Edith Bry Biography

Edith Bry





Edith Bry, painter, printmaker, assemblage and mosaic artist, was born 30 November 1889 to Louis and Melanie Bry in St. Louis, Missouri. Her family relocated to New York City around 1906, where Louis Bry opened a successful clothing manufacturing company with a relative. The success of the company allowed her family to travel to Europe before the outbreak of World War I. Visits to museums in Paris and Madrid inspired Edith to pursue art and she began teaching herself how to draw by copying the postcards she brought home.

After graduating from high school in 1917, Bry studied for two years at the Art Students League in New York. Her instructors included Alexander Archipenko, J. Alden Weir, Winold Reiss, Charles Locke, and Guy Pène du Bois. With the end of World War I, she traveled to Germany and studied briefly with Hermann Struck and Siegfried Laboschin. On her return to the U.S., she continued her studies with private lessons from Abe Rattner.

In 1927 Bry had a solo show of abstractions and portraits in a gallery in Corsicana, Texas, and the following year two of her works were included in a show at the Opportunity Gallery in the Art Center in New York. She married Maurice Benjamin in 1929 and they had one son, who they named Bry Benjamin. Together with architect Ely Jacques Kahn, Edith helped design an Art Deco-style apartment which is considered one of the best-preserved examples of the style on the east coast. She joined the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors in 1934, and in 1935 she held a solo exhibition of drawings at the National Association's Argent Galleries to critical acclaim.

As the Second World War approached, Bry was involved in organizing fundraisers for overseas relief efforts and, in 1938, she spearheaded the sale of 130 donated works of art to help European Jews escape Nazi Germany. Her lithograph Exiled was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1940. Despite criticism by the Los Angeles Times as to its "grim" nature, the work was met with praise. Bry joined the artists' advocacy group, the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, in 1941 and continued to exhibit throughout the war while also volunteering her time teaching art to war-wounded soldiers and painting realistic irises for artificial eyes.

After the war Bry became less focused on representation and more on capturing emotion, creating landscapes drenched in light and color and working in new mediums such as fused glass, enamel, and collage. She traveled globally, visiting Mexico, Central and South America, Spain, and the African continent. In the 1960s and '70s she focused on fused glass religious pieces.

Bry was a member of and exhibited with the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, and the Studio Guild of New York. She was included in the 1940-41 Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her work was also exhibited at the Opportunity Gallery, the G.R.D. Gallery, the Argent Galleries, and the Grant Gallery, all in New York.

Edith Bry’s work is represented in the Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, Athens; the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana; the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public LIbraray, New York; the Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee; and the Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

In 1983, a retrospective of Edith Bry’s work was mounted at the Loeb Student Art Center in New York. She continued to live and work in New York until her death on 19 January 1991.