Bernard Reder Biography

Bernard Reder




Sculptor, painter, printmaker, and architect Bernard Reder was born in Czernowitz, Bukovina in 1897. At age seventeen he was conscripted into the Austrian army during World War I, where he fought in the trenches. At the end of the war he traveled to Prague to enroll in the Academy of Fine Arts, studying sculpture and painting. To support his family, he took a job carving cemetary tombstones and monuments. 

In 1930 Reder, who was Jewish, permanently moved to Prague due to the anti-Semitic sentiment growing in his rural town. In 1935 he held his first color exhibition of his sculptures at the gallery of Manes, an artist's association, to critical acclaim. His success led him to Paris in 1937 where he befriended Aristide Maillol, a friendship that proved crucial for Reder's survival when, two years later, he was forced to flee the Nazi invasion of France through Maillol's contacts. Reder first went to Spain, where he and his wife were arrested for illegal entry; once they were let go, they managed to find passage to Cuba, where they remained until 1943. In the meantime, German bombs destroyed his studio and all of the work within it. 

Reder continued to work as well as teach while living in Havana. In 1945 he found an opportunity to relocate to New York City. For two years exhibited until an illness partially paralyzed him. His ability to work in sculpture was nearly obliterated and he spent more time focusing on woodcuts and drawings while recovering. He became an American citizen in 1948. 

In 1949 Reder exhibited at the 3rd Sculpture International in Philadelphia and held his first show at the Whitney Museum, where he would become a regular exhibitor. from 1954 to 1956 he traveled and worked thoughout Rome and Florence, and was given a colo exhibition at the Galleria d'Arte Moderno LIndiano, capturing the attention of art historian John Rewald. In 1961 the Whitney held its first retrospective, in its history, devoting three of its floors to Reder. 

The last four years of his life were highly productive, and Reder produces over thirty-five bronze sculptures. He died in New York in 1963.

Reder's work is held in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Museum of Modern Art, NY; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C; the Brooklyn Museum; the New York Public Library; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museu d'Arte Moderna, Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Hofstra University, among others.