1917.
Manuel Bromberg is born on March 6th in Centerville, Iowa. Two years later, he moves to Cleveland, Ohio with his mother and older brother, Eric. When he is 10 years old, Bromberg begins Saturday morning art classes at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

1933.
At the age of 16, he is selected as the 1st Prize Winner of the George Bellows Award, a national art competition among high school students. First prize is a year’s scholarship to Pratt Institute in New York City. Bromberg turns down the covetous award and chooses to stay in his hometown and accepts a full 4-year working scholarship to the Cleveland School of Art.

1937-1938.
After graduating from Cleveland School of Art, Bromberg heads to Venice, CA and finds work as an animator with Walt Disney. Not liking the training program at Disney, Bromberg sets up a caricature stand on the Venice pier for a period of three months.

He moves to Colorado for graduate studies (1937-1940), specifically to study with much admired artist/muralist/political cartoonist/illustrator Boardman Robinson at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center. (
George Grosz considered Robinson the greatest draughtsman in the USA.)

Robinson takes Bromberg on as his assistant in 1937, during which time Bromberg helps Robinson do the Department of Justice murals in Washington, DC. During the summer of 1938 & 1939, Bromberg teaches drawing while Robinson is on sabbatical leave.

While at the Center, Bromberg meets Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Adolf Dehn, Doris Lee, and Arnold Blanch – former students of Robinson from the Arts Students League in NYC.

Bromberg is selected to be part of the Federal Arts Project’s WPA Easel Program.

On the basis of a mural entry for the Dallas, TX post office, Bromberg is awarded a mural commission by The Section of Fine Arts for the Tahlequah, Oklahoma Post Office (1938). (
The Section’s main function was to select high quality art to decorate public buildings in the form of murals; the agency was not a relief program, but awarded commissions competitively, based on artistic talent.)

1939.
Bromberg’s design for Greybull, Wyoming Post Office is selected by The Section of Fine Arts as a winner of a 48 State Mural Competition (juried competition of over 1,476 entries) and is featured in LIFE magazine.

Bromberg completes the mural,
Lacrosse, for the Tahlequah, Oklahoma Post Office. He begins work on his award-winning Greybull, Wyoming Post Office mural.

He exhibits at “Art in America,” a part of the 1939 World’s Fair. Other selected exhibits of Bromberg’s paintings in 1939 include San Francisco, New York, Denver Chicago, Cleveland, and Ottawa, along with a traveling exhibit, “Artists West of the Mississippi.”

Bromberg meets his future wife, Jane Dow, who has come to Colorado on a full scholarship to study with Robinson (1939-1940).

1940.
The Whitney Museum of Art invites Bromberg to exhibit his work in the museum’s Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting. (1940-1941). The NY Times Review reproduces the work.

Bromberg completes
Chuck Wagon Serenade mural (egg tempera on canvas with impasto) for the Greybull, Wyoming Post Office (Section of Fine Arts).

Bromberg is awarded a 3rd mural commission by the Section of Fine Arts for the Geneva, Illinois Post Office.
Fish Fry mural, 13’ x 16’, is completed in 1940.

1941.
Arnold Blanch invites Bromberg to come stay with him in Woodstock, NY and to join the local artist group. Meanwhile, Jane Dow is in NYC studying art at the Arts Students League. To help pay for her night art classes, she works at Lord & Taylor, which is where Manuel proposes to her, over the perfume counter. They hitchhike 100 miles to Woodstock, where they are married by Justice of the Peace Shultis, on December 23rd.

1942.
Bromberg is inducted into the U.S. Army on April 15th from Saugerties, New York. He is sent to Camp Upton on Long Island for one day of processing. From there, he enters the Air Force and is sent to Biloxi, Mississippi for basic training.

After basic training, and based on Bromberg’s established art record, the commander of the airfield (Colonel Goolrick) asks Bromberg to paint a huge mural for the Service Club at Keesler Field, which is one of the Technical Training Command Schools of the Army Air Forces for those learning to fly and/or become mechanics for the B-24s. Harry Dix works on the mural with Bromberg.

