Milton Resnick (1917-2004)
Born Rachmiel (nicknamed Milya) Resnick in Bratslav, Rodolia, Ukraine, on January 8, 1917. His family emigrated to the United States when Resnick was 5 years of age, landing on Ellis Island and settling in Brooklyn, New York. Rachmiel attended public school where a teacher renamed him Milton, after his nickname Milya. When he was 14, he enrolled in the commercial art program at the Pratt Institute Evening School of Art in Brooklyn, but was advised by his teacher to transfer to fine arts. The next year, in 1933, he transferred to the American Artists’ School in New York, where one of his classmates was Ad Reinhardt who would later become an abstract expressionist painter like himself.
In 1934, when Resnick told his father that he wanted to be a painter, his father replied, “Not and live in my house.” Resnick moved out, working as an elevator boy to support his studies at the American Artists’ School, where he was given a small room to paint in, using materials left by night school students, sine he could not afford to buy his own.
In 1938 he moved to a studio on West 21st Street, near Willem de Kooning with whom he would maintain a close relationship through the 1960s. In 1940, at the outbreak of World War II, he was drafted into the Army and served in Iceland and Europe, and after the War he lived for three years in Paris, where he met Alberto Giacometti and Constantin Brancusi, among others. In 1948, he returned to New York, and with his remaining G.I. benefits enrolled in abstract expressionist painter Hans Hofmann’s school. He rented a studio on East 8th Street, near Jackson Pollock, de Kooning, and Franz Kline, and in September met Pat Passlof, whom he married in 1961, and who remains a close companion and deep influence to the present.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Resnick gained recognition as an abstract painter, becoming one of the first New York painters to have a very large working space. Resnick’s work is in most major American collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of American Art, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.