Oral history interview with Ben-Zion interview, 1982 August 3-September 21
Neumann, J. B. (Jsrael Ber)
Gallery Secession (New York, N.Y.)
Jewish Museum (New York, N.Y.)
Mark Rothko and His Times Oral History Project
Place of publication, production, or execution:
New York (State)
Transcript: 56 pages
Originally recorded on 3 sound cassettes. Reformated in 2010 as 6 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 5 min.
Access Note / Rights:
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
An interview of Ben-Zion conducted 1982 August 3-1982 September 21, by Barbara Shikler, for the Archives of American Art's Mark Rothko and His Times oral history project.
Ben-Zion speaks of his family's background in Ukraine and Poland and their arrival in the United States after the death of his father. He remembers working as a writer for a Hebrew newspaper in the Bronx, the writing block he suffered in reaction to Nazi atrocities in Europe, and his turn to art with the patronage of J. B. Neumann. He recalls exhibiting with The Ten, meeting Mark Rothko through the Gallery Secession, and the rift that developed among members of The Ten. He describes his own commercial success, the influence of Jewish tradition upon his choices of subject matter, and his relationship with the Jewish Museum in New York. He discusses a period in which he stopped painting and returned to writing, and his later interest in sculpture. He speaks of his writings and his work habits.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Ben-Zion interview, 1982 August 3-September 21. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Transcript available on line.
Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Ben-Zion (1897-1987) was a painter and sculptor from New York, N.Y.
This interview was conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's Mark Rothko and his Times oral history project, with funding provided by the Mark Rothko Foundation. Others interviewed on the project (by various interviewers) include: Sonia Allen, Sally Avery, Bernard Braddon, Ernest Briggs, Rhys Caparn, Elaine de Kooning, Herbert Ferber, Esther Gottlieb, Juliette Hays, Sidney Janis, Buffie Johnson, Jacob Kainen, Louis Kaufman, Jack Kufeld, Katharine Kuh, Stanley Kunitz, Joseph Liss, Dorothy Miller, Betty Parsons, Wallace Putnam, Rebecca Reis, Maurice Roth, Sidney Schectman, Aaron Siskind, Joseph Solman, Hedda Sterne, Jack Tworkov, Esteban Vicente and Ed Weinstein. Each has been cataloged separately.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001