Daughter, Susan, is born in Detroit, Michigan.

1943.
The War Department Art Advisory Board appoints Bromberg (26 years old) as an Official War Artist, to be “one of a small group of outstanding artists to go to an active war theater, and there to obtain a graphic record of the war.” (The letter of appointment from the War Department for his shipment was initiated in 1942 but they couldn’t locate Bromberg and the letter didn’t reach him until early 1943.) He is asked to serve as one of three artists assigned to the European Theater of Operations (England, France and Germany).

Bromberg is shipped out to England in August. Upon arrival in London, he is assigned to the Historical Section of the US Army. He sketches and photographs daily civilian life, scenes of London during the blitz, the efforts of the Army Air Force at various fighter fields, the Port of Hull, and the large forays of B-17s into France and Germany.

While stationed in London, Bromberg meets Sir Kenneth Clark (Chairman of the British War Artists’ Advisory Committee), along with war artists Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland.

1944-1945.
Bromberg meets Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who opens a London showing of the American War Artists' paintings in Westminster Abbey.

For the Pre-invasion, Bromberg is attached to the 116th Regiment, 29th Division, and is sent on a secret, full dress rehearsal for D-Day Omaha Beach known as “Exercise Fox,” held in Slapton Sands, England, where he is part of the live action along with documenting the event through sketches and photographs.

Yank Magazine reproduces two of Bromberg’s sketches (activity at Port of Hull, England).

The Historical Section assigns Bromberg to the landing troops, which means he is to go in first on every assignment. It is Sir Kenneth Clark who persuades Col. Ganoe, Head of the U.S. Historical Section, not to send Bromberg into Normandy’s Omaha Beach with the first assault troops; his designated boat position is D-Day+20 minutes. When Bromberg is kept off the initial landing at Omaha Beach, he is sent back to London and waits to see where the U.S. Historical Section will decide he is to go next.

Bromberg lands on Omaha Beach, D-Day+6 armed with a carbine, hip pocket sketchbook and Leica camera. He spends a 30-day stint covering the Invasion, beginning at Omaha Beach with the 1st Army and points outwardly around Normandy.

He returns to London in July to work on the material he has sketched and photographed of the Invasion/Normandy and finds the English city has changed since his departure in May. The V-1 rocket attacks (“Buzz Bombs”) have been launched in retaliation for Overlord, the Invasion.

In September, the entire Historical Section moves to Paris and Bromberg is provided a studio, which is housed in the former Austrian Embassy on the Avenue Hoche. Here, he produces paintings from sketches he has made. The paintings are sent back to the Archives in Washington, DC, to become the property of the Federal Government. (If rejected, the work is returned to the artist.)

He spends time with Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and Georges Braque.

Bromberg continues to go on assignments during 1944 & 1945: He covers Alsace-Lorraine and the towns of Nancy, the heavily fortified city of Metz – a strong hold of the Germans. He crosses the Maginot Line, into Strasbourg (the capitol of Alsace, which suffered great destruction by the Allies’ bombings), Colmar, and crosses the Siegfried Line into the forests at Hürtgenwald.

At the heavily bombed Port of Bremerhaven in Germany, he covers the railroads, submarine base, and the restoration of the German ship,
Europa, which the Allies have captured.

He covers the VE Day celebration in Paris.

A painting by Bromberg is included in “A Gallery of Great Paintings.” Crown Publishers. New York.

Technical Sergeant Bromberg is decorated with a Citation for the Legion of Merit for his outstanding service in his overseas assignment and for producing over 100 paintings & sketches, and over 400 photographs.

In October of 1945, as Master Sergeant, he is honorably discharged from the U.S. Army.

1946.
He is awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Painting and included in Who’s Who in America, as well as Who’s Who in American Jewry.

1947.
Salem College in Winston Salem, NC, appoints Bromberg as Chairman of the Art Department (1947-1949).

1949-1953.
Daughter, Christina, is born in Winston-Salem, NC (1949).

