top of page

Case Study 2

Questions? Contact Us

Case Study 2 is a legacy collection of the estate of artist Manny Bromberg whose career spanned eighty years of the 20th and early 21st century of American visual arts. A diverse and highly regarded artist, Manny was the George Bellows Award national prize winner in high school, a noted New Deal muralist, decorated World War II war artist, Guggenheim fellow, influential teacher and lecturer, and an award-winning painter and the creator of “cliff” sculptures.  Moving from a formal academic training of figurative and social realism into modern abstraction, along with his pioneering process to cast actual cliffs in nature, his lifetime work reflects his epic quest to steadfastly explore uncharted territory. Different from most artists of his generation, he adjusted to changing times and produced outstanding work in each phase of his long career.  His paintings and cliff sculptures have been shown in major galleries and museums, and his works are in the collections of over twenty-five museums in the United States, Europe, and Japan.




In his broad, award-winning career as painter, muralist, sculptor, and influential teacher, the artist moved from realism into abstraction and then onto a daunting undertaking to replicate nature in the creation of monumental cliff sculptures. Born to formidable single mother Tilly, a seamstress who made part of her living sewing burial suits for dead gangsters, Manny never knew his father. He began painting at the age of ten with Saturday classes at the Cleveland Museum of Art. At sixteen, he won the prestigious national George Bellows Award, including a year at Pratt. He chose instead a four-year scholarship at Cleveland School of Art. Upon graduation he headed to California where he worked as an animator for Walt Disney and had a successful caricature stand on the Venice pier. By summer’s end, he jumped on a freight train and headed to the Broadmoor Art Academy in Colorado Springs in hopes of studying with art luminary Boardman Robinson. His talent quickly earned him the position as Robinson’s assistant and protégé (1937-1940). That same talent also earned him numerous New Deal post office murals: at age twenty, he was the youngest artist to be awarded a mural design in the WPA Easel Program; the Section of Fine Arts awarded him three additional murals (Oklahoma, Wyoming and Illinois); he was Winner of a 48-state mural competition and featured in LIFE magazine. He fell in love with fellow art student, Jane Dow. In addition to his murals, he was asked to participate in the exhibition of Contemporary American Painting of 1940 at the Whitney Museum, and in “Art in America” – all before the age of twenty-three. Then came the war. In 1943, as Technical Sergeant, he was handpicked as the war artist for the European Theater Operations. As just another GI, who just  happened to have special skills as an artist, he participated in the top-secret dress rehearsal Exercise Fox in England, he later landed at Omaha Beach. He exhibited his war paintings at Westminster Abbey in London and Palais Royale in Paris. During the Liberation of Paris, he spent time with Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Jean Cocteau.  He was decorated with the Legion of Merit for his outstanding service as soldier and artist. Following the war, he stepped away from his reputation in social realism and embraced modernism and abstraction, was awarded a Guggenheim, and began a career in teaching. In 1949, NC State College’s School of Design sought him out to join their faculty. There he met top architects of the world including Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van der Roe, and became a lifetime friend of Buckminster Fuller, working together on the geodesic dome. In 1954, when NATO hired him to paint the portraits of their Generals (Commander in Chief, USAFE, General Norstadt; French Naval Commander Admiral Andre G. Lemonnier; and others), the family moved to Paris. Returning stateside in late 1955 he continued his success as a prominent portraitist. In 1957, he moved to Woodstock, NY to begin teaching at the State University of New York, New Paltz. Considered a transforming, influential artist-educator, he taught Painting and Drawing as the head of the department until 1979 (then Professor Emeritus). While a professor, he was awarded a Distinguished Research Fellowship allowing him to pursue a longstanding interest in relief and strata. In what he considered the most satisfying part of his well-established career, he experimented and ultimately invented a process to replicate nature – a 45’ high cliff of heroic scale. William Seitz, Chief Curator at Museum of Modern Art, wrote about and championed the initial impact and originality of his cliffs. Ivan Karp, owner of SoHo’s O.K. Harris Gallery, and dealer for Warhol, Lichtenstein and Rauschenberg, was the early endorser and promoter of Bromberg’s  “works of genius” monumental fiberglass sculptures. With his cliffs in major collections, including Storm King Art Center, Hankone Sculpture Museum, and Princeton University Art Museum, honorariums and solo exhibitions of his paintings and sculptures followed throughout his remaining years. His war paintings and drawings are in the permanent collections of prominent war museums, including Brown University Military Museum Collection, the National Museum of the US Army, the Memorial Museum in Caen, Normandy, France, West Point Museum, the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, the Kirkland Museum in Denver, the FDR Library in Hyde Park, NY, General G.C. Marshall Library, Norman Rockwell Museum, and the Smithsonian American Art Archives in Washington, DC. His paintings have been shown in major galleries and museums all over the country and the world – London, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and beyond.  His work has been published in books (including Gallery of Great Paintings-100 best paintings circa 1300 thru 1943. Foreword by Peyton Boswell, Arlene Crane, Ed, 1944), magazines and newspapers (including LIFE, Art News, Art Digest, The New York Times, Leonardo Magazine, the Guardian, Chicago Sun, and the Los Angeles Times). He was featured in ‘They Drew Fire’ documentary film and book about the surviving combat artists of WWII (2000).  In 2004, the Imperial War Museum in London selected him as the only American war artist to be represented in their D-Day Anniversary Exhibit. BBC interviewed him. At age 98, a solo exhibition Manuel Bromberg: Cliff Sculptures brought together a focused scope of the artist’s fiberglass cliffs produced between 1968-2010, a look at his innovative idea of reimaging scale and weight of rock formations in nature. Over 300 people attended the artist’s talk – the largest ever attendance for the gallery.  In 2017, acclaimed novelist and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon wrote about him in the New Yorker.  Manny’s circle of longtime friends included Boardman Robinson, Adolf Dehn, Ernest Fiene, Doris Lee, Christine Herter Kendall, Ilye Bolotowsky, Olin Dows, Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, architect James Fitzgibbon, Philip Guston, Raoul Hague, Nick Marsicano, Walter Plate, Herman Cherry, Bernard Steffen, Ed Chavez, Andree Ruellan and John Taylor, David Collens (Storm King), Ben Wigfall, and Alex Minewski. To the end of his life he thought his beloved wife was the better artist, believed in the importance of chance and happenstance, mentored others, and continued to challenge himself in his work. Manny died in Woodstock at age 104.

bottom of page