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Untitled, 1948

Untitled, 1948

Milton Resnick (1917 – 2004)

A painter, especially noted for Abstract Expressionism, Milton Resnick once wrote: . . “art need not be more than a serious but wanton game of leap-frog and that newism is not its goal.” (Herskovic, 282).

Milton Resnick was born in Russia, and arrived in New York City in 1922 at age five. He settled in Brooklyn with his family and attended public school where a teacher re-named him from his birth name of Rachmiel and nickname of Milya to Milton. At age 14, he enrolled in the commercial art program at the Pratt Institute Evening School of Art in Brooklyn, but a teacher there suggested he switch to fine arts, so the next year he enrolled in the American Artists School in New York City. Ad Reinhardt, future Abstract Expressionist, was a classmate, and they shared a budding interest in abstraction.


However, Resnick’s father forbid any expression from his son of wanting to be an artist and faced with this disapproval of his commitment to painting, Resnick moved out of the family home in 1934 when he was 17. He supported himself as an elevator boy and continued at the American Artists School, where he was given a small studio room and each day provided with materials left behind by students attending night classes.

During the Depression Resnick was in the Easel and Mural Division of the WPA of the Works Progress Administration. By 1938, he had his own studio on West 21st Street, and there was near Willem de Kooning with whom he formed a close friendship in the 1960s. However, Resnick’s art career was interrupted by World War II, and he served five years in the Army, stationed in Iceland and Europe. After the War, he lived for three years in Paris, where among others, he associated with modernist sculptors Alberto Giacometti and Constantin Brancusi.

In 1948, Milton Resnick returned to New York, and used his G.I. benefits to enroll in abstract expressionist painter Hans Hofmann’s school. He also took a studio on East 8th Street, near Jackson Pollock, de Kooning, and Franz Kline, and in September met artist Pat Passlof, whom he married in 1961.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Resnick earned respect for his Abstract Expressionist paintings and also was unique for being one of the few New York artists to have a large working space for large-scale canvases. In 1976, he purchased the space that served him to the end of his active career, an abandoned synagogue on Eldridge Street on New York’s lower east side. It was near his wife’s studio, which was another abandoned synagogue and purchased by the couple in 1963.

During his career, Resnick was also an art educator, who taught at Pratt Institute and New York University beginning 1964.

Sources include:
A World of Art Biographical Sketches
Marika Herskovic, Editor, American Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

Biography from the Archives of AskART


Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH
Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
The Art Museum, Princeton University, Princetown, NJ
Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia
Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Calcutta, India
Carlson Gallery, University of Bridgeport College of Fine Arts, Bridgeport, CT
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
College Union Collection, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC
Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN
The Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York University, New York
Hampton University Museum, Hampton University, Hampton, VA
Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, HI
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Jonson Gallery, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Madison Art Center, Madison, WI
Malmö Konsthall, Stockhom, Sweden
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Gallery, Ottawa, Canada
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell, NM
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
University of Nebraska; Lincoln/Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, Lincoln, NE
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
University Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California, Berkeley, CA
University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IO
Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH