Artist Aaron Bohrod (1907-1992)

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ARTIST AARON BOHROD (1907 – 1992)
By Victoria Chick, contemporary figurative artist and early 19th & 20th Century Print Collector

 

Victoria Chick, contemporary figurative artist and early 19th / 20th century print collector, discusses the life and work of artist Aaron Bohrod (1907-1992), on Big Blend Radio.

When you discover things in retrospect it can be surprising, amazing, and often times humbling because you can’t believe you missed it earlier. This is exactly how I felt about Aaron Bohrod when I bought one of his prints a few years ago.

I first read his name in a short art review while an art major in college in 1964.  Fifty three years later, I was now a print collector attracted to a lithograph on eBay. It was by Aaron Bohrod. The name was vaguely familiar. I bid on the print and won!  When I received the print, “Reflections in a Shop Window,” I did what I do with all the prints I acquire, and researched the artist. By the time I became a print collector I had studied a lot of art history and had taught art history and art appreciation classes; so I had developed a habit of mentally placing each print in its historical context, and trying to see how each piece related to what art came before and after it.

Aaron Bohrod was interesting to me because he combined the influences of several trends of early 20th century visual art, as well as Dutch 17th century Vanitas painting. Historians classify his art as Urban Realism. His work was also placed in the category of Social Realism, primarily, I think, because one of his instructors at the Art Students League had been John Sloan, a prominent Social Realist painter. But most of his work seems more personal and introspective to me, than the typical Social Realist art that depicts classes of people. Being from Chicago and New York, city settings were an obvious subject as it was the type of environment Bohrod saw every day. Although he did travel, many paintings of buildings in small towns and rural locations still reflect his attachment  to an  architectural environment.

 

As in Georgio DeChirico’s Surrealist paintings of deserted or near deserted streets of the 1920s, Aaron Bohrod’s urban scenes are often void of human figures or have a solitary figure or two small figures creating a mood rather than a Social Realist statement. Additionally, Surrealism also seems to have influenced him as many of his artworks produce their effect through a dreamlike juxtaposition of objects. His paintings reflecting his experience in WWII, express a somewhat dark remembrance through arrangements of Trompe l’oeil painted photos and war souvenirs. He later expanded this type of work to include humorous objects that expressed his own sense of wittiness and his enjoyment of double meanings.

Bohrod’s ability to render visual texture was highly developed, with reflective surfaces being his forte. In this interest, he was a harbinger of the Photo Realists. But Photo Realists had technology in the form of slide projectors to help them compose large canvases, and their subjects were modern and shiny. Bohrod often painted worn surfaces and objects such as old toys, that had a warm human association. Bohrod was primarily a painter whose palette tended toward earth colors. He also did a number of lithographs where the range of tonal contrasts – black through white – was suited to his interest in carefully constructed realist drawing.

Aaron Bohrod was 57 years old when I first became aware of him. By that time, his accomplishments were many. He had been an artist for the Corps of Engineers in the Pacific Theatre of WW II, later a war correspondent, had done murals for three post offices in Illinois, at the recommendation of Grant Wood, replaced John Steuart Curry as Artist in Residence at the University of Wisconsin, was elected to membership in the National Academy of Design, had won numerous awards in National Art shows, and had works in the permanent collections of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Baltimore Museum of Art, Walker Art Center, Cranbrook  Academy, Art Institute of Chicago, and others. In 1992, the Wisconsin State Legislature voted to honor his memory by naming the Art Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley after Aaron Bohrod.

He continued to teach until the mid-1970s and to make art until his later years. Aaron Bohrod passed away at age 95.


Victoria Chick is the founder of the Cow Trail Art Studio in southwest New Mexico. She received a B.A. in Art from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and awarded an M.F.A. in Painting from Kent State University in Ohio. Visit her website at www.ArtistVictoriaChick.com

 

Artist Victoria Chick

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About the Author:

Victoria Chick is the founder of the Cow Trail Art Studio in southwest New Mexico. She received a B.A. in Art from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and awarded an M.F.A. in Painting from Kent State University in Ohio.

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