Georges Schreiber, Belgian (1904 - 1977)

Georges Schreiber

Georges Schreiber was born 25 April 1904 in Brussels, Belgium. After studying in Berlin, London, Rome, Paris, and Florence, he moved to New York in 1928. Schreiber exhibited at the Carnegie Institute, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum of American Art, Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art - often winning prizes.

Besides his career as a lithographer, Schreiber was also a painter, illustrator, watercolorist as well as a teacher at the New School for Social Research. Museum collections of Schreiber's work include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of the City of New York.

Schreiber was a regular contributor to several national magazines and an author and illustrator of several books. The artist died in New York in 1977.

“I don’t want to be just an American with citizenship papers,” Schreiber declared. “I want to completely associate myself with America” (Current Biography, p. 674). Born in Brussels, Belgium in 1904, Schreiber did precisely that and, over the course of his career, became a thoroughly American artist.

Growing up in war-torn Europe, Schreiber was profoundly impacted by the horrors he witnessed. As a family of German descent living in Belgium during the First World War, the Schreibers were scorned by their neighbors; when they later returned to Germany, however, they were despised as Belgians. “All this has made me conscious of the times I live in . . . and the people I live with. It has made me strive with passion for human understanding in my work” (Current Biography, p. 673).

Young Schreiber studied art in Belgium, at the Academy of Fine Art in Berlin and in London; related travels took him to Paris, Rome and Florence. From 1925 to 1928, he worked as a free-lance artist for German newspapers, a line of work he would continue upon his arrival in American in 1928. By 1936, he was employed with the Works Project Administration.

An inveterate traveler, Schreiber visited each of the forty-eight states in 1939. The artist would ultimately make five cross-country journeys, from New England to California, Florida to Oregon, capturing contemporary American scenes with honesty and attention to detail. Considered en masse, Schreiber’s oeuvre reveals the artist to be acutely aware of the world’s brutal realities and keenly attuned to the characters he portrayed so powerfully.

Schreiber exhibited his travel paintings as a Panorama of America at numerous galleries and museums across the country. "Louisiana Cotton Pickers" was featured at the Whitney Gallery in 1939, along with another Louisiana subject. That same year, the artist was represented at the New York World’s Fair. Preferring rural to urban themes, Schreiber’s favorite composition was a lonely type set against a simple landscape background. “I want to live these people . . . not depict them” he said. (Current Biography, p. 675).

In addition to creating these heartfelt images, Schreiber continued to work as an illustrator. He sketched the Bruno Hauptmann kidnapping trial, illustrated the book "Little Man What Now", contributed to "Life" and "Fortune" magazines, and earned wide acclaim for his caricatures. A 1936 publication entitled "Portraits and Self-Portraits" contained illustrations with short biographies of famous contemporary figures, all executed by Schreiber.

During the Second World War, the United States Navy commissioned Schreiber to create paintings to use as posters. When fellow artists criticized him for this kind of work, Schreiber replied that “art for art’s sake” should be shelved for the duration of the war and voiced his approval of any medium which brought good art to great numbers of people.

Over the course of his career, Georges Schreiber exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Gallery, White House Library, Library of Congress and Bibliotheque Nationale, among others. He garnered numerous awards, including the William Tuthill Prize.

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