Abstract expressionist painter Perle Fine remained faithful, throughout a long and prolific career, to her own tenets of the movement. Active in the modern art scene from the 1930’s until the year of her passing in 1988, Fine's creativity explored and reworked several abstract styles and ideas, but always emphasized her ability to produce a certain harmony on canvas. Her work accentuated the beauty of rhythmic variations and the subtle nuances of color, line, shape and space.
Perle Fine was born near Boston, Massachusetts in 1905. She began her formal studies at the Boston Practical School of Art to learn illustration and graphic design. She soon realized though that Boston lacked the interaction and stimulus that involved working amidst a community of artists, so Fine, now in her early twenties moved to New York City.
She enrolled for a brief period in the Grand Central School of Art learning illustration, composition and design with Pruett Carter, and in the 1930 annual exhibition of student work won first prize for illustration. It was at Grand Central that she met fellow student Maurice Berezov who would become her husband and lifelong partner.
Fine was an enthusiastic student and she actively sought to hone her skills and strengthen her foundation as an artist. She frequently visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art where she would copy works by artists she most admired. Rembrandt, Renoir, Cezanne and Gauguin were among her favorites; artists whom she felt were able to articulate feeling and emotion through painting. Again, restless with the sense that there was more to art than illustration, she enrolled at the Art Students League to study with Kimon Nicolaides. With his instruction, Fine received a thorough grounding in academic painting; sharpening her techniques in action drawing and in three- dimensional painting. These abilities gained through Nicolaides would remain fixtures in her work throughout her career.
Another important painter/teacher was Hans Hofmann whose school in the Village was located across the street from her own. During the early 1940s, Perle and Maurice maintained two cold-water flats, living in one flat and maintaining a separate studio in which to work in the other. Fine painted in the studio, and when she was completely frustrated with her canvas, she would visit Hofmann's class for guidance. She employed his method of dissecting Cubism into its formal components in order to navigate her own emerging sense of geometric abstraction.
It was at this time that Fine and Berezov joined the American Abstract Artists (AAA) where they met Piet Mondrian. Fine, so familiar with Mondrian’s theories of Neo-Plasticism and his aesthetics was also fortunate to have observed him painting in his studio. Perhaps one of the most and distinguishing moments in her career was a commission by Emily Tremaine to make two interpretations of Mondrian’s Victory Boogie Woogie, a painting left unfinished at his death in 1944. One interpretation replicated the unfinished painting, while the second demonstrated Mondrian’s intent upon completion.
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