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Milton Resnick

By Will Barnet

My first association with Milton Resnick was through the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  But long before that time I was aware of his presence on the New York art scene. Milton was known as a powerful painter, a painter’s painter, a man of passion. His work displayed energy and imagination on a large scale that equaled his personality.

In later years, when we met socially, I discovered other dimensions of Milton Resnick—his ease of conversation, his appreciation of fellow artists, and his generous and enthusiastic spirit. In 1998, I had the pleasure of working with Milton in preparing the Academy’s Centennial Portfolio. During this time I was pleased to visit his studio. I will never forget entering the first floor of an old synagogue and being surrounded by huge energetic canvasses of Milton’s early career. Then I climbed the stairs to the third floor where I found Milton in a small, quiet studio. At that moment, I discovered new aspects of the artist. At this point in Milton’s career a darker nature emerged. Passion and energy were replaced by a reflective nature and depth as a thinker. Within the limitations that now existed, Milton was struggling to find a new way, a new concept of expression that would allow him to maintain his integrity as a man and an artist.

To quote his friend Edward Gomez, “For nearly six decades, Resnick reveled in the drama and discoveries that come from an ongoing tug of war—explorations of pigment on canvas. He has shown us what he can make paint do.”

I recently was reviewing the Centennial Portfolio and as I reflected on Milton’s print, You and Me and Angels, it was very clear to me that through his art he did succeed in that struggle. As Stephen Westfall said, “For Resnick, the mystery of painting was not a problem to be solved, but rather a place in which to dwell.”

Read at the Academy Dinner Meeting on November 11, 2004.

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