Ellen Berkenblit (b. 1958, New Jersey) joins fine art and pop culture with her colorful, gestural compositions of women and animals that resemble comic strip clippings. Her practice explores line in animated compositions, combining Abstract Expressionist traditions with cartoon characters of her own invention. Berkenblit’s cast of characters reoccurs throughout her compositions—a bear, a horse, a mouse and a girl, often in profile. The audience can track these figures between paintings, drawings and prints; however, the narrative in each depiction is left to the viewer’s imagination. This phenomenon has much to do with Berkenblit’s mastery of line and color, escaping traditional figuration with lush swaths of abstraction.
Berkenblit received her BFA from Cooper Union in 1980. She had her first solo exhibition in 1984 and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014. Additionally, her work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), Brooklyn Museum (New York) and Aspen Art Museum (Colorado), among others. The artist lives and works in New York City.