Abel Warshawsky (1883 – 1962)
A Cleveland Impressionist landscape painter, Abel Warshawsky left Cleveland for New York in 1905 and then spent some years in Paris as an expatriate. In 1910, he returned to Cleveland where he taught art with William Sommer and exhibited paintings continuously through the 1940s.
He was born on December 28, 1883, in Sharon, Pennsylvania, though he grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He studied with Louis Rorimer at the Cleveland Art Institute, with additional work at the Art Students League, and the National Academy of Design, the latter two institutions in New York City, where Warshawsky went in 1905. The artist traveled to Paris in 1908, where he met Amedeo Modigliani, Paul Signac and Auguste Renoir, as well as American artists Winslow Homer, Leon Kroll, Hugo Robus and William Zorach. Though he returned to Cleveland in 1910, where he was a member of the Cincinnati Art Club and taught with William Sommer, he maintained a studio in Paris for thirty years, and was quite active in the art world there. He traveled often through France and Italy, returning on a yearly basis to the United States to sell his work, exhibiting from the 1910s to the 1950s.
With the death of his first wife, and war threatening in the 1930s, Warshawsky left Europe, building a studio in Monterrey, California, teaching classes, painting portraits, and figures against the backdrop of the Northern California coastline. Warshawsky, a member and president of the Carmel Art Association, was a painting partner and friend of California artist Sidney Sargent Freeman.
Warshawsky painted portraits of John W. (Jack) Raper, 1870-1950, a columnist for “The Cleveland Press” in 1940, and his brother David, 1893-1989, in 1944 in Taxco, Mexico, which are in the collection of the City Club of Cleveland. The latter was a gift to the collection by the sitter’s son and his wife, David and Lee Warshawsky. Abel Warshawsky’s younger brother, Alexander L. Warshawsky, 1887-1945, was also a painter.
Abel Warshawsky has five paintings in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, as well as work in the Minneapolis Art Institute, Minnesota; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; and the Luxembourg Museum, Paris, France.
The 1920 portrait of his wife, titled “Paris Unconquered,” is set against a background vista of that city. The painting served as the frontispiece of his book of the same title, published in 1957. “Memories of an American Impressionist”, a book about Abel G. Warshawsky, edited by Ben L. Bassham, was published by Kent State University Press, in 1980. Nancy Dustin Wall Moure’s article, “Abel Warshawsky,” appeared in Art of California, in September 1990. His work was part of the exhibition, in 2002, “The Many Faces of Cleveland: A Century of Portraiture”, at the Cleveland Artists Foundation.
Abel Warshawsky died in 1962.
His papers from 1930-1960 are in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. They include a manuscript of the artist’s unpublished autobiography, “My Brush With Life,” as well as typescripts of two versions of Warshawksy’s autobiography, “The Autobiography,” and “Adventures with Color and Brush,” which is a revision of the former, ending in 1941. Letters to his second wife, Ruth; six albums of photographs of artwork; sketchbooks and miscellaneous other materials are also included.
Biography from the Archives of AskART