It’s Day 207 and the dogs woke me up early…so I decided to get my painting done so that I can finish my last chapter of my book today. 🙂 Join me in honoring Leon Berkowitz today. When I looked at his paintings I thought it’d be an easy one…but alas, it wasn’t. Yet another lesson learned during the process of this project. 🙂 I decided to focus on a certain era of his paintings. They are wonderful and “known for their mystical radiance”.
Leon Berkowitz (1919–1987)
A painter, philosopher, and teacher, Leon Berkowitz was a central figure in the Washington Color School. He began his career as a landscape painter, but evolved into a painter of abstract canvases. Using glazes of oil to produce luminous effects, he created works noted for their mystical radiance.
Berkowitz was born in Philadelphia and studied at the University of Pennsylvania and the Art Students League in New York, as well as in Paris, Florence, and Mexico City. He was stationed in Virginia while serving in the army during World War II. After completing his military service, he moved to Washington, D.C. There he taught art, both in high schools and at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, where he was chairman of the painting department. He continued teaching until his death in 1987.
In 1945, Berkowitz established the Washington Workshop Center for the Arts, with his
first wife, Ida Fox, who was a poet. Established to foster artistic culture through an exchange of ideas, the center played an important role in the capital’s art scene. The painters associated with it included Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Gene Davis.
These artists, along with Berkowitz, would become known as the main figures in the Washington Color School. Berkowitz did not feel comfortable with this label, preferring to acknowledge “the greater influences of poetry, music, and physics” rather than a description of his art as color for its own sake.
After the center closed in 1956, Berkowitz spent a decade traveling extensively and living abroad with his wife. They resided for periods of time in Wales and Spain. Berkowitz developed his art in a new direction during this time. Merging art with structure, he created fully abstract works filled with mists of color and light. Berkowitz sought to restore to color a “depth of vision,” engaging the viewer in a discovery of the natural forms in the universe: sea, sky, and earth. His works have been related to those of Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko for their use of color for a meditational experience.
Berkowitz exhibited his work widely and received several awards, including a purchase prize
from the Flint Invitational, Michigan (1970)and a grant from the National Foundation for Arts and Humanities (1971). A solo exhibition of his work was held at Guelph University, Ontario, in 19170.
His work belongs to many important private and public collections including the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut; the Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Flint
Institute of Arts, Michigan; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the James A. Michener Collection, Houston, Texas; the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; the Tucson Museum of Art, Arizona; and the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut.
Biography is from Spanierman Modern Gallery’s website.
I hope you enjoy my piece today! It was difficult to emulate since I didn’t use oil glazes, but I tried to do the best I could with water colors and an enamel glaze! I will see you tomorrow on Day 208! Best, Linda