From www.artdaily.com Sept 2008
BOSTON.- The Boston Athenæum presents “Albert Wein: American Modernist,” the first museum retrospective of the sculptor’s work. The exhibition opens on Sept. 17 and runs through Nov. 29, 2008, in The Boston Athenæum’s Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery.
Sculptor Albert Wein (1915-1991) had both a keen interest in the human figure and an awareness of and appreciation for modernist concepts, specifically abstraction. Today, scholars are taking a closer look at artists such as Wein, who sought to balance the legacies of the past with the excitement of the future. This exhibition will be the first museum retrospective of Wein’s work and is being held on the occasion of the publication of the first major monograph on the artist’s life and work.
According to exhibition curator and art historian David Dearinger, “Scholarship and the market are now in the process of rediscovering those American sculptors who came of age during the 1930s and ’40s. Many of these men and women were trained in the traditional aesthetics of Classicism – they initially worked in the Art Deco movement, gained experience through WPA projects, and ultimately helped bring Modernism to America. Albert Wein was one of these artists, and it is exciting for us to collaborate with the artist’s estate in presenting this, the first major exhibition of Wein’s work.”
Albert Wein was the only son of artist Elsa Wein. Her early influence had a profound effect on the creative course that he would take. When Albert was 12, Elsa enrolled herself and her son in classes at the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts, a major art school that adhered to the academic traditions of Classicism that would continue to have an impact on Wein’s work throughout his career. He once said that the main thrust of his work was “to modernize and stylize the classical tradition.”
Wein also matriculated at the influential Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York. In the 1930s, he worked for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and in 1946 won the Prix de Rome, a distinguished award that allowed him to study at Rome’s American Academy. In Europe, Wein was inspired by the classical art of Italy, and the work of his contemporaries, both European and American.
In 1955 Wein moved to California where — besides creating sculpture for numerous churches, synagogues, and private collectors — he drew upon his experience of New York theater. He designed sets for television productions and was art director for the Ernie Kovacs Show. He experimented with a wide range of media and explored figurative abstraction in both his sculpture and painting.
In the late 1950s and 60s, Wein followed the trend toward abstraction but returned to figurative work in the 1970s. At that time he received the commission for the major commemorative sculpture for the new Libby Dam in Montana (1973), the largest granite relief in the United States. The commission prompted Wein to return to the East Coast, where his family eventually settled in Westchester County, New York.
During his long career, Wein received most major American awards given for sculpture. In 1989 he was awarded a residency fellowship to the Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy. In late 1990 he completed a major commemorative medal for Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina. It proved to be his last major work. Albert Wein died of cancer in 1991.