Israel Abramofsky

(Pereiaslav, Russia (now Pereiaslav, Ukraine), 1888 - 1975, Toledo, Ohio)

American, born Russia

Abramofsky once said, “If you saw ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ you will have some concept of my life as a Jewish child in a Russian village at the close of the 19th century.” Abramofsky’s childhood in Kiev included being arrested for attending a lecture on Zionism, landing him in a Siberian prison. After being released at the age of 18, he lived under bridges in Vienna, Austria until making his way to the United States, where he eventually settled in Toledo, Ohio.

In Toledo, Abramofsky began working for a local company as a radiator welder, but sketched with local artists in his free time. Recognizing his talent, Abramofsky’s friends encouraged him to study in Paris. He began his studies there in 1913 at the Académie Julien with Jean Paul Laurens, Lucien Simon, and Paul Berges. Abramofsky spent fourteen years in Paris between 1913 and 1934.

Major influences in Abramofsky’s art are modernists he encountered in Paris. Abramofsky was particularly impressed by the use of color and composition in Matisse and Cézanne’s paintings and the cubist handling of space in the works of Picasso and Braque. Abramofsky’s painting subjects range from landscapes, Toledo welfare recipients and childhood memories of Russian Jewish traditions. His works are included in the collections of the Luxembourg Museum, Paris; the Brooklyn Museum, NY, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.

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