During my freshman year at Carnegie, most of the male student body took the introduction to military training (ROTC) instead of gym, and at the end of the school year, in June 1943, we all met at Fort Meade, Maryland. After being interviewed, all of my friends were assigned to the Signal Corps. On instinct, I had taken a copy of the June 16, 1941 issue of Life magazine with me, and I showed it to the officer who interviewed me. He seemed impressed, but I was assigned to the Infantry rather than the Signal Corps, packed into a very crowded train, and sent to Fort McClellan, Alabama, where four months of violent physical activity, training in a very hot, sun-blinding summer, transformed me from a pudgy, non-athletic person into a surprisingly muscular GI.
~ A War and Two Paintings, Philip Pearlstein
Betty Cuningham Gallery is pleased to open a special exhibition of Philip Pearlstein’s works on paper, which record the emotional and physical realities of life as a G.I. in an infantry replacement unit during WWII. The artist will be present for an opening reception on Wednesday, September 14th from 6-8 PM.
Philip Pearlstein, in his WWII memoir, claims that his art skills saved his life. Before he was drafted, Pearlstein was awarded first and second prize in the National Scholastic High School Art Contest for two paintings that were subsequently featured in the July 16, 1941 issue of Life magazine. This issue not only confirmed his art talent but also kept him from the frontlines during the War.
The exhibition includes about 100 sketches and watercolors (dating from 1943 – 46) that record Pearlstein’s complete experience of WWII: basic training at Camp Blanding, a ship convoy to Italy, as well as his time stationed in Italy during and after fighting. Also included are signs and charts made by Pearlstein in the visual-aids shop. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, A War and Two Paintings.
Pearlstein’s work can be seen in a host of prestigious collections, most notably: The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
Philip Pearlstein was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1924. He received a BFA from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1949 and an MA from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1955. That same year he had his first solo show at Tanager Gallery. Throughout his career, he has held posts as teacher and critic at various institutions, including Pratt Institute, Yale University, and Brooklyn College. From 2003 – 2006, Pearlstein served as the President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives and works in New York City.
The exhibition will remain on view in SIDECAR through October 15, 2016