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Jason Berger

BIOGRAPHY

1924-2010

One of Boston’s most beloved modern artists, Jason Berger (1924-2010) expressed his joyful outlook on life throughout his stylistic evolution.  Raised in Malden, MA by first-generation Jewish immigrants from Russia and Lithuania, Berger took advantage of his proximity to Boston’s cultural resources from a young age, spending hours at the Museum of Fine Arts and the Boston Public Library. He describes exploring the Newbury Street galleries where “there were many artists doing plein air painting at that time - and a lot of Boston watercolors”. Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent were two of the region’s most celebrated and represented artists; Berger was particularly influenced by their watercolor landscapes. And so, as a thirteen-year old, he started his career painting outdoors, often painting with friends Jack Kramer and Reed Kay. These three were offered scholarships, along with Arthur Polonsky, for an art program for high-school students at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This served as an important introduction; Berger and those childhood friends earned scholarships to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1941. 


The leading teacher at the SMFA during this time was the German immigrant Karl Zerbe.  A contemporary of Hyman Bloom and Jack Levine, who were also from the Jewish European immigrant community in Boston -  Zerbe influenced a generation of SMFA students with his figurative expressionism. Zerbe, Bloom, and Levine started the Boston Expressionist movement, largely adopted by Zerbe’s acolytes. Berger was one such admirer. However, his studies were interrupted by World War I, and he served in Europe until 1946. When he returned to complete his studies at the Museum School, he met and later married fellow student Marilyn Powers in 1947.

At a time when most American artists were embracing abstraction with gusto, Jason Berger focused on representational painting, along with a group of contemporaries now known as the Boston Expressionists. Yet Berger eschewed the moody and pensive tones favored by many Boston Expressionists and instead became known for bright, vibrant, and playful canvases that reflected his personality and penchant for painting en plein air.

Berger was awarded the Museum School’s European Traveling Fellowship, and traveled to France with his wife after graduation in 1949. His first stop was Normandy, to absorb the landscapes of Claude Monet, and then on to Paris to study with the cubist sculptor Ossip Zadkine. While in France, Berger viewed numerous exhibitions and was able to meet both George Braque and Henri Matisse. With assistance from the G.I. Bill, the Berger’s were able to stay in Europe for three years. While many have felt a “European” influence in his art, Berger insisted that the “sense of motion in my paintings is a very American kind of thing.”

When the Berger’s returned to the States, Jason embarked upon his influential career as a teacher. Over three decades of teaching art, primarily at his alma mater, the SMFA, and at the Art Institute of Boston, Berger encouraged students to “Always tell the visual truth.”

Teaching allowed him the freedom to not only continue his own painting, but to also travel each summer. Except for two years preceding the early death of his wife Marilyn in 1976, Berger spent summers in painting en plein air in France, Mexico, Portugal or Spain. Following Marilyn’s death, he returned to Portugal where he met Estela Cuoto who became his second wife in 1978. From then on, his summers were spent in Normandy, or other parts of Europe and Portugal where he and Estela relocated in 1994. Upon Estela’s unfortunate death in 1997, Berger remained in Portugal where he eventually married the painter, and former student, Leena Rekola in 1999. The couple moved back to the United States in March 2008 due to Jason’s poor health.

Upon his death in 2010, Berger’s work had been exhibited in museums nationwide, including the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; Art Institute, Chicago, IL; Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA; DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA; Fitchburg Museum of Art, Fitchburg, MA; Museum of Modern Art, NYC; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; Worcester Museum of Art, Worcester, MA. He has also exhibited widely in France, Mexico and Portugal.

Berger’s work can be found in numerous private collections, as well as in the permanent collections of many institutions which include: Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA; and Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA.

