Gershon Benjamin  (1899 - 1985) 

Gershon Benjamin, an American Modernist painter of portraits, landscapes, stilllifes, and urban scenes, sustained an active career for over seven decades. Dedicated to artistic expression that was both 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.”

Gershon Benjamin was born in Romania in 1899. As a small child, Benjamin _ed to Montreal with his family to escape the persecution of the Jews. 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 enrolled at the Royal Canadian Academy, where he was taught and encouraged by William Brymner, the president of the Academy at the time.

In 1923, Gershon and Zelda, an aspiring young actress and his soon-to-be wife, moved to New York City to pursue their artistic careers. He began working the night shift at the New York Sun’s art department and enrolled in the Art Students League. Among his teachers at the League were Joseph Pennell, from whom he learned engraving, and John Sloan, the figural drawing instructor.

While in New York, Gershon Benjamin began associating with a circle of progressive-minded artists, including Milton Avery, Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, Arshile Gorky, and Raphael and Moses Soyer. These artists often painted together and critiqued each other’s work. _e Benjamins forged a close, lifelong friendship with Milton and Sally Avery. The couples often served as subjects for the other’s paintings. Benjamin was neither interested in commercial success nor in competing with others for notoriety. Although many of these associates became infamous artists, Benjamin was content to simply paint, supported by his job at the New York Sun. This choice has enabled Benjamin’s work to remain largely unknown but highly sought-after.

Benjamin is represented in many private collections, as well as in public collections including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Berkeley Heights Public Library, Drew University, Gri_ths Art Center, St. Lawrence University, and Ulrich Museum of Art.