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Benjamin Kopman (1887 - 1965)

Lot 87: Benjamin Kopman, New York, New Jersey / Russian Federation. (1887-1966), Self Portrait, 1964, watercolor wash on paper, 12 3/4" x 9 5/8", 15 5/8" x 12 5/8" (frame)

Ripley Auctions

December 17, 2022
Indianapolis, IN, US

More About this Item


Description

Benjamin Kopman
New York, New Jersey / Russian Federation., (1887-1966)
Self Portrait, 1964
watercolor wash on paper
EX: Friends of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Inc, NY

Biography from the Archives of askART: Benjamin Kopman (1887-1966)

Vitebsk, the birth place of Benjamin Kopman, was one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe in 1900 with a Jewish population of 34,420. It was a center of religious Judaism with a strong Habad presence, but also had a very active Zionist community.

Unlike many Russian communities, Vitebsk did not experience pogroms around the turn of the 20th century. Thus, when 16 year old Benjamin Kopman and his family emigrated to the United States in 1903, it was likely for economic gain rather than religious freedom.

In New York Kopman was tutored by Abel Pan, who had studied at the Yehdua Penn's Vitebsk Academy. In 1905 Kopman enrolled at the National Academy of Art where he remained for 6 semesters. In 1913 Kopman became a US citizen and he lived on East 14th Street in Manhattan during and after WWI. His first prestigious exhibition was at the annual exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1914.

"Kopman participated in exhibitions sponsored by the People's Art Guild from 1915 to 1917 held at settlement houses and neighborhood centers in Manhattan and the Bronx… He also exhibited with Jennings Tofel and Claude Buck as part of the Introspective group of painters… In 1925 Kopman and Tofel founded the Jewish Art center which held exhibitions for two seasons in the East Village."[1]

Kopman worked for the WPA as an artist during the Depression. He enjoyed solo exhibitions at the New Art Circle in 1937, ACA Galleries in 1945, Phillips Memorial gallery in Washington D.C. in the same year, and several others venues in future years.

Kopman most likely had a Jewish education in Vitebsk, as "his intense mysticism and emotionality have their source in the Kabbalah."[1]

In his use of heavy black outlines and often primitive style Kopman suggest the influence of Henri Rousseau and Georges Roualt. Critic, Henry McBride, commented in a review of Kopman's work s at the Carnegie Institute, "I'd rather have Mr. Kopman's picture any day than the work by Roualt in the neighboring French room."[7]

A recurrent theme in exhibitions and from Kopman himself is the contradiction between Kopman's outstanding skills and relatively limited recognition.

"But in the annals of painting, the case of Benjamin Kopman is probably unique. Three times in his long career - in the Thirties - in the Forties and in the Fifties - he has been hailed by discriminating critics as a painter of major dimensions… Why, then, did he not achieve the popularity he deserves?"[7] Selden Rodman concludes that Kopman was a retiring individual who did not promote himself. Even in 1941 this same characterization was apt. "Shy and retiring by nature he shuns the outer world, spending sixteen to twenty hours of the day painting or writing verse [in Yiddish]… His long years of toil have yielded little more than the barest necessities."[8]

In 1958 Kopman himself wrote, in an apparent defense against abstract expressionism, "Because we live in an age of speed, some people who never cared for art turned away from my work using the excuse that it has not moved fast enough. They do not realize that the very speed they so admire will fly by them, and they will remain wondering what has happened."[9]

Kopman married his wife, Feiga, around 1927. She was the sister of fellow artist and Introspective member, Claude Buck. In 1930 they were living at 207 East 19th Street in Manhattan with no children. Both Benjamin and Feiga are described as "artists" in census data. Feiga died in 1964.

Kopman's work is held in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and many others.

Dimensions

12 3/4" x 9 5/8", 15 5/8" x 12 5/8" (frame)

Artist or Maker

Benjamin Kopman

Medium

watercolor wash on paper

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Most items in our auction are estate consigned. All items should be considered "as-is". We make every effort to accurately describe each lot using complete descriptions and detailed photographs. You may email or call us with any questions prior to bidding. All sizes, weights and ages of lots are approximate. We encourage you to visit and inspect all lots during preview and/or carefully examine all additional images provided with the online catalog and ask for more information, when needed. It is your responsibility to know what you are bidding on prior to placing any bids. Please note that any lot listed with "attributed" or "style" cannot be guaranteed to be the work of the noted artist or period. All sales are final.

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Credit Card Payments

You must provide a verified credit card for bidder registration. Ripely Auctions does not not have access to your credit card information when you register on line. Your card will NOT be automatically charged after the auction. You may authorize the credit card of your choice after you have received your invoice. Please call with questions prior to bidding. 317-251-5635

Payment Information

Payments are accepted by Cash, Check, Money Order, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, AMEX and Bank Wire Transfer. CC payments of more than $5k may require advance approval. Gold jewelry will require confirmed funds. The full purchase price plus all applicable taxes and fees is expected before removal or shipping of any of the items. Guaranteed payment may be required for removal of goods for new or out of town buyers.

Shipping Information

Professional in house shipping services are available for items. Shipping costs will include carrier fees, handling, and insurance. A low bid purchase price does not mean shipping costs will be any less. The size and weight of a package will impact the cost that the carrier charges. Multiple items will impact the cost of handling. Items that are of high value will require more insurance. Contact Ripley Auctions if you would like a shipping estimate before the auction. Some items may require a third-party shipper. Please let the office know if you would like to pick up your winning bid or arrange your own shipping.

Buyer's Premium

A buyer's premium of 25% will be added to all lots.

Condition Statement

Most items in our auction are estate consigned. All items should be considered "as-is". We make every effort to accurately describe each lot using complete descriptions and detailed photographs. You may email or call us with any questions prior to bidding. All sizes, weights and ages of lots are approximate. We encourage you to visit and inspect all lots during preview and/or carefully examine all additional images provided with onlne catalog and ask for more information, when needed. It is your responsibility to know what you are bidding on prior to placing any bids. Please note that any lot listed with "attributed" or "style" cannot be guaranteed to be the work of the noted artist or period. All sales are final.

Indiana Sales Tax

Indiana residents pay 7% sales tax on all purchases unless you have a retail sales certificate issued by the State of Indiana. We need the number on file at the time of payment to exempt your from sales tax. Items picked up from our gallery may be subject to IN sales tax. If you have any questions, contact us.