EDUCATION
The Boston Museum School, 1949
University of Alabama, 1943 – 44
Ossip Zadkine (Atelier in Paris), 1950 - 52

TEACHING
1983-1986 The Art Institute of Boston, Summer School in Normandy
1973-1988 Art Institute of Boston
1971-1972 Boston University
1969-1970 State University of New York at Buffalo
1957-1959 Wellesley College
1956-1969 The Boston Museum School
1955 Mt. Holyoke College

HONORS
Katz, Lois, "The Paintings of Jason Berger"
Phar Na International, Inc., Toyko, Japan, 1998
Monograph with c. 150 color reproductions to be published under the aegis of The Sackler Foundation Video: Jason Berger at the Edge of the World. Directed by Howard Posner. 43 minutes. Shown at Boston University, College of Communication, June 23, 1993; Boston Museum of Fine Arts, October 3, 1993; aired of WGBH, May 31, 1994.
Interviewed and archived by Art Archives of America, Smithsonian Institution, 1979 - 80; 1994 Who's Who in America, 1977 - present
Member of the Bicentennial Task Force Boston 200, Boston, Massachusetts, 1975
Direct Vision Catalogue funded by Massachusetts Council on Arts and Humanities, 1973
Who's Who in American Art, 1970 - present
Art New England Feb-March, 2009

AWARDS
1983 The Copley Society at Boston City Hall, Boston, Massachusetts
1970 State University of New York at Buffalo, Faculty Research Fellowship
1961, 1955 Boston Arts Festival, Boston Massachusetts
1957 The Boston Museum School, Clarissa Bartlett Traveling Scholarship
1949 The Boston Museum School, Paige Traveling Scholarship for Study Abroad Festival -- Grand Prize, awarded by Jacques Lipchitz, 1955

COLLECTIONS
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Boston Sheraton, Boston Massachusetts
Chase National Bank, New York, NY
Smith College, Northampton, MA
Rose Art Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Rockefeller Medical Center, New York, NY
The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Simmons College, Boston, MA
Numerous other public and private collections

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2009 The Art Store, Selected Works, Charleston, WV
2008 Danforth Museum, Directed Vision, Framingham, MA
2008 Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts, Jason Berger, New Castle, PA
2007 Arqué Galeria de Arte, Jason Berger Revisited, Lisboa, Portugal
2006 University of New England, DIRECT VISION PAINTINGS, Maine
2006 Jameson Modern, The Color of Life, Portland, ME
2005 ARQUE, Galeria de Arte, Direct Vision,, Lisbon, Portugal
2005 Direct Vision, Arque Galeria de Arte, Lisboa, Portugal
2005 Galerie Katia Granoff, Honfleur, France
2004 Tapper-Popermajer, Malmo, Sweden
2004 Maison-Henri, Normandy, France
2000 Maison Henri IV/Saint Valery en Caux, JASON BERGER: RECENT PAINTINGS, Normandy, France
1994 Mercury Gallery, JASON BERGER: FIFTY YEARS OF PAINTING, Boston, MA
1991 Mayans Galleries, Santa Fe, NM
1990 Art Communication International (Art Com'In), Rouen, France
1988, 1990 Alon Gallery, Jason Berger, Brookline, MA
1987 The Art Store, Charleston, WV
1986 Simmons College, The Trustman Art Gallery, Boston, MA
1982 Field Branch Library, PAINTING OF PORTUGAL, Cambridge, MA
1981 Galeria Jornal de Noticias, Oporta, Portugal
1979 Christian Herter Center, NEW PAINTINGS FROM PORTUGAL, Boston, MA
1979 MacIvor Reddie Gallery, JASON BERGER/ 37 years of printmaking, Boston, MA
1977 ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS & SPORTS, Ferragudo, Algarve, Portugal
1976 Brookline Town Hall, HOMAGE TO REVERE BEACH, Brookline, MA
1971 Helen Bumpus Gallery, Duxbury, MA
1967 Nashua Art Center. Nashua, NH
1962, 1972 Joan Peterson Gallery, Boston, MA
1961 Pace Gallery, Boston, MA
1960 Gallery 10, DRAWINGS, Boston, MA
1960 Nova Gallery, Boston, MA
1958, 1957, 1956 Peridot Gallery, New York, NY
1956, 1952 Swetzoff Gallery, Boston, MA
1955 Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA
1954 Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, MA
1950 Institute of Modern Art, Boston, MA

