Sarai Sherman

Sarai Sherman (1922 – 2013) was a Pennsylvania-born Jewish American, significant twentieth century artist whose abstract paintings, prints and ceramics help shaped views of women artists in America and Europe. Sherman was born in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1922. She showed an early predisposition towards painting and was enrolled into an arts and graphics program around the age of 10. These early years began to shape her artistic interests in people, nature and the built environment. She attended Kensington High School and continued to explore artistic themes and painting. She attended the Tyler School of Art at Temple University headed at the time by Russian born artist Boris Blai with faculty including Earl Horter and Honga Holm. Sherman graduating with a Bachelors of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Science degrees in education and then enrolled into the Masters of Arts program at the University of Iowa, Iowa City graduating with a degree in art history and painting. Sherman moved to New York City to pursue art. During this period she designed fabrics and wallpaper that were sold though stores in Philadelphia and New York. During WWII Sherman lived in Eagle Pass, Texas where her husband was stationed with the 45th Massachusetts Regiment. Sherman was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and spent two years in Italy before returning to New York. Sherman was represented by the ACA Galleries in New York thought-out the 1950s and then by the Forum Gallery. Sherman has had numerous significant solo exhibitions throughout the United Sites and in Europe including the ACA Galley, New York City (1951, 1955, 1958, 1960); Galleria La Nuova Pesa, Rome (1961), and Galleria Viotti, Turin (1963) – both in Italy; Forum Gallery, New York City (1963, 1967, 1970, 1974, 1986); Fairweather-Hardin Gallery, Chicago Illinois (1964); Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje, Yugoslavia (1965); Galerie Weltz, Salzburg, Austria and Salon Tribune Mladih, Novi Sad, Yugoslavia (1966); Galleria dell’Orso, Milan (1973), and Studio 5, Bologna (1976) – both in Italy; Madison Gallery, Toronto Canada (1976); Galleria Giulia, Rome, Italy (1982). Her abstracted figurative paintings took a step beyond realism as she interpreted the political social contexts around her including uprisings and turmoil she was seeing in Italy and the United States. The graphic composition of her paintings are softened though washes of muted color. Sherman has won numerous awards and prizes for her work including: a Pepsi Cola award (1945); Fulbright Foundation fellowship to Italy (1952-1954); a painting award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York City (1964) and their Childe Hassam Prize (1970); in addition to many medals, citations and prizes in exhibitions throughout Italy; and the Proctor Prize, National Academy of Design, New York City (1976). Her work focused on concerns with humankind’s inhumanity to one another, where form and content are one. Her sculptural work of the 1980s, in porcelain, presents serene animal and human forms for one to contemplate, metaphors for peace and war, life and death. Between 1987 and 1992 Sherman worked on a private commission in Cortona, Italy, creating paintings, sculpture and architectural trompe l’oeil for a centuries-old family chapel. Sherman’s work is included in numerous private and public permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Whitney Museum of Art, Syracuse University, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome, and the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Jerusalem Museum, Israel; National Gallery of Modern Art, Bratislava, Czechoslovakia; International Museum of Modern Art, Skopje, Yugoslavia; Gramsci Museum, Ghilarza, Sardinia. Sherman died in New York City on October 24, 2013.