Monday, March 7, 2016

Vibrant Works by two Prominent New England Painters, Jason Berger & Jerome Myers

Jason Berger Boatyard, Edam, Holland
oil on canvas, 31 x 39 in. 

Cavalier Galleries is pleased to present a group of works by Jason Berger as part of our exhibit of The Boston Expressionists now on view in our New York gallery. One of Boston’s most beloved modern artists, Jason Berger (1924-2010) expressed his joyful outlook on life throughout his stylistic evolution. 

Raised in Malden, MA by first-generation Jewish immigrants from Russia and Lithuania, Berger took advantage of his proximity to Boston’s cultural resources from a young age, spending hours at the Museum of Fine Arts and the Boston Public Library. He describes exploring the Newbury Street galleries where “there were many artists doing plein air painting at that time…and a lot of Boston watercolors”. Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent were two of the region’s most celebrated and represented artists; Berger was particularly influenced by their watercolor landscapes. 

In 1947, after World War II most American artists were embracing abstraction with gusto, Jason Berger focused on representational painting, along with a group of contemporaries now known as the Boston Expressionists. Yet Berger eschewed the moody and pensive tones favored by many Boston Expressionists and instead became known for bright, vibrant, and playful canvases that reflected his personality and penchant for painting en plein air. 

Berger was awarded the Museum School’s European Traveling Fellowship, and traveled to France with his wife after graduation in 1949. His first stop was Normandy, to absorb the landscapes of Claude Monet, and then on to Paris to study with the cubist sculptor Ossip Zadkine. While in France, Berger viewed numerous exhibitions and was able to meet both George Braque and Henri Matisse. With assistance from the G.I. Bill, the Bergers were able to stay in Europe for three years. While many have felt a “European” influence in his art, Berger insisted that the “sense of motion in my paintings is a very American kind of thing.”

Upon his death in 2010, Berger’s work had been exhibited in museums nationwide, including the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; Art Institute, Chicago, IL; Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA; DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA; Fitchburg Museum of Art, Fitchburg, MA; Museum of Modern Art, NYC; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; Worcester Museum of Art, Worcester, MA. He has also exhibited widely in France, Mexico and Portugal. Berger’s work can be found in numerous private collections, as well as in the permanent collections of many institutions which include: Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA; and Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA.

Jerome Myers West 68th Street Park (NYC)
oil on canvas, 12 x 16 in.

West 68th Street Park (NYC) currently on view in our Greenwich gallery, is one of the few known representations of the original 1930s West 68th Street Central Park playground designed by Robert Moses, the master builder of twentieth-century New York City. This playground was rebuilt as Adventure Playground in 1967, and Tots Playground was added to this in 1989.

Born in Petersburg, Virginia in 1867, Myers lived in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Orleans before he established residence in New York City in 1886. Within a year, he had enrolled in his first formal art courses at Cooper Union and, shortly thereafter, the Art Students' League, where he studied with George de Forest Brush and Kenyon Cox, both competent and learned academicians. However valuable the technical training and discipline, the young artist questioned the highly structured, conservative nature of these institutions. According to Myers, his instructors frowned upon his interest in city life. "Brush did not believe in doing the crowd," he wrote, "but to me the importance of group life became a guiding star." Responding to this impulse, Myers set out to interpret the life of the city for himself: "If ever I was to create beauty I know that it would not be by imitating the classical Greeks of Michelangelo but by expressing what was in me, as they had expressed themselves."

 Jerome Myers is best known for his paintings of New York City life during the opening decades of the twentieth century. Described as "the gentle poet of the slums," Myers found beauty and a poetic grandeur in the simple, ordinary life of the common man. He was, in fact, one of the first artists to explore and subsequently paint the life of the urban poor in this country. Myers firmly adhered to this philosophy and painted canvases that revealed his deep and abiding respect for the unpretentious life of the masses. While pioneering new thematic materials in American art, Myers also actively participated in several progressive art organizations that helped encourage and develop new directions in American art. He was, for example, one of the four original founders of the 1913 Armory show, considered to be the most significant art exhibition ever held in this country.

 Jerome Myers had his first one-person show at the Macbeth Gallery in 1908 and exhibited nationally throughout his lifetime. He received many awards, including ones at the National Academy of Design and at the Carnegie Institute, and had several important museum purchases, the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired a painting in 1912. In 1929, he was elected to the National Academy.Myers died in New York in 1940.


Contact the gallery for additional information about these works: 
art@cavaliergalleries.com or 212.570.4696