Bernard Perlin (1918 - present)
The Divorce, c. 1960
Tempera on illustration board
24 1/2 x 18 inches
Signed at lower right: Perlin
Acquired from the Artist
[Sotheby’s, December 18, 1991, Lot 428]
Private Collection, California
True Magazine, 1966
Bernard Perlin was an American painter and illustrator born in Richmond, Virginia, of Russian-Jewish descent. In 1934 he moved to New York and studied at the New York School of Design 1934-6, the National Academy of Design Art School 1936-7 and the Art Students League under William C. Palmer 1937-8. In 1938 he won a Kosciuszko Foundation Scholarship for study in Poland.
Perlin worked from 1942-3 in the Office of War Information, Graphics Division in Washington, DC, with Ben Shahn. At the age of 25 he was thrust into the middle of the war as a result of having spent time in Cairo and meeting Larry Babcock of Fortune magazine. He served as a war correspondent for Life, covering the Middle East, 1943-4, and for Fortune, covering the Pacific and Orient. Fortune published his drawings of the B-29 bases in the Pacific as well as his impressions of Shanghai in post-war 1946.
Back in New York City in the 50s and 60s, he was pitted against the power structure of the Abstract Expressionists, refusing to adopt their style. However, his realism in his tempera paintings came to have elements of abstraction, especially in the backgrounds. He had a highly successful exhibit at Knoedler Gallery in 1948, followed by one-man shows at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art, and the Tate. From 1948 to 1953, he spent five years in Italy on a Fulbright Scholarship and for the first time began painting in oil. Upon his return to the United States he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and was featured in the Whitney's 1955 exhibition New Decade-35 American Painters and Sculptors.
He taught at Wooster Community Art Center in Danbury, Connecticut from 1967 to 1969. He has lived in Ridgefield, Connecticut since 1959.