Walkowitz, Abraham

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WALKOWITZ, ABRAHAM (1878–1965), U.S. painter. Walkowitz, who was born in Tumen, Russia, was taken as a boy to New York, where he lived on the Lower East Side. Jacob *Epstein was a neighbor and close friend. He eked out a living by lettering diplomas and shingles for doctors' offices. By 1906 he had saved enough to study for two years in Paris. When he returned to New York and showed his paintings in a basement storeroom, they were dismissed by most of the critics as "monstrosities." In 1913 Walkowitz was invited to exhibit ten works in the historic Armory Show in New York. One of his earliest backers was Alfred *Stieglitz, the art dealer. As the public grew used to the anti-academic manner of the new painters, he began to be a success, and his paintings were acquired by leading American museums. Walkowitz drew and painted assiduously until the 1930s, when failing eyesight made it difficult for him to work, and by the mid-1940s he stopped painting completely. As his own creative powers declined, he devoted his time to posing for colleagues, and in 1944 the Brooklyn Museum mounted an exhibition, "One Hundred Artists and Walkowitz" consisting of paintings and sculptures with himself as subject. Walkowitz' style ranges from Romanticism to abstract art. He began by painting dark, misty landscapes but changed in time to warmer and fresher colors. His subjects were confined mainly to outdoor scenes with figures, and for many years his favorite model was the dancer Isadora Duncan.


Savin, in: Arts Magazine, 39 (1964), 42–45.

[Alfred Werner]