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Bernard Perlin, 95, of Ridgefield, died on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at his home. He was the husband of Edward Newell. Bernard Perlin was a celebrated artist with works in major museum collections. The son of Davis and Anna Perlin, Mr. Perlin was born on November 21, 1918 in Richmond, Virginia. Perlin studied at the New York School of Design, National Academy of Design, and the Art Students League in New York. Early artistic successes included a Kosciusko Foundation Award for study in Poland (1938) and two significant commissions: one from the U.S. Treasury Department for a mural for the South Orange, New Jersey Post Office (1939); the other from the U.S. Maritime Commission for murals for the SS President Hayes (1940). After designing popular propaganda posters for the U.S. Government during World War II, Perlin became a war artist-correspondent for Life and Fortune magazines, embedding with commando forces in occupied Greece and later covering the war in the South Pacific and Asia. He was aboard the USS Missouri for the official Japanese surrender in September 1945. He stayed on to document the war's aftermath in Japan and China. Returning to the United States, Perlin embarked on a series of "social realist" paintings, recording scenes of life on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He also became a successful illustrator for magazines such as Harper's and Collier's, continuing his relationship with those magazines as well as with Fortune well into the 1960s. Perlin lived and painted in Italy from 1948 until 1954 with the assistance of a Chaloner Foundation Award and a subsequent Guggenheim Fellowship. There, he began to move away from the social realism of his previous work and instead paint, in his words, "beautiful pictures": landscapes, still lifes, figures. He returned to New York to document the "cocktail culture" of the late 1950s, but in reaction to the rise of Abstract Expressionism, Perlin left the New York art scene for Connecticut in 1959. There, he continued his work as a figurative painter, although in switching from tempera to oil in the mid-1950s, his own work became increasingly more abstract. He continued to paint up until his final illness. Aside from many illustrious private collections, Bernard Perlin's art is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Ashmolean Museum; Columbus Museum of Art; Detroit Institute of Arts; de Young Museum, San Francisco; Museum of Modern Art; National Academy Museum; National Portrait Gallery; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Princeton University Art Museum; Smith College Museum of Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum; Tate Modern, London; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In addition to his partner of fifty-seven years, Mr. Perlin is survived by a niece, Janice Barson-Ryone; great-nephew Kenneth Klein and great-niece Allison Klein-Kruter, and close friends Edward Insull, Carl Bailey, Lauren Dalton, and Michael Schreiber.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Danbury Grassroots Tennis and Enrichment Program, PO Box 2912, Danbury, CT 06813. Kane Funeral Home, 25 Catoonah St., Ridgefield is in charge of arrangements
Published in News Times on Jan. 17, 2014
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