Artist Biography

John R. Grabach

(1886 - 1981)

Table of Contents

    John R. Grabach was an active member of the New Jersey art community during the twentieth century, and experienced great success as an artist, teacher, and author. He demonstrated an early interest in art while growing up in Newark, New Jersey, and became a member of the Newark Sketch Club as a teenager. His artistic training continued at the Art Students League in New York, where he studied under George Bridgman, Frank Vincent Dumond, and Kenyon Cox.

    During the 1920s, urban life in New York and Newark provided an endless source of inspiration for the artist; his earliest works were powerful, Ashcan-style scenes that demonstrated an impressive ability to transform ordinary events into captivating scenes of American life. After the stock market crashed in 1929, Grabach’s approach shifted away from the vibrant, colorful depictions of bustling city life and began to reflect the realities of the Great Depression.

    From the 1920s through the 1960s, his work was included in many important exhibitions, including The Art Institute of Chicago, Carnegie Institute, National Academy of Design, and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In 1980, the Smithsonian American Art Museum honored his successful career with a solo retrospective show of his work. Today, pieces from his oeuvre are included in the permanent collections of prestigious museums and institutions that include The Art Institute of Chicago, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Newark Museum, Norton Museum of Art, and Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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