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Arnold Mesches papers, 1939-2015

Biographical Note

Arnold Mesches (1923-2016) was a painter in New York, New York and Gainesville, Florida. Born in the Bronx and raised in upstate Dunkirk, New York, Mesches studied advertising design in high school before moving to Los Angeles in 1943 to study art at the Jepson Art Institute and Chouinard Art Institute.
Mesches began his career as a scenic painter for Hollywood while honing his own style as a fine artist and illustrator influenced by the political landscape and social realism. As a result of his political activity and involvement in the Communist Party, the FBI opened a file on Mesches in the 1950s, and began tracking his activities. The file, obtained by Mesches through a Freedom of Information Act request in 1999, became the basis for one of his most famous series, The FBI Files.
Throughout his life, Mesches was a socially-oriented figurative painter working in an expressionist style, mining the daily news and the current political landscape for subject matter, including the Cold War, the trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and the Vietnam War. Mesches was also one of the organizers of the 1966 Peace Tower artwork in Los Angeles and contributed illustrations to Frontier magazine throughout the 1950s, and The Nation magazine from 1960s-1980s.
In the early 1980s, Mesches relocated to New York City with wife, novelist Jill Ciment.
Mesches held several teaching posts over the course of his career, including at the New School, New York University, and the University of Florida.