Thursday, January 25, 2007
The lost art of Harry Bernstein
The drawing above was made by my Grandpa Harry, perhaps 90 years ago. I never knew my grandpa. I was just an infant when he died in 1957. This picture hung in Granny's house until her Alzheimer's disease put her into a care facility. In the subsequent breakdown and liquidation of her household, my parents got custody of the drawing. There was also a thick portfolio of other drawings by Grandpa which had surfaced briefly. I swear I remember seeing it once. Then it disappeared again into obscurity for about 20 years, as family members eventually lost track of who had possession of it.
Grandpa Harry's portfolio was finally found again at the end of last year. It was fun to see all his old works. Many of the figure drawings are dated from 1917, and bear a resemblance to the kinds of life-drawing sketches I did in college. My favorites were his botanical drawings and a few very old sketches of what appear to be scenes from his childhood. (The latter are dated 1911. ) The drawings are, almost without exception, exceedingly fragile, having been made on newsprint and other modest papers, and stored for many decades in conditions that probably did not enhance their preservation.
My mom urged me to take home whatever I wanted, but I have no place to put them, so I took pictures of everything that caught my interest. I have been trying to restore them in Photoshop. I will post what I can over time.