GROSS, CHAIM. (1902-1991). Austrian-born, American artist and pedagogue. Signed drawing. (“Chaim Gross”). 1p. Narrow 8vo. N.p., March 17, 1990. A sketch in black ink depicting a standing woman signed and dated on the lower margin.

Following the upheaval of the First World War that turned his family into refugees, Gross emigrated from Austrian Galicia to Budapest, where he studied at the art academy before anti-Semitic policies led to his deportation. After a brief return to Vienna, Gross immigrated to the United States to study at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, Art Students League of New York and the Educational Alliance Art School. In 1926, he began a 50-year career as a teacher at the latter institution; among his students was the influential American sculptor Louise Nevelson. Gross influenced the art world through his teaching posts at the New School, the Brooklyn Museum Art School, MoMA Art School, Art Students League, and the New Art School. Although recognition of his work came slowly, during the 1920s and 30s Gross exhibited his prints and carved sculptures, influenced by the woodworkers of his native Carpathian Mountains, throughout the United States. In 1933 he joined the Public Works Administration, creating public artworks and conducting demonstrations.

The 1950s found Gross working in bronze as well as wood and stone. His influential book The Techniques of Wood Sculpture was published in 1957 and his artistic contributions were recognized by numerous honors and awards during the 1970s and 1980s. Gross founded and served as the first president of the Sculptors Guild. After his death, poet Allen Ginsberg recalled: “An inveterate draughtsman throughout his life, from earliest days of exile to his last days here in New York, he filled countless sketchbooks and hundreds of sheets with accomplished pencil, pen and ink, ink, and wash studies—on nature, studies of the human form, ‘fantasy drawings’ (a collection of these appeared in book form under that title in 1956), unmediated examinations of his own psyche, dark in the early years and increasingly lyrical, erotic & surrealist in character as he finally revealed his own nature. A major retrospective of his work at the Jewish Museum in 1977 showed his astonishing versatility & fecundity, and in his remaining fourteen years he kept on working,” (“Chaim Gross: 1904-1991,” Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Ginsberg).

His works include Birds of Peace commissioned for Hebrew University, The Ten Commandments, at the International Synagogue at JFK Airport and such figural sculptures as Tightrope Dancer, Circus Girls, Jazz, Happy Mother, Mother Playing, and Two Acrobats.

Penned the year before his death and in excellent condition. [indexJudaica]

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