This site provides access to the papers of Shirley Gorelick in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2022, and total 4,541 images.
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New York and Washington, D.C. painter Shirley Gorelick (1924-2000) is known primarily for her large-scale portraits in acrylic. Gorelick described her work as "psychological portraiture," that depicted couples and families through an intimate and empathic lens.
Gorelick was born Shirley Fishman in Brooklyn, New York. Her education involved studying with Chaim Gross, Moses Soyer, and Raphael Soyer, and then with Serge Chermayeff at Brooklyn College where she earned her B. A. in 1944. Gorelick subsequently earned an M. A. at Teachers College, Columbia University, briefly attended the Hans Hofmann School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and also studied with Betty Holliday in Port Washington, Long Island. In 1944 Gorelick married Leonard Gorelick, a dentist with a passion for art and science.
Gorelick's early work was influenced by Cubism, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism, but she ultimately gravitated towards realistic, figurative portraits painted from photographs and direct observation. While working primarily in acrylic, she was also known for her silverpoint drawings and intaglio prints. Working with middle-aged couples and family groups repeatedly in the 1970s and 1980s, Gorelick's work explores the psychological state of her subjects as they directly engage the viewer.
In 1973, Gorelick was a founding member of Central Hall Gallery, a cooperative run by all women artists in Port Washington. She also had six solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group shows at SOHO 20, the second all-women artist-run exhibition space in New York City. She was one of thirteen women artists who collaborated on The Sister Chapel, painting a nine-foot portrait of Frida Kahlo for the installation which premiered at P.S. 1 in Long Island City in 1976.
Gorelick's work was widely exhibited, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, and she is represented in the collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum, among others.