Schwartz, Manfred

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SCHWARTZ, MANFRED (1909–1970), U.S. painter, illustrator, and educator. Born in Lodz, Poland, he immigrated to New York in 1920 at the age of 11. In Paris, he attended the Sorbonne and the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere; in America, he was educated at the Art Students League, New York, the Cape Cod School of Art, and the National Academy of Design. Prodigiously talented, Schwartz exhibited at the inception of his career with such luminaries as Edward Hopper, Maurice Vlaminck, and Andrew Wyeth. His teachers included the Ashcan School artists John Sloan and Charles Hawthorne. He moved to Paris in 1929, where he studied both classicism and the art of his immediate predecessors, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, and Picasso. Schwartz also became active in the School of Paris. He was known first, from the mid 1930s through the 1940s, for a liberated, colorful version of synthetic cubism applied to circus subjects, such as jugglers and acrobats. The oil painting The Juggler (1935) demonstrates this period in his art: depicting a figure balanced on her torso with arms upraised as she juggles several balls, the composition is executed in vibrant reds, violets, and black, which flatten the already simplified forms. By 1950, Schwartz had already had several solo shows at prestigious galleries, including the Lilienfeld and Durand-Ruel Galleries. At the urging of Henri Matisse, he traveled to the French town of Étretat on the Normandy Coast in 1950. Having already obtained a reputation among French artists, including Courbet, Monet, and Braque, as an area with unparalleled luminosity, Étretat captured Schwartz's eyes and imagination as well: observing the movement of radiance and shadow on the town's seafront, the artist made paintings and drawings which reflected his new, keener sense of the relationship between color and light. Schwartz returned to Étretat in 1960. Unlike other artists who had visited this Normandy town, Schwartz did not focus on representation of the cliffs, but rather the beach, which he infused with color and light in order to stress the flatness of the canvas or paper. By the 1960s, he gradually restricted his work to a form of pointillism, based on empirical observation, which he mobilized in order to represent light, rather than landscape. Thousands of his cool, graded dots converge or disperse to describe constellations, nebulae, pebbles, and sand. Schwartz also worked in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He was a member of the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors and the American Abstract Artists. He has had solo retrospectives at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Providence Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum. His work has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Carnegie Institute, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum, among other institutions.


Manfred Schwartz: The Last Ten Years. Jan 17Feb. 24, 1974, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. Providence: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design (1974); M. Schwartz, Étretat: An Artist's Theme and Development (1965).

[Nancy Buchwald (2nd ed.)]

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Schwartz, Manfred

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