Benzion Zuckerman

(1890 - 1944)


Benzion Zuckerman was born in 1935 in Kaunas. He completed the architecture program at Kaunas Polytechnic Institute in 1960. He was a member of the group „24“.
He entered Vilnius’ art life having organised two small yet significant solo exhibitions in 1976 and 1984. He started taking part in group shows soon after that. With a background in architecture, B. Zuckerman was one of the first artists to start consistently cultivating a reduced abstract language in opposition to the official Soviet art.
His works are owned by the Lithuanian Art Museum, M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum, Vilnius University Graphic Cabinet, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick (New Jersey, USA), and private collectors in Europe, Japan and the USA. In 2000 he received Lithuanian National Prize.


The artist’s first paintings were constructive geometrical compositions, but he soon developed a multi-layered, almost monochromatic tonal and tactile form of painting. B. Zuckerman’s work is both hermetic and universal. Most of artist's works are virtually two-dimensional. The relief of the thick coating of paint is sometimes further amplified by incorporated scraps of cardboard, patches of cardboard, bits of wire or lumps of tar. For many years by now, the artist’s paintings have been almost or fully monochromatic. He endows the dim red or achromatic matted grey, black and ochre of various hues with a subtle scheme of tonal gradients and texture.
As the artist turned seventy, his painting became more gestural and colourful. Yet even this heightened expression eventually remains restrained. The titles of the abstract paintings themselves reveal allusions to themes and states important to the artist. Many of them are related to architecture and archaeology, like those of the series Margins, Exposures, Zone and Reconstruction or individual works Cathedral and Crypt. B. Zuckerman explores such of his “territories” as a cracked or scratched wall touching them with his eyes. Some of the painting titles contain allusions to concrete locations, natural forces or mystical symbols.