In post World War II America, New York was emerging as the new center of the art world, and Abstract Expressionism was soon to be the primary source for new ideas in art. Artists like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko practiced an art that looked to the inner, emotional life of the artist for inspiration. Non-objective art became the focus of most of those concerned with contemporary art in the 1940s and 1950s.
In contrast to the happenings in New York and beyond, a small significant movement called Expressionism took hold in Boston, Massachusetts. Among those who are considered to be Boston Expressionists, Karl Zerbe, Hyman Bloom, Jack Levine and David Aronson stand out as the best of the early practitioners. Though differing in styles, they did share fundamental beliefs and practices. While incorporating abstract expressionist methods of paint application and other materials, the Boston Expressionists were also interested in presenting their thoughts about the external world of people, religion, business and politics filtered and intensified through their own internal world of emotion. They also maintained a strong awareness and connection to classical art. What they created was a new dynamic extending the elements of the New York School to include the human figure placed in narratives which powerfully expressed each artist’s view of human experience and the state of the human condition in mid-twentieth century America.
The exhibition Aronson to Aronson: The Lineage of Expressionism traces the lineage of the Boston Expressionist movement through the art of one prominent Boston artist family: David Aronson, the early Expressionist, his wife Georgianna Nyman Aronson, a prominent portrait painter, and their son Ben, also well-known painter who exhibits regularly in Boston, New York and San Francisco. Born in 1923, David was a young man when he first embraced the Expressionist movement. His early work shows a preoccupation with humanistic expressionism. Though much different in style and substance, Georgianna’s work shares the common element of the human figure, and Ben whose work for many years depicted birds’ eye views of New York City streets has recently turned to the all too human business of high finance, Wall Street and fine art auctions.
It is a pleasure to host Aronson to Aronson: The Lineage of Expressionism, the first exhibition of its kind, of such a prestigious family of artists. All three artists, accomplished individually, bring a wealth of beauty and accomplishment together for the first time. I would like to thank the entire staff of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art for their assistance in the completion of this project and the many other projects which comprise our season. I would also like to thank the Board of Directors for their unflagging support, and the Docents and Volunteers who inquire for answers and deliver outstanding service to our visitors.
Thank you to the Aronson family: David, Georgianna, Ben and Eileen for making the exhibition and catalog possible in so many ways. A special thank you to Martin and Estelle Karlin for their far-reaching assistance in the formulation of the exhibition.