New York Paintings by Bernard Safran

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Bernard Safran was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1924 to immigrant parents. His father had fled Czarist Russia after escaping from a Siberian prison camp; his mother had been sent to America at age thirteen to work as a milliner and pay for her refugee family's passage from Poland. Safran grew up in the rough and vibrant community of Bensonhurst, where Murder Inc. operated, and his best friend's father was the local bookie. His childhood memories were visually rich - full of the colorful people, sights, sounds and odors of everyday life in the big city. His street-smart upbringing with gangsters, pushcarts, fighting boys and 5 cent matinees left him with an unromanticized appreciation for the everyday life of the working classes. His warm, dark palette sets the tone of the paintings, and emphasizes the brooding atmosphere of the city. Despite the sometimes overwhelmingly depressing settings, he acknowledges the strength and grittiness of the individuals. "The people in my paintings are surrounded by enormous forces, but they're not defeated," he wrote.

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