Reuben Kadish Biography

Reuben Kadish




Reuben Kadish, painter, muralist, printmaker, and sculptor, was born in Chicago, Illinois on 29 January 1913. His father was a decorative painter who specialized in marbling and faux-bois painting for interiors. HIs family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1921 and Kadish began private art lessons with Lorser Feitelson.

In 1930, he enrolled in the Otis Art Institute, studying alongside fellow student Phillip Goldstein [later Philip Guston]. Kadish won a studio scholarship to the Stickney School of Art in Pasadena for 1931. Politically vocal, Kadish’s pluck caught the attention of Jackson Pollock that same year and they became close friends. Together they explored the ethnographic treasures in the Los Angeles County Museum that would greatly influence Kadish’s work.

Kadish stated that he and Goldstein were invited by Siqueiros to come down to Mexico and paint murals. The two artists traveled to Mexico in 1935 and painted a fresco at the University of Michoacán in Morelia. Upon its completion, Siqueiros proclaimed, “It is my honest belief that Phillip Goldstein and Reuben Kadish are the most promising young painters in either the U.S. or Mexico.”

In 1936, Kadish moved to San Francisco and Goldstein moved to New York and changed his name to Philip Guston. Kadish joined the mural painting division of the FAP/WPA and his most important contribution was his fresco, A Dissertation on Alchemy, at the San Francisco State College Science Hall. That same year Kadish and Guston became active members of the American Artists Congress in response to the spread of fascism. In 1940, Kadish studied intaglio printmaking with Stanley William Hayter at the California School of Fine Arts.

Kadish was recruited into the U.S. Army artists unit and dispatched to India and Burma and, as a war correspondent, he recorded in drawing the horrors that war brings upon a culture. Upon his discharge in 1945, Kadish moved to New York where he worked as a printer at Hayter’s Atelier 17. He made his own prints but in 1946 he dropped out of the art world and settled on a farm in New Jersey and became a dairy farmer. After five years he began working in clay and sculpture. He returned to New York and studied at the Brooklyn Museum School and taught at Cooper Union. An invitation to work at Tamarind in Los Angeles was the impetus for Kadish's return to printmaking in 1961.

Reuben Kadish is represented in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; the Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University, Logan; the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum, University of California Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas; the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, California; the Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri; the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts.

Reuben Kadish died in New York City on 20 September 20 1992.