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Reuben Tam papers, 1931-2006

Biographical Note

Reuben Tam (1916-1991) was a landscape painter and educator in New York, Maine, and Hawaii. Tam was born in Kapaa, Hawaii, in 1916. He received a degree in education in 1937 from the University of Hawaii and was briefly a public school teacher before attending graduate courses at the California School of Fine Arts. In 1941 he moved to New York and took courses in art history and philosophy at the New School for Social Research and Columbia University. Tam became affiliated with the Downtown Gallery in 1945 and was a prolific exhibitor in national and regional shows, winning critical praise as an abstract landscape painter. In 1948 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and first exhibited in the National Academy's annual exhibition in 1947.
Tam was an instructor at the Brooklyn Museum of Art School from 1946 to 1974. While there he taught advanced studies in painting and was chairman of the graduate painting department. He also served as a visiting professor at Oregon State University, Haystack, and Queens College, CUNY.
Beginning in 1948, Tam and his wife, Geraldine, spent summers at their home and studio on Monhegan Island, Maine. Tam's work was deeply influenced by coastal landscapes both in Maine and in his native Hawaii. In 1981 he and his wife moved back to Kapaa, Hawaii, where he continued to paint and exhibit his new works until his death in 1991.