Michael Brenner


Michael Brenner was born in Lithuania in the year 1885. His brother, Victor, already established as a medallist in New York City, brought Michael and the family to  New York in 1894. First apprenticed to his brother, Michael attended the renown Art Student's League school where Augustus St. Gaudens recognized his talent and encouraged his further studies in Paris, first more formally at the   Beaux Arts and for two more years at the Academie Julian. His early work was well received, and he was soon embraced by the flock that centered about Gertrude Stein, a homing beacon for talent. Brenner became close with Stein,  creating a portrait bust, of which she was very fond, and a unique, almost full size nude. Brenner was art director of the avant garde magazine, "The Soil," which published Stein's first writings. In Paris,  Brenner kept  his studio at 52 Rue Lhomond in the Quartier Latin (The Latin Quarter) until very near the time of his death in 1969. Brenner's drawing was an important part of his artistic energy balance, sharing energy with his classic, and often uncast, sculptures. The  drawings provided essential elements for his clays and plasters, but also reflected his lifelong effort to achieve a higher level of spontaneous, complete, artistic truth. His work is in important American collections including the  Baltimore Museum of Art, The Hirschorn Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Magnes Museum, Berkeley, California.

"What an occasion!

I take my few scarce francs
And spend them on a model
Have for the next X hours
Access to another female
The form--in scanty lines--
goes down on paper and moves

   Toward an ideal.

       In my eyes

           The woman in herself."

                       -Joseph Brenner, October, 1996