Bromberg is hired as Associate Professor of Design at North Carolina State College’s newly formed School of Design in Raleigh, NC. The staff includes Lewis Mumford, Buckminster Fuller, Matthew Nowicki, Edward Catalano, James Fitzgibbon, George Matsumoto, and Roy Gussow.

Visiting luminaries include Naum Gabo, Mies Van der Rohe, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Both students and faculty members are influenced by the giants of modern architecture, many of who make the long trek to Raleigh from Chicago, San Francisco, Paris and Madrid to lecture and teach.

While at NCSU School of Design, Bromberg becomes one of the first to recognize and support the work of Buckminster Fuller. Later, he is involved in the early exploration of Fuller’s Geodesic Dome and becomes a Vice-President of
Skybreak with Fuller as President of the company.

Bromberg’s paintings shift from representational to hardedge abstractions.

In 1953, he is commissioned to design a mural for the new College Union Building on North Carolina State College’s campus. He creates an avant-garde 10’ x 40’ mural made of colored plaster.

1954-1955.
The mural for the college union building is completed with the help of Professor Bromberg’s student, Ligon Flynn.

After working on the mural, Bromberg discontinues making hardedge paintings. “
What I was painting wasn’t as good as what I did in the mural.”

In 1954, Bromberg is invited to present his “Anticipatory Design Process” to the American Psychiatry Association’s National Conference in New York City.

Bromberg resigns from the School of Design and moves with Jane and their two daughters, Susan and Tina, to Europe. They live in Majorca, Spain and then Rome, Italy. In Paris, he covers the NATO Ministerial Meetings, where he is commissioned to paint portraits of several of the NATO Generals and to make drawings of scenes at SHAPE and the Foreign Ministers Conference. He is the only civilian present when Germany is admitted to NATO in 1955.

1956.
The family returns to Raleigh, NC and Bromberg continues to focus on painting portraits. An exhibition of his work is held at N.C. State College; it includes portrait commissions of Jonathan Daniels, Publisher of News & Observer, Mrs. William Friday, wife of President of University of North Carolina, and NATO Admiral Ghe, from Italy.

1957.
Bromberg is hired as Professor of Painting & Design at SUNY at New Paltz, New York; the family settles in Woodstock, NY.

1959.
He is elected Chairman of the Woodstock Artists Association.

1960.
Taking a sabbatical leave for a year, Manuel, Jane and daughter Tina (daughter Susan enters Barnard College in NYC) return to Paris, where Bromberg is given a studio at the Cite Universite and completes more commissioned work for NATO.

1961.
Bromberg returns to teaching Painting & Design fulltime at SUNY-New Paltz. In his own work, he moves away from portraits and concentrates on the creation of plaster paintings.

1963.
Based on the 1954 plaster mural in North Carolina, NYC architect A.W. Geller commissions Bromberg to design a mural for the lobby of a professional building in Teaneck, NJ, comprised of two walls of colored cement, weighing 10,000 pounds.

1966/1967.
Receives a Distinguished Research Fellowship award (one of 4 state-wide) from the State University of New York. With the grant money, it allows Bromberg to pursue his innovative idea of casting cliffs.

1968.
Marks the debut of Bromberg’s cliff sculptures. Ivan Karp, of the prestigious OK Harris Gallery (NYC), represents Bromberg and exhibits his fiberglass castings of cliff sculptures.

Storm King Art Center purchases Bromberg’s cliff,
Catskill, for their permanent collection.

1969.
Hankone Sculpture Museum, Tokyo, acquires one of Bromberg’s cliff sculptures for their permanent collection.

1970.
A 22-foot outdoor sculpture, Cliffside, is gifted by the artist to SUNY New Paltz in honor of the
memory of Martin Luther King Jr..

1971.
Solo Retrospective exhibit of Bromberg’s art takes place at SUNY, New Paltz..

1974.
Bromberg's Cliff Section becomes part of Princeton University Art Museum's collection in honor of William C. Seitz, class of 1955.

