Albert Urban Biography

Albert Urban




Albert Urban, painter, sculptor, printmaker, and teacher was born in Frankfurt, Germany on 22 July 1909. He studied at the Kunstschule in Frankfurt, Germany with Max Beckmann and Willi Baumeister. After graduation, he was hired as an assistant instructor at the academy. With Hitler's rise to power, Urban was one of many artists whose work was condemned by the Nazis. His work was confiscated and included in the Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich in 1937. After he was forbidden to paint and exiled, he fled to London before moving permanently to New York in 1940.

Once ensconced in his new surroundings, Urban returned to painting and between 1941 and 1948 he had five solo exhibitions in New York and Philadelphia. A critic for Art News in 1946 responded to his work by claiming him to be "a painter's painter, whose brilliant color, vibrant forms, swiftly spontaneous design, and general technical inventiveness must win the respect of all informed scholars of painting."

With the idea of making his work affordable to the general public, Urban began working with the medium of serigraphy in 1942. He produced a number of small four and five color screenprints and he and his wife, Reva, opened Gallery Urban at 16 West Tenth Street in New York. He continued to work in serigraphy into the 1950s. Nineteen of his screenprints, produced between 1944 and 1946, are listed in "The Early History of the Screenprint" by Reba and Dave Williams as published in the Print Quarterly in December 1986.

Between 1948 and 1958, Urban became something of a recluse and refused to share the products of his studio with anyone. A solo exhibition of his work was mounted at the Zabriskie Gallery in 1958. His work was included in numerous exhibitions in the 1940s and he is represented in the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Frederick R. Wesiman Art Museum, and the Worcester Art Museum.

Albert Urban died in New York on 4 April 1959.



Sources: David Acton: A Spectrum of Innovation Color in American Printmaking, and Reba and Dave Williams "The Early History of the Screenprint."