Bernard Gussow (1881-1957)

Bernard Gussow (1881-1957). Oil on masonite panel measures 16 x 20 inches; 24 x 28 inches in a chestnut frame of the period. An African-American man stands with his back turned toward the viewer, and his presence clearly indicates that this is a New York City setting. Only the lunch counters of large unbar cities of the time were integrated. Excellent condition with no damage or restoration. Signed lower right.



Birth place: Russia

Death place: NYC

Addresses: Newark, NJ; NYC

Profession: Painter, lithographer, teacher

Studied: CCNY; ASL; NAD; …cole des Beaux-Arts, Paris; with Bonnét.

Exhibited: Armory Show, 1913; S. Indp. A., 1917-34; Luxembourg Mus., Paris, 1919; AIC, 1926, 1930-32; WMAA, 1927-36; Salons of Am., 1931; PAFA, 1932; Rockefeller Center, 1937; WFNY 1939; NGA, 1938; LOC, 1944-46; CI, 1944; New Jersey AA

Member: AEA; Am. Artists Congress; Art Lg. Am.

Work: WMAA; Newark Mus.; Barnes Fnd.; MoMA; LACMA; U.S. Marine Hospital, LA; mural, USPO, East Rochester, NY

Comments: Teaching: Newark (NJ) School Fine & Indust. Art, 1912-.

Sources: WW59; WW47; Brown, The Story of the Armory Show; Falk, Exh. Record Series.

Russian-born Gussow (born 2 January 1881) was trained at both the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design; in addition he studied under Bonnat at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His first claim to fame seems to have been exhibiting two works at the Armory Show in 1913 (Movement and Figures). Gussow exhibited at the Society of Independent Artists between 1917 and 1934 and at Salons of America in the 1930s. By the mid 1930s Gussow stopped exhibiting but was as regular as clockwork up until then. By that time, he had moved from abstract compositions to recognizable urban subjects. The Whitney Museum of American Art, for example, has his Subway Stairs. The Barnes Foundation and the Museum of Modern Art also have his paintings. Gussow even participated in the Federal Art Project, contributing a post office mural (Recreation Hours) in East Rochester, NY.  The figures in this painting might owe something to his contemporary Max Weber, who used similar simplified, mask-like faces. Or he may have gone directly to the Blue Rider Group or German Expressionists such as Franz Marc or Erich Heckel who were interested in “primitive” figures in landscapes. Weber also painted similar gently curving, cylindrical trees.