Abraham Hankins Biography

Abraham Hankins




Painter and printmaker Abraham P. Hankins was born in Gomel, Russia in 1904, into a poor family headed by a rabbi father. Noting his artistic talents, his parents sent him to the United States at age ten to live with cousins in Philadelphia, in the hopes that he would be able to gain a good education. His formal art education began at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as a teen, studying under Henry McCarter, and then at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art.

With the onset of World War I Hankins lied about his age to enlist in the American military, serving in France. After his company was gassed by the Germans, he was sent back to the U.S. when it was found that his lungs were greatly damaged. As part of his rehabilitation, he was given singing lessons; coincidentally, he proved to be a talented tenor and was encouraged to return to Paris to pursue a career as a singer. However, despite his interest in music and his talent, he eventually enrolled in painting and printmaking courses at the Académie Julian which proved to set his course toward art once again. After completion of studies at the Academy and private lessons with M. de Montholon, Hankins returned to Philadelphia and resumed his studies at the PAFA and the Museum School, and attended the Barnes Foundation. He would eventually teach at both PAFA and the Barnes Foundation, as well.

Hankins exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the New York World's Fair; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Print Club, the Allentown Museum, the Grand Salon in Paris, and more.

He died in Miami Beach, Florida in 1963 at the age of 59.

Works by Hankins are in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, Texas; the Barnes Foundation; the Philadelphia Public Library and the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the private collection of Dr. Albert C. Barnes of the Barnes Foundation, and his papers are at the Archives of American Art.