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Community Blog Aronson Sculpted a Remarkable Career

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Aronson's The Door is on display in Hebrew College's Cutler Atrium.
Aronson’s The Door is on display in Hebrew College’s Cutler Atrium.

David Aronson, renowned artist and former Hebrew College student, passed away last week at the age of 91. Aronson was born in Lithuania in 1923 and immigrated to this country at the age of 6. As a youth, he studied at what was then Hebrew Teachers College in Roxbury.

He later studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and in 1955 was invited to Boston University to lead the new program in visual arts, which he formed into the fine arts department, and eventually the College of Fine Arts. In 1958, Aronson established the Boston University Art Gallery; in 1962, he was appointed a tenured professor of art, and taught until his retirement, in 1989.

During Hebrew College’s 68th commencement exercises, in 1993, Aronson was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. The ceremony coincided with Dr. David Gordis’ inauguration as the seventh president of Hebrew College.

Aronson’s paintings and sculptures are in the collections of major museums, including Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Art Institute of Chicago. An obituary in the Boston Globe notes that “figuration was key for Mr. Aronson and other Boston expressionists, who shrugged off trendy abstraction to wrestle with moral, spiritual and psychological conundrums in their paintings. The son of a rabbi, Mr. Aronson struggled with the tension between his Orthodox Jewish upbringing and his artistic aspirations.”

Katherine French, director emerita of Danforth Art and curator of “David Aronson: The Paradox,” a 2009 exhibition at the Framingham museum, is quoted in the obituary saying that Aronson “was notorious, and he was also very respected. Major collectors all over the country were collecting his work.”

His monumental sculpture The Door is displayed in our campus’ Cutler Atrium; an identical version can also be seen at the MFA in Boston.

Hebrew College mourns the passing of this great artist and educator, and we are proud of his association with the college over the years. We extend our condolences to his wife of 60 years, Georgiana, and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchild. May they be comforted among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

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