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Sandor Bernath

(1892 - 1985)
Sandor Bernath was born in Hungary in 1892 and immigrated to the United States in his teens or early twenties. By the early 1920’s Bernath had achieved artistic acclaim with exhibitions at the New York Watercolor Club, the American Watercolor Society, as well as shows at the Brooklyn Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago where he exhibited alongside Edward Hopper and others. Bernath moved to Eastport, Maine in the late 1920s and during this period the New England coast and Yankee sailing ships continued to be his favorite subjects.

In 1935, Bernath traveled to Taos, New Mexico where he made paintings of the impressive scenery and the pink and brown adobe structures he encountered, including the church at Rancho de Taos and contiguous locales. Although Bernath arrived in the Southwest later than John Marin (1870-1953) - a fellow watercolorist Bernath had crossed paths with in Maine in the late 1920s - both artists were similarly inspired by the unique light, landscape, and culture of New Mexico. Bernath was clearly influenced by America’s modernist zeitgeist, but his Precisionist aesthetic and refined glowing forms stand in stark contrast to the visual fragmentation of the elder Marin’s paintings of the region.

Although later biographical data is scant, an American Watercolor Society address listing placed Bernath in Eastport, Maine as late as 1945. According to family accounts Bernath emigrated to Central America and built a beach house in Honduras in the early 1970s where he continued to paint until his passing in 1984. His work has earned him a place among the most talented American watercolorists of the twentieth century.