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Ervin B. Nussbaum
Modernist American Judaica Painting Gaon and his Disciples

$2,600

About

In this painting, Nussbaum portrays a Rabbi, or Rebbe outside the synagogue The vibrant colors used in this painting seem to overlay each other without being previous mixed. Ervin B. Nussbaum was born in Columbus, Ohio on November 11, 1914. His father, Marger, had arrived as part of the great Russian Diaspora of the time, when many Jewish families settled in Ohio, particularly in the Columbus area. Nussbaum attended Ohio State University during the Great Depression and continued to live in Ohio until America’s involvement in World War II. His oil painting The End of John Brown, which depicts a fictionalization of the American abolitionist’s final hours, won first prize at the Central Ohio Competition in 1941. The piece then toured the country stopping at the San Francisco Museum, the Butler Art Institute, the Philadelphia Academy and the Corcoran Gallery. Donated in 2001, the painting is now part of the permanent collection at the Torrington Historical Society in Torrington, Connecticut, John Brown’s birthplace. When the war began, Ervin, along with some 40,000 other men of all faiths, became part of the conscientious objector program known as the Civil Public Service. He spent the years 1942 through 1946 interned in government camps from New Hampshire to Maryland, working in public services such as forestry and hurricane cleanup. Many other objectors housed alongside him were of artistic inclination and shared Nussbaum’s conviction of peace, so artistic pursuits were common within these camps. During these early years, his paintings followed a somewhat whimsical figurative style and leaned towards patriotic and Hebraic themes. In time, these themes began to take on an almost Cubist feel and eventually leaned toward complete abstraction. Upon his release from his voluntary conscription as a CPS, Nussbaum moved to New York where he frequently painted semi-abstract landscapes in the local parks, throughout the New England countryside, and at the shorelines. He especially enjoyed painting in the woodland tranquility of Inwood Park in northern Manhattan. He paid special attention to the park’s bird life, which would soon become a new favorite subject. Their graceful movement inspired his creation of a series of avian sculptures in wood, metal or mixed medias. In 1951, he met the dynamic young actress, playwright, musician, and graphic artist Muriel Leventhal. They married and moved to Norwalk, Connecticut in 1959. Nussbaum continued to work in a variety of media and showed regularly in many different galleries throughout Connecticut. His bronze sculpture Three Girls on a Flower was commissioned by the Trumbull Library and a wood bas-relief was created for the sanctuary at the Yonkers Temple Emanuel. Nussbaum would remain in Norwalk until his death in 1996. When contemplating the work of Ervin Nussbaum, we find the soul of a man set in principles of profound religious and patriotic convictions as well as a deep abiding love of nature. His art shows us the evolution of the man through the evolution of the styles he undertook during his lifetime; from figurative, to cubist, to complete abstraction; from oils, to charcoal, to a mixture of media. His works are left to us in museums across the United States, as well as in countless private collections in the U.S. and abroad.

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