born in Romania, Gershon Benjamin moved with his family to Montreal, Canada in 1891. He began studying art when he was ten, taking classes at the Council of Arts and Manufacturers of the Province of Quebec. Among his teachers was the prominent Edmond Dyonnet. In 1913, Benjamin was admitted to the Royal Canadian Academy, where he was taught and encouraged by William Brymner, who was also president of the Academy.
In 1923, Gershon Benjamin moved to New York, where he began working the night shift at the New York Sun's art department, and enrolled at the Art Students League. Among his teachers at the League were Joseph Pennell, from whom he learned engraving, and John Sloan, with whom he studied figural drawing.
While in New York, Gershon Benjamin began to associate with a circle of progressive-minded artists that included Milton Avery, Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, Arshile Gorky as well as Raphael and Moses Soyer. The artists often painted together and critiqued each other's work. Benjamin was neither interested in commercial success nor in competing with other artists for notoriety. Although many of his artist friends became famous, Benjamin was content to simply paint, supported by his job at the New York Sun. It was due to this perspective that Benjamin’s life's work remained largely unknown and became highly sought-after.
Benjamin is represented in many private collections, as well as in public collections including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; Berkeley Heights Public Library; Drew University; Griffiths Art Center, St. Lawrence University; and Ulrich Museum of Art.