Sigmund Abeles lives and works in New York City, and is one of the foremost figurative artists in the United States. Having studied at the University of South Carolina, Abeles began his career around 1954 as a painter, yet soon turned to the graphic arts, focusing on drawings, prints, and, slightly later, pastels. A recent exhibition catalogue justly describes Abeles as a draughtsman par excellence, and his ‘love of drawing as the foundation of his art’. Characterised by a distinct style and an often-noted technical mastery of the graphic media, Abeles’ work centres upon the close observation of the human figure, often shown in its domestic setting. In recent years, the artist embarked on the making of large pastels, which allow him to fully exploit every aspect of this fragile medium. Some of these works are characterised by a lightness of the palette and virtuosity in the handling of the pastel chalks that mark a new phase in the artist’s stylistic development.
The number of solo and group exhibitions of works by Sigmund Abeles is countless, notable are the comprehensive show at the New England College Gallery, Henniker (New Hampshire), and the recent exhibition of Abeles’ prints (including a catalogue raisonné), held at the Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston (Maine), in 1999. Works by Abeles are preserved in numerous public and private collections in and outside the United States, such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts, San Francisco, and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven.