Beauty in all its manifestations consumed Ben-Zion: from the visual, to the literary, to the musical.
From childhood Ben-Zion (1897-1987) followed an innate sense for art with a singular vision by gathering objects, walking and drawing from nature. At the same time he was deeply involved in the re-kindling of the Hebrew language — teaching and writing fairytales, dramas and poetry. He emigrated from the Ukraine to the US in 1920 and immersed himself in a vibrant community of Hebrew and Yiddish writers in New York. Despairing of language as it was sullied by the propaganda of the Second World War and the disappearance of the European Jewish voice during the Holocaust, Ben-Zion’s paintbrush became the prime vehicle of his artistic output.
From his first one-man exhibition at the Artist’s Gallery in 1936 until his retrospective at the Jewish Museum in New York City in 1959, Ben-Zion was represented by major galleries and museums. He was a founding member of “The Ten,” a group of expressionist painters who positioned themselves against conservative and academic painting prevalent in pre-war New York. Despite being largely eclipsed by the rise of Abstract Expressionism and formalist criticism, Ben-Zion followed his own vision, working prolifically into his 90th year.