1976.
Participant in Vassar College Art Gallery’s “Woodstock, An American Art Colony, 1902-1977”

1979.
Bromberg retires from teaching at SUNY-New Paltz. He is given the title of Professor Emeritus.

He works on designs and maquettes of 30-foot high replicas of boulders, which are to be internally illuminated, and placed in urban spaces.

1983.
Manuel and Jane travel to Africa with anthropologist Mary Leakey on an explorative safari thru Kenya and to Tanzania’s Kondoa District to see its rock paintings.

1987.
Exhibit at College Art Gallery, SUNY-New Paltz. Manuel Bromberg: An Artist’s Wartime Sketchbook.

1988.
The celebrated opening of the Memorial Musee in Caen, Normandy features a wall of Bromberg’s war sketches where they remain on view as part of the Musee’s permanent collection.

1992.
Solo Retrospective at Woodstock Artists Association (Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture.)

1993.
Peter Harrington, Curator of Brown University Military Collection, contacts Bromberg about establishing a new section, “Artists at War” in their museum, with Bromberg’s sketches/paintings/photographs forming the foundation of the new department.

1997-1998.
Commission for an impressive 12’ x 28’ cliff,
23A. In the private collection of Peter and Dori Tilles, NY.

1998.
Bromberg and daughter, Tina, work together on the restoration of his 1954 plaster mural at NCSU. The University honors the mural with an historic plaque.

2000.
“They Drew Fire: Combat Artists of World War II” by Brian Lanker and Nicole Newnham. The documentary (as well as a book), focuses on Bromberg and 6 other combat artists from World War II. The film airs on PBS.

Stephen Ambrose, historian and writer who inspired and guided the development of the forthcoming National WWII Museum in New Orleans, contacts Bromberg, to consult with him about his D-Day experiences. It develops into an ongoing correspondence over the next two years.

Bromberg is asked for guidance with a proposal for the 29th Division’s Monument in Virginia. He creates a bronze maquette of a D-Day monument to represent “the heroic.” The sculpture is of three soldiers wading ashore: plain grunt soldier with rifle, the other with gun up in the air, and a wounded soldier.

2002.
“Over the Side” painting by Bromberg becomes part of the new National WWII Museum’s collection, in memory of Stephen Ambrose.

2004.
The Imperial War Museum in London asks Bromberg to participate in their D-Day Anniversary Exhibition – the only American war artist to be asked. The exhibit features his WWII sketches and memorabilia. Due to the popularity of the exhibit it is extended until January 2009.

Article by Adam Levy appears in
The Guardian on Bromberg’s war experience and includes first ever seen war photos.
BBC interviews Bromberg for their Sunday on-air Program.

2005.
Jane suffers a massive stroke. For the next four years, she is well cared for at home with the help of day nurses & aides, family members, and the loving attention of Manuel. During their final years together, Bromberg does numerous portraits and drawings of his beloved Jane.

2009.
Jane passes peacefully at home.

2010.
Bromberg is a participating artist in Storm King Art Center’s 50th Anniversary celebration.

2013.
Special Honorarium is bestowed on Bromberg from the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum, Woodstock, NY.

2015.
May. Solo Exhibition, Manuel Bromberg: Cliff Sculptures, Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, Woodstock, NY. Curated by Portia Munson and Jared Handelsman. May 1 – June 7, 2015.

June. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg travels to Berlin to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Germany’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Stoltenberg presents German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier with a special gift in honor of the occasion, which the Secretary General highlights several times during his speech. It is a portfolio set of sketches drawn by Manuel Bromberg, who had been commissioned by NATO from 1943 to 1945 to record the Ministerial Meetings and the accession of Germany at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris, France. To respect the unique quality of Bromberg’s original sketches from those meetings, only 250 copies of the portfolio set were printed.

2016.
May. Rededication of Bromberg’s 22’ Cliffside outdoor sculpture that had first been dedicated to SUNY New Paltz in honor of the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1970.

 

 


 

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BIOGRAPHICAL CHRONOLOGY