Harry Shoulberg was born in Philadelphia, 25 October 1903 of Russian/Jewish heritage. His father, Max Shoulberg, was the fourth of twenty children and the first to be born in American. His mother was Tessie Derfler, a New Yorker of German descent. Harry grew-up in New York, married Sylvia Hendler in 1931, and had one child, Ted.
Shoulberg attended City College of New York where he studied biochemical engineering for three years before switching to fine arts in his last year. He continued his art education at the John Reed School, 1934-1935, the American Artist School, 1935-1937, and then privately at the studios of artists Sol Wilson (1894-1974) and Carl Holty (1900-1973). In 1938, he worked for the WPA and produced two oil paintings for the organization.
He maintained studios in New York City and Bridgehampton on Long Island until 1983. He was a late bloomer with his first national show coming much later than is usual for a successful artist. However, what the public saw was a fully mature artistic personality. At this first show, the Corcoran Biennial, his first sale was a purchase by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In subsequent years the Met would add several of his paintings to its collection.
Shoulberg's media were oil painting and serigraphy; and in both media, his strength resides in his bold use of colors and broad, rapid strokes. His style has been generally described as a mixture of Cezanne, Vlaminck, Roualt, and Soutine, and is often called expressionistic. In a letter dated 25 March 1941, Duncan Phillips wrote to Shoulberg on behalf of the American Federation of Arts requesting Shoulberg's participation in a Washington D.C. show at the Corcoran. As a testimony to Harry's talent, the ending paragraph of the letter includes the following revealing sentences:
"This letter goes to a limited number of artists whose work I feel should have a wider display than this Washington meeting. I earnestly hope that you will lend your painting for my group, if it is not sold or already promised elsewhere."
Harry Shoulberg died 15 April 1995 in New York at the age of 91.
Permanent Collections: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Denver Museum, San Francisco Museum, Baltimore Museum, The Butler Institute of American Art, Tel Aviv Museum, Ain Harod Museum, Carnegie Institute, Milwaukee Art Institute, New York. State University, University of Wisconsin, University of Oregon, New Jersey State College, U.S. State Department, George Walter Vincent Smith Museum, Norfolk Art Museum, University of Arizona; Wichita State University; St. Lawrence State University.
Awards: First Prize Bronx House, 1943; Purchase Prize Milwaukee Art Inst., 1948; Tanner Prize Philadelphia, 1949; First Prize Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY, 1952; Second Prize Parrish Museum, Southampton, New York, 1953; First prize Guild Hall, East Hampton, New York, 1955; Emily Lowe Award, 1956; Jane Peterson Prize, New Jersey Soc. Of Painters & Sculptors, 1956; Kapp Award Silvermine Guild, CT, 1957; Grumbacher Award, 1963; Jane Peterson Medal Audubon Artist's, 1965; New Jersey Kaplan Memorial Award at Society of Contemporary Artists, N.Y.C., 1966; Talen's Award at New Jersey Museum, 1967.
National Shows: Corcoran Biennial, 1941; Pennsylvania Academy, 1946; Library of Congress, 1946-47-48; Brooklyn Museum, 1950; National Academy, 1952.
One Man Shows: Modern Age Gallery New York, 1945; Francis Webb Gallery San Francisco, 1946; National Serigraph Society New York, 1949; Teacher's Center, 1950; Denver University, 1950; Salpeter Gallery - New York, 1951; Hudson Guild, NY, 1955; Harbour Gallery - Cold Spring Harbor, NY, 1968; High Point Gallery Lenox MA, 1969.
Listings: Who Was Who in American Art; Who's Who in the World, 1978; Dictionary of International Biography, 1978; Who's Who in World Jewry, 1981, Prize Paintings, No. 7, 1967; American Artists of Renown, 1981; American Prize Prints of the Twentieth Century, 1949; Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1983.