Harold Persico Paris Biography

Harold Persico Paris




Harold Persico Paris was born in Long Island, New York on 6 August 1925. As a youth, Paris was allowed to work behind the scenes at the Yiddish theatre where his father was an actor, applying the makeup which transformed the actors. Creativity was inherent to his being and this early dramatic influence remained with the artist, showing up later in his costumes, his flair, his personality, and the personal drama, tension, and inventiveness of his media and his imagery.

Paris studied in America and Europe but remained an outsider, eschewing the art centers as well as the movements. He studied briefly at Atelier 17 and the Creative Lithographic Workshop in New York. Awarded the Louis Comfort Tiffany Fellowship, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Fulbright Fellowship, he applied these to realizing goals in graphics, painting and casting. Paris lived in Madrid while guest instructing at the Academia de San Fernando and in Munich while studying casting at the Akademie der Bildenden Künst.

As a correspondent for Stars and Stripes during World War II, Paris witnessed the death camps at Buchenwald. Profoundly affected, his personal torment underlies his imagery. There are Semitic references in his imagery and titles but the iconography is personal, unique, and defies categorization. He began his Buchenwald series of graphics in 1945. 

Paris moved to California between 1960-1961. At the age of thirty-five, he became an Assistant Professor of Art at the University of California Berkeley and was promoted to full Professor in 1972. During these seminal years he continued to explore the new medium of plastic and expand upon the use of ceramics by developing means to strengthen and support ceramic walls and rooms. He co-founded a bronze foundry in Berkeley and developed techniques of welding and casting, thought impossible by others. Ingenious, Harold Paris produced haunting imagery from diverse and innovative media. 

The work of Harold Paris is represented in the collections of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, Berkeley, California; the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; the Hammer Museum, UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Los Angeles;  the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Oakland Museum of California; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; and the Hirshhorn Museum, the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

Harold Paris died in El Cerrito, California on 1 July 1979 just as recognition of his art was being realized.