Herman Cherry

Untitled #12

1959 

oil on rag paper
20.5 x 15.75 inches

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Herman Cherry was born in Atlantic City on April 10, 1909, and grew up in Philadelphia, where he studied art in a local settlement house. At the age of 15, he moved with his family to Los Angeles and dropped out of high school to work for 20th Century-Fox, designing blueprints for sets. Later, he studied with the noted painter Stanton Macdonald-Wright in Los Angeles.

In 1930, after working his way to Europe and back, he hitchhiked to New York City and studied at the Art Students League with Thomas Hart Benton. Back in Los Angeles by 1931, he set up a gallery at the Stanley Rose Bookstore, where he gave shows to Philip Guston, Reuben Kadish and Lorser Feitelson, among others. He had his own first solo show at the gallery in 1934.

In the 1930’s, Cherry also did murals under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration, a depression relief program. He was also a founder of the Artists’ union in Los Angeles. Cherry left the West Coast in 1945 and settled in Woodstock, N.Y. Two years later, he won acclaim with a show at the Weyhe Gallery in Manhattan of a series of wire, plastic and metal constructions he called Pictographs. In the 1950’s, his painting took a decisive step toward abstraction, and he showed at a number of New York galleries, including the Stable, the Poindexter and the Tanager.

In 1975, after a decade and a half of teaching art at various schools across the country, Cherry stopped painting and began to write poetry. The next year he published a book, “Poems of Pain and Other Matters.” But he was soon back at his easel, and in 1984 received an award for painting from the American Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1989 and 1990, he had a retrospective at Ball State university in Muncie, Ind.

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