Long Beach Museum of Art
2300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90803
Contact:  Mikhael Mei Williams, Manager of Public Relations and Marketing
(562) 439-2119, ext. 256
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Eugene Berman, “Cassandra”, 1942-43, oil on canvas, 57 x 45 1/2 inches.
Collection of the McNay Art Museum, gift of Robert L. B. Tobin.

Long Beach, CA The Long Beach Museum of Art presents High Drama: Eugene Berman and the Legacy of the Melancholic Sublime, featuring the paintings of Surrealist artist Eugene Berman together with work by his contemporaries, and later artists exploring similar themes and subjects. The exhibition includes 92 paintings, photographs, sculptures and maquettes, and arises from a new view of these artworks and their relationships, suggesting new connections and a common tone of “melancholic sublime.” The Long Beach Museum of Art presents High Drama in its only west coast presentation, from September 9 through October 30, 2005. High Drama was organized by the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas.

A Russian Jewish painter and designer, Eugene Berman (1899 – 1972) emigrated to the United States on the brink of the Holocaust. He was one of the most celebrated artists of the 1930s and 1940s, designing imposing settings and sumptuous costumes for premier theatrical companies, including the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and the Metropolitan Opera. Berman’s Neo-Romantic paintings of decadent beauty and the ruined past were prized by discerning collectors. But in the 1950s and 1960s, as formalist abstraction came to dominate the American art world, his influence waned. With the return to figuration in the 1980s and 1990s, his work and that of his fellow Neo-Romantics became important to contemporary artists, critics and curators. Berman’s nostalgic response to the inexorable losses of history, termed the “melancholic sublime,” gained renewed meaning in response to the AIDS pandemic, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and other cataclysmic events.

High Drama underscores connections between Berman’s works and that of his contemporaries, notably Neo-Romantics Christian Bérard and Pavel Tchelitchev, as well as Surrealists Joseph Cornell, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Yves Tanguy and Dorothea Tanning. The exhibition also demonstrates Berman’s relevance to artists today, including Julio Galán, Julie Heffernan, Larry Pitman and Cindy Sherman, and links multiple generations of American artists who have expressed, with poetic intensity and heartbreaking beauty, what it means to be human.

High Drama is guest curated by Michael Duncan, in conjunction with Jody Blake, Curator of the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts at the McNay Art Museum. Duncan is a Corresponding Editor for Art in America and a frequent contributor to Artforum. An art historian specializing in modernism with an emphasis on the relationship between the visual and the performing arts, Blake was an associate professor of Art History at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. A full-color exhibition catalogue is available.

Funding for this exhibition is generously provided by the Tobin Foundation for Theatre Arts, funded by the Tobin Endowment, and by the Ewing Halsell Foundation Endowment. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.

The Long Beach presentation of High Drama is generously sponsored by the Evalyn M. Bauer Foundation, the Bess J. Hodges Foundation, the Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation, Jim Morris, Bernard Jazzar and Harold B. Nelson, Ron Nelson and David Schnur, Yellowbook USA and Venice Magazine.

Education Programs
September 11
Sunday, 2:00 p.m., Lane Oceanview Gallery
High Drama Artist Symposium
Moderated by Michael Duncan, featuring Patricia Cronin, Lari Pitman, Thomas Woodruff
Reservations are required.  Contact Sandy Winkler at ext. 228 for more information.
September 15
Thursday, 6 – 7 p.m., Lane Oceanview Gallery
KidsVisions Professional Development for Teachers
Designed for 5th grade teachers in the Long Beach Unified School District, this workshop will be presented by the LA Opera Education Department to acquaint teachers to the theme of opera in High Drama: Eugene Berman and the Legacy of the Melancholic Sublime. Reservations are required.  Contact Sandy Winkler at ext. 228 for more information.
September 18
Sunday, 2 – 3 p.m., Lane Oceanview Gallery
L.A. Opera Community Recital
Presentation of arias from operas represented in High Drama. Reservations are required at ext. 271.
Sunday, 2 – 4 p.m., Boeing Classroom
Creativity Lab for Families
Daliesque Fashion Collage
September 22
Thursday, 7 – 8 p.m., Lane Oceanview Gallery
The Salon: Neo-Romantic Poetry Readings
October 2
Sunday, 2 – 3:30 p.m., Lane Oceanview Gallery
High Drama Curator Talk with Michael Duncan
Reservations are required at ext. 271.

October 9
Sunday, 2 – 4 p.m., Boeing Classroom
Creativity Lab for families
Dream Journals and Set Design                                              

About The Long Beach Museum of Art
Located on a magnificent bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, The Long Beach Museum of Art features changing exhibitions, artmaking workshops for all ages, an historic mansion and carriage house, expansive galleries and gardens, oceanfront dining at Claire’s at the Museum and a wonderful gift store. The galleries and gift store are open Tuesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours to 9 p.m. Wednesday – Friday through October 2005. Claire’s at the Museum opens early at 8 a.m. and closes with the galleries. Admission is $5/adults, $4/students & seniors, free for Museum Members and children under 12, and for everyone the first Friday of every month. For more information, call (562) 439-2119 or visit <>.

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