"Beautiful Sleeper," charcoal pencil, 14X18, Collection: Portland Museum of Art, Maine
On view September 8ꠠ December 2, 2001
This installation, part of an ongoing series highlighting significant gifts to the Museum࣯llection of works on paper, celebrates a recent gift of 16 drawings which span almost 20 years of work by noted contemporary artist Sigmund Abeles. This wonderful group of drawings allows the viewer to see the strength of Abeles橳ion and technique⯭ finely finished graphite portraits such as Beautiful Sleeper (above), to quick sketches that capture, in a few lines, both the form and mood of the model. Figurative drawing has been at the heart of Abeles' work since he decided to become an artist at the age of 14, and he continues to use a consistent discipline of drawing to explore the expressive possibilities of the human body as well as its underlying structure.
Raised in South Carolina, Abeles received a B.F.A. from the University of South Carolina, Charleston, and studied at the Pratt Institute, New York; the Art Students League, New York; and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine. After moving to New York City in 1 936, he studied printmaking at The Brooklyn Museum School and received an M.F.A. from Columbia University. During army service in Europe from 1937-1960, he began to explore sculpture. He stopped painting while teaching at Wellesley College in the late 1960s, when he rededicated himself to printmaking and drawing. Abelesలimary teaching career was at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, a post he resigned in 1987, after 17 years, to pursue his art full魥.
Abeles is perhaps best known for his ᳴el paintings"⩣hly colored and textured images that attain the grand scale and ambition of painting, while retaining the intimacy of drawing. The bedrock of these works lies in the quality of the drawing, a skill that requires constant practice in order to transcend the mechanical and achieve the psychological weight Abeles demands of his work. Far from being mere sketches, the works in Drawn to the Figure are vital manifestations of the sustained creativity of Abeles' unique vision.
Aprile Gallant, Curator of Works on Paper, Portland Museum of Art, ME
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ఱ by Sigmund Abeles