Costume design in pen and ink and wash of women in Greek dress, from the front and the back. The design is loosely rendered in a trompe-l’oeil style, as if pinned to the wall along with a sketch of an antique head and another scrap of paper with the artist’s initials and date.
Eugene Berman was a painter as well as a set and costume designer. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, his family fled to Paris during the Russian Revolution, and he studied art in France, Germany and Switzerland. He was aligned with the French Neo-Romantic movement, which included Pavel Tchletichew, painting figures among imaginary landscapes and architectural environments. Although the environments he created in his paintings were surreal, they were based on careful study of Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
Berman’s first United States exhibition took place at the Julian Levy Gallery in New York in 1929, and he continued to show there until 1947. In 1935, he emigrated to the U.S., settling first in New York and later in Los Angeles, eventually becoming an American citizen. From 1937 to 1955, he designed sets and costumes for ballet and opera companies including the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, American Ballet Caravan, and, most notably, the Metropolitan Opera. He received two Guggenheim Fellowships in the late 1940s, which he used to travel to Mexico and the American Southwest. Berman exhibited widely in American and European museums during the 1950s and ’60s, and retired to Rome in 1957, where he died in 1972. His works are in dozens of art museum collections, including the Smithsonian, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum and the Wadsworth Atheneum.
Dedicated and dated at top: “À Louis et Lilian Ende avec mes meilleurs voeux N.Y. Jan 1941.”
“Eugene G. Berman.” Askart.com. 2000-2011. http://www.askart.com/AskART/artists/biography.aspx?artist=20739 (18 March 2011).
Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Who Was Who in American Art. Madison, Connecticut: Sound View Press, 1985. p. 50.