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Woodmere Art Museum presents first retrospective of pioneering painter Theresa Bernstein
Theresa Bernstein, Verdi’s Requiem, 1930, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 in. Private Collection.
PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Woodmere Art Museum presents Theresa Bernstein: A Century in Art, the first retrospective exhibition dedicated to the work of Theresa Bernstein (1890–2002). A Century in Art features more than fifty paintings and works on paper from an artist whose life and career spanned the century, and returns an erased woman artist to the public eye, prompting new scholarship on this pioneering figure in American art.

Organized by Gail Levin, Distinguished Professor of Art History, American Studies and Women’s Studies at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, the exhibition is on view July 26 through October 26 (open house Saturday, September 13, 4 to 6 p.m., Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118).

Bernstein’s dramatic paintings chronicled twentieth-century American life from the perspective of her experience as both a woman artist and a person of the Jewish faith. Her expressive realism and penetrating depictions of urban life included formerly overlooked subjects like immigrants, suffragettes and readers in the public library as well as images of parks, music halls and wartime rallies. Bernstein achieved recognition early in her career, exhibiting regularly with the Ashcan painters. She was praised for “painting like a man,” a remark that demonstrates the gender biases she faced. In both her life and her paintings, prints and drawings, Bernstein reveals the major issues of her time.

Born in 1890 in Cracow, Poland, Bernstein immigrated with her parents to the United States and settled in Philadelphia when she was one year old. She later attended the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art & Design) and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and under noted Philadelphia artist Daniel Garber. In 1912, Bernstein moved with her parents to New York City where she lived the rest of her life. She exhibited with Robert Henri, John Sloan and other members of the Ashcan School and at many institutions and galleries throughout her career. Bernstein died in 2002, two weeks before her 112th birthday.

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