GROUP SHOWS
2017, The Boston Accent: 140 Years of The Museum School, Childs Gallery, Boston
2016, Palm Beach Show 2016, Childs Gallery, Boston
2016, The Boston Expressionists, Cavalier Galleries, New York
2008, Small Works, The Art Store, Charleston, WV
Best of Summer, The Art Store, Charleston, WV
2006 Three Artists, Three Generations, Palacio de Galeria, Tavira, Portugal
2004 The Visionary Decade : New Voices in Art in 1940’s Boston, Boston University Art Gallery, Boston, MA
1991 Wingspread Gallery, Northeast Harbor, Maine
1990 Wingspread Gallery, Northeast Harbor, Maine
1989 Wingspread Gallery, Northeast Harbor, Maine
1988 Museum School Faculty Exhibition,
1980- 1988, Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA
1987 Joseph Ablow, Jason Berger: Boston Colorists, Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA
1986 Expressionism in Boston: 1945- 1985, DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA
1985 Southeastern Massachussetts University, North Dartmouth, MA
Boston Arts Festival, Boston, MA
1983 Visconti Gallery, Boston, MA
The Copley Masters Exhibition, Federal Reserve Bank, Boston, MA
Wingspread Gallery, Northeast Harbor, Maine
1982 Wingspread Gallery, Northeast Harbor, Maine
1980 A Centennial Exhibition, Copley Society, Boston, MA
1978 The Direct Vision, Phoenix Gallery, Concord, NH
1977 355 Gallery, Boston, MA
Paintings of Portugal, (In conjunction with Festival of Portugal and Spain) Sheraton- Boston Hotel, Boston, MA
The Direct Vision, Boston City Hall, Boston, MA
1976 The Direct Vision, Walters Gallery, Regis College, Weston, MA
The Direct Vision, The Academy of the Arts, Easton, MD
The Direct Vision, Hilles Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
The Direct Vision, MacIvor Reddie Gallery, Boston, MA
1975 The Direct Vision Paints Boston, State House, Doric Hall, Boston, MA. Funded by Mass Council on Arts and Humanities
The Direct Vision: 14 Days in May, Boston City Hall, Boston, MA
Paysages Francaises, Bibliotheque Francaise, Boston, MA
The Direct Vision: Exhibition and Symposium, St. Paul's School Concord, NH
1974 The Direct Vision, New Hampton School, Hampton, NH
The Direct Vision, Point Gallery, Kittery Point, Maine
The Direct Vision: 100 Paintings, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA
1973 Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA
The Direct Vision, Boston City Hall, Boston, MA
The Direct Vision, MacIvor Reddie Gallery, Boston, MA
1972 Direct Vision Show, Boston City Hall, Boston, MA
1969 Museo de Artes Populares, Patzcuaro, Mexico
Providence Art Festival, Providence, RI
1967 Joan Peterson Gallery, Boston, MA
1962 Pennsylvania Academy, Philadelphia, PA
Smith College, Northampton, MA
Institute of Contemporary Art (Dana Collection), Boston, MA
1961 Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA (travelling exhibition, auspices of AFA)
Boston Arts Festival, Boston, MA
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA
1956 Recent Drawings U.S.A., Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA
1955 Collector's Show, Dallas, TX
Silvermine Art Show, Mystic, CT
Carnegie Institute International, Pittsburgh, PA
1954 Young Printmakers, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Carnegie Institute International, Pittsburgh, PA
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA (travelling exhibition, auspices of AFA)
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
1953 Boston Independent Artists, Boston, MA
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Tufts University, Medford, MA
Brandeis University. Waltham, MA
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA (travelling exhibition, auspices of AFA)
1952 Boston Arts Festival, Boston, MA
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA
Salon de la Jeune Sculpture, Musée Rodin, Paris, France
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
1950 Galerie Le Grip, Rouen, France
1949 Swetzoff Gallery, Boston, MA. Exhibited through 1957.
1947 Berkshire Museum, Springfield, MA
1943 Institute of Modern Art, Boston, MA