Minna Citron Biography

Minna Citron




Minna Citron, painter, printmaker, muralist, and teacher, was born in Newark, New Jersey on 15 October 1896. In 1924, she began studying painting under Benjamin Kopman at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. She then studied for three years at the New York School of Applied Design for Women graduating with honors. In 1928 she enrolled at Art Students' League where her primary mentor was Kenneth Hayes Miller, the leader of what was often called “the 14th Street School,” home to such artists as Reginald Marsh, Edward Laning, Rafael Soyer, and Isabel Bishop.

Like many of her fellow 14th-Street artists during the 1930s, Citron painted numerous scenes of Union Square where she had her studio. Citron tended to observe humanity and society with a humorous eye; satire being her favorite mode of expression. Femininities (1935), one of her first solo exhibitions, was typical of her witty style as she depicted women in unflattering situations. Beauty Culture, for example, mocks the vanity of beauty parlor patrons, who seem virtually imprisoned by their hair-dryers.

With the growth of government-sponsored art in the late 1930s, Citron's artistic interests evolved from satire to social awareness. Employed by the Work Projects Administration Federal Art Project in New York City, she taught painting from 1935 to 1937, and between 1938 and 1942 she traveled to Tennessee, enthusiastically creating Tennessee Valley Authority murals at the Newport and Manchester post offices. She also painted a series of Tennessee Valley scenes, which she exhibited at Manhattan’s Midtown Galleries.

Citron was drawn to printmaking in the early 1940s after seeing the works of Stanley William Hayter, whose Atelier 17 had been forced to relocate from Paris to New York City. Citron took advantage of the freedom at the Atelier 17, learning new techniques and embarking upon her own innovations. She combined the deliberate with the accidental happily exploiting the opportunity a broken etching plate provided to recreate a design.

Citron was a member of and exhibited with the Boston Printmakers, the Society of Washington Printmakers, the American Color Print Society, and the Society of American Graphic Artists. She was the recipient of a Yaddo Fellowship in 1947 and Edward C. MacDowell Fellowships in 1955 and 1959.

Minna Citron’s work is represented in the collections of the Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, Athens; the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas; the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Jewish Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

On her ninetieth birthday Citron was honored at Rutgers University's Douglass College Library. The celebration, a part of the library's 'Women Artists Series', included a retrospective of Citron's work. "Models of Persistence" was the show's theme, which the ebullient Citron epitomized as she continued to create and display works of art into her nineties.

Minna Citron died in New York City on 23 December 1991, at the age of ninety-five.