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Maurice Becker papers, circa 1910-1970

Biographical Note

Painter and political cartoonist Maurice Becker (1889-1975) lived and worked in New York City, New York and Tioga County, Pennsylvania, and was a frequent contributor to contemporary periodicals of the 1910s.
Becker was born in Nizhni-Novgorod (now Gorky), Russia to Isor and Rose Becker. In 1892, his family immigrated to the United States and settled in the Jewish community of Manhattan's Lower East Side. After graduating from high school, Becker took night classes in bookkeeping and art, studied with Robert Henri and Hugo Boss, and worked days as a sign painter and garment factory worker. He began illustrating for the New York Tribune and Scripps newspapers from 1914 to 1915, and contributed artwork to numerous contemporary periodicals in the 1910s, including Harper's Weekly, Saturday Review, and Metropolitan. Becker was also a frequent contributor to more radical political journals, including The Masses, Liberator, and One Big Union Monthly.
In 1918, he married Dorothy Baldwin, who was a registered Socialist. After stating his conscientious objection to World War I, Becker traveled to Mexico to avoid the draft and was arrested upon his return in 1919. After his trial and sentencing, he served 4 months of hard labor before President Wilson's commutation of all objectors to the war. From 1921 to 1923, Becker lived in Mexico working as an illustrator for El Pulsa de MĂ©xico, and began to devote himself to painting full time.
After his return to New York City, Becker held a series of one-man shows at the Whitney Studio Club (1924-1928), J.B. Neumann Gallery (1924-1931), and Delphic Studios (1930). Becker was a member of the Society of Independent Artists and the Artists' League of America and remained a pacifist for the rest of his life. He died in 1975.