Milton Resnick

(Bratslav, Ukraine, 1917 - 2004)

North America, American, born Russia

Born Rachmiel Resnick to Jewish parents in Ukraine at the height of the Russian Revolution, Milton Resnick’s family immigrated to Brooklyn in 1922. Resnick is best known as a pioneer of abstract expressionism. Although Resnick originally trained in architectural lettering and drafting, when the Great Depression dealt a severe blow to the building industry, he transferred his attention first to commercial art and then fine arts at the American Artists School in the early 1930s. There he met fellow artists Ad Reinhardt and Willem de Kooning, with whom he would later collaborate. After serving in the Army during World War II, Resnick returned to New York City ready to paint. By 1946, both he and de Kooning were both developing an abstract vocabulary of curvilinear forms.

Though commonly grouped with artists of the New York School, Resnick objected to labels in general, stating, “I am not an action painter. I am not an Abstract Expressionist. I am not younger than anybody or older.” Beginning in the late fifties, Resnick’s paintings changed dramatically. The gestural marks on huge canvases became progressively smaller and the color fields became increasingly uniform, a dramatic shift from his earlier works with clearly delineated brushstrokes and a multitude of color. In 1961 he married the painter Pat Passlof and soon established what would become his signature style for the next thirty years: large, heavily impastoed monochromes. In the 1990s, imagery reappeared in his paintings in the form of human figures and emblematic marks.

Resnick taught at the New York Studio School. His work is represented in many public collections, including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

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