Biography

b. 1924 

The first of Pearlstein's many honors were the first and third prizes he received in Scholastic Magazine's 14th National High School Art Exhibition in 1941; Reginald Marsh was a member of this awards jury. Upon graduation from high school in 1942, he enrolled in the Carnegie Institute of Technology, but the draft limited his attendance to one year. After discharge from the army in 1946 he returned to the Carnegie, where he studied with Robert Lepper, Balcomb Green and Samuel Rosenberg, and received his BFA degree in 1949. He then immediately moved to New York, and obtained work as a graphic designer, involved in production of catalogues of plumbing fixtures, which provided financial support for the next eight years. In 1950 he began graduate studies at New York University's Institute of Fine Art.  Two years later his paintings were shown in a group exhibition at the Tanager Gallery, an artist's cooperative;  in 1954 Clement Greenberg selected his work for a group show at the Kootz Gallery, New York, titled Emerging Talent; and in 1955 - the same year he received his Masters degree from the NYU Institute - Pearlstein's first one-man exhibition was presented at the Tanager Gallery.
In 1958 Pearlstein was awarded a Fulbright grant, which supported a year of travel and painting abroad, passed mostly in Italy.  In September 1960, a one-man exhibition of his paintings and drawings was held at the Allan Frumkin Gallery in Chicago, following by another at Frumkin's New York gallery in the spring of 1961, beginning a long association with that Gallery. 
Through the late 1950s Pearlstein's paintings had focused primarily on landscape, rendered with an emphasis on abstract patterning. In about 1962, however, he turned attention to the classical subject of the studio-posed nude, and began producing the extended series of paintings with which he is most identified: models shown singly or in pairs, at intentionally unsettling angles, often truncated, and always with extreme objectivity of realism.

Pearlstein is a frequent contributor to major art journals of analytical articles on contemporary art. He also has been a dedicated teacher throughout his career: at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, 1959-63;  visiting artist and lecturer at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, summers of in 1965 and 1967;  and member of the resident faculty, Boston University summer program, Tanglewood, Massachusetts, 1969;  and his primary teaching affiliation, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.  He joined the Brooklyn College faculty in 1963 as an assistant professor, and was appointed a distinguished professor in 1977.
Among Pearlstein's honors are a National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1968;  a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, 1969;  and election to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1982.  Honorary Doctorates received at:  Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, 1983;  Brooklyn College, Brooklyn;  College of Art & Design, Detroit;  New York Academy of Arts, New York; Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, Old Lyme.
In 1988 he was elected Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY.  In 2004 he received The Benjamin West Clinedinst Memorial Medal, The Artists Fellowship, Inc., New York,  and in 2005 The Adolph & Clara Obrig Prize, The National Academy, New York.  In 2008 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award, National Academy, New York, and the Scholastic Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.  In 2010 he was awarded Artist of the Year, American Friends of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, New York.
Pearlstein also works extensively in drawing, lithography, etching, and watercolor. He resides in New York, where he is represented by the Betty Cuningham Gallery, New York.

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