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Theresa Bernstein

An artist whose career spanned ninety years, Theresa Bernstein echoed the philosophy of the Ashcan School with her expressive paintings of daily life in the bustling crowds of New York. Bernstein studied at what would become the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia and the Art Students League in New York. Her modernist style and blazing colors were often called masculine by critics, but she often chose to depict women at work and play, from trolley and seashore scenes to suffrage rallies. Bernstein cofounded the Society of Independent Artists in 1916, which allowed any artist to put on an exhibition without juries or prizes. She was a fixture of both the art scene in New York and a respected summer arts colony in Gloucester, Massachusetts, but as interest in realistic subject matter waned, her career suffered. The feminist movement revived interest in her work, however, and her paintings and prints are now in the collections of museums across the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

More on: Feminism, Painting
Theresa Bernstein, 1924
Full image

Theresa Bernstein, who was born in 1890 and died in 2002—just two weeks shy of her 112th birthday—had a life and artistic career which spanned the entire twentieth century. This photo of Bernstein alongside one of her works was taken in 1924.

Institution: Library of Congress.

Date of Birth
March 1, 1890
Place of Birth
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Date of Death
February 12, 2002

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Theresa Bernstein." (Viewed on December 15, 2018) <>.


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