The University of Wisconsin, Madison’s second Artist in Residence

Aaron Bohrod

Aaron Bohrod (1907-1992), Portrait of Conrad Elvehjem, 1963, oil
Chicago-born Aaron Bohrod was the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s second Artist in Residence from 1948 to 1973. His appointment followed that of John Steuart Curry, whose tenure was sponsored by the Agriculture school. Bohrod studied at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago before moving to New York to attend the Art Students League where his teachers included John Sloan (1871-1951) and Kenneth Hayes Miller (1876-1952). Known for his meticulous technique, Bohrod was among a group of American artists who explored an earlier trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”) manner as a reaction against Abstract Expressionism and other stylistically Modern developments. His technique was so convincing that his paintings required “do not touch” signs to accompany them in exhibitions to ward-off viewers curious about the painted illusions. Bohrod was critically and financially successful, and received two Guggenheim fellowships among other awards.

Bohrod covered the European theater during World War II as an artist war correspondent for Life magazine. Three years after the war, Bohrod settled in Madison, a city where he would remain until his death. Immensely popular, even President Harry S. Truman so admired a piece by Bohrod hanging in a senator’s office that he borrowed it for his own.

In 1963, Bohrod painted his (for whom Madison’s Elvehjem Museum of Art is named) one year following the death of his dear friend and the illustrious thirteenth president of the University of Wisconsin. The Union purchased it that same year.
catalog entry by Christena Gunther

The work shown here is a part of the UW Madison - Wisconsin Union Galleries collection and was part of a exhibition titled; “Highlights from the Wisconsin Union Art Collection.” This work is currently on loan to the WP&S exhibit Madison People Places and Events at the Steenbock gallery (1922 University Ave, in Madison) until April 1st 2006.

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