1990 — Richard Lethem, Sigmund Abeles
University of Southern Maine
Sigmund Abeles (1990)
Born in 1934 in Brooklyn, New York, Sigmund Abeles grew up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. As a young man, he spent countless days sketching and drawing the sculpture in nearby Brookgreen Gardens before leaving the low country to attend the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Following graduation in 1955 from USC with a B.A. in Fine Arts, Abeles studied at the Art Students League of New York in NYC, the Skowhegan School in Maine and received a Masters in Fine Arts from Columbia University in 1957. Coastal Carolina University presented Abeles with an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts.
Much of Abeles’ career has been spent in academic settings teaching at such schools such as Wellesley College, Swain School of Design in Massachusetts, Boston University, the University of New Hampshire and the Art Students League of New York. His studio is in New York City where he has lived since 1994. Abeles' work and teaching are focused on an intense and empathetic investigation of the human figure and how it relates to our times. First and foremost, he believes an artist needs to be able to draw well, from life as well as memory and imagination, in order to communicate what he sees, senses, and dreams about, and to create convincing visual expression.
Abeles' work, mainly figurative, has been critically acclaimed and he has been a member of the prestigious National Academy since 1990. Some of his awards are: National Institute of Fine Arts & Letters Award, National Council of Arts & Humanities Sabbatical Grant, and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant for Graphics. His works are in permanent collections of leading institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art.
Five are presented here in the USM Art Gallery, of seven drawings in the USM collection usually hung in the 7th floor of the Law Building in the Portland campus. A few of the drawings are portraits of students and faculty at USM when Mr. Abeles, the Visiting Artist-in-Residence. See if you can recognize some of the people portrayed.