Sunday, September 25, 2005

Abe Rattner - An Introduction

"The principal thing is to see America."
-- Abraham Rattner, graciously, to Henry Miller, upon learning that the publishers of The Air-Conditioned Nightmare had rejected the idea of including Rattner's artwork in the book (1940).

The Jewish-American artist Abraham Rattner accompanied Henry Miller on his auto-trek across America in 1940-41. Miller had met Abe in Paris, circa 1937 or 1938--the Villa Seurat days. I've never read about the exact cirsumstance of their original meeting.

In 1940, Miller and Rattner were both in New York. Henry often visited Abe's studio to practice his watercolor technique. When Miller received a $500 publisher's advance for his road trip in August 1940, Rattner asked to come along.

Although the Air-Conditioned excursion is Rattner's principal association with Henry Miller, the two men maintained a life-long relationship, and Rattner continued on with his own distinguised career as an artist.

I'll explore the life of Abe Rattner over the next week or two. For now, here are some primary resources for Rattner:

The Abraham Rattner And Esther Gentle Papers collection in the Smithsonian Arhcives of Amercian Art. This website contains extensive biographical information. It also details their collection, including many items relating to Henry Miller.

The Leepa-Rattner Museum Of Art at St. Petersburg College in Tarpon Springs, Florida. An art museum dedicated to the works of Rattner, his step-son Allen Leepa, and his contemporaries. The website contains a break-down of the Rattner permanent exhibit, which includes the un-published drawings he made of the Air-Conditioned Nightmare trip.

Abraham Rattner, Fete Bretonne, 1923, oil in canvas by Lennie Bennett. An in-depth, interactive analysis of a 1923 painting by Rattner, recently posted by the St. Petergburg Times. Conatins a brief Rattner bio.

Rattner's artwork critiqued from a Jewish perspective, from the Center For Advanced Holocaust Studies.

A Word About Abraham Rattner (1965) by Henry Miller.

A Bodhisattva Artist by Henry Miller, in Remember To Remember (1945).

HM And I See America by Abraham Rattner, from the collection The Happy Rock:A Book About Henry Miller (1945). This is only an excerpt from Rattner's When We Were Together (unpublished?), which is held in the Smithsonian's Rattner collection.

Jewish Artists In New York: The Holocaust Years (2002) by Matthew Baigell (with a chapter on Rattner).

The Spiritual Art Of Abraham Rattner (1998) by Robert Henkes.

An analysis of Rattner's stained glass work, posted by the Michigan State University.

The above photograph of Rattner can be found on the Leepa-Rattner Museum website.

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