Benn, ben

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BENN, BEN (Benjamin Rosenberg ; 1884–1983), U.S. painter. Benn was born in Russia and immigrated to New York with his family in 1889. After studying drawing in high school, he attended the National Academy of Design in New York City from 1904 to 1908, where he received traditional art training with Jewish classmates Benjamin *Kopman and William *Zorach. His first exhibition, "Oils by Eight American Artists," showed in New York at the Artist's Gallery. A 1915 El Greco exhibition at the Knoedler Gallery made an important impact on Benn, after which time he began to gently distort the human figure and employ a more painterly approach. Benn participated in the Forum Exhibition of Modern American Painters in 1916, organized by avant-garde artists of the period, including Alfred *Steiglitz. Although at times his palette would darken, throughout his career Benn painted simplified portraits, stilllifes, and landscapes, influenced by the vibrant and colorful fauvist tendencies of Henri Matisse and the vigorous brushstroke of Chaim *Soutine. He had several one-man shows, notably an exhibition at the Jewish Museum in 1965. His works can be found in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


B. Benn, Ben Benn: An American Painter, 18841983 (1983); S. Geist, "Ben Benn," in: Art Digest, 28 (Oct. 1953): 15, 25–28.

[Samantha Baskind (2nd ed.)]