Morton Kaish- ART CART Oral Histories

Kaish, Morton; Hendriksen, Eileen; Research Center for Arts and Culture

Morton Kaish is an American artist whose whose light and color-filled work integrates the abstract and the figurative. His paintings, drawings and prints can be found in major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum and the British Museum.

Critics have pointed to Kaish's affinity to masters like Joaquín Sorolla—for his treatment of light and the figure—and Pierre Bonnard—for his use of color. Key themes of his work include the urban architecture visible from his studio windows, American landscapes, and the figure. Kaish’s interest in patriotic themes, following from his service as a Merchant Marine during World War II, culminated in his "America Series" paintings, which memorialize Abraham Lincoln and grapple with the history of the Civil War.

Kaish has been praised for his powerful ability to combine traditional and experimental painting techniques with contemporary insights, and reviews of his work can be found in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Christian Science Monitor and TIME, among many other publications. Notable exhibitions include the Hollis Taggart Galleries and Staempfli Gallery in New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the American Cultural Centers in Jerusalem and Rome.

In addition to painting, Kaish has also worked as a printmaker, using a range of techniques and mediums: intaglio, drypoint, sugar lift, and photogravure etching—stone, aluminum plate and transfer lithography, oil and water based zinc and plexiglass monotypes.

Morton Kaish earned his BFA at Syracuse University where he was awarded the Hiram Gee Fellowship in Painting. He continued his studies at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, the Istituto Statale d’Arte, Florence, and the Accademia di Belle Arti, Rome. During the 1950s and 1960s Kaish worked as a fashion illustrator for Harper's Bazaar, Esquire and Lord & Taylor. His work during this era was featured in a 2012 exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts titled "Figure/Fabric/Fantasy: Selections from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection of Fashion Drawing."

Kaish is Professor Emeritus in the School of Art and Design at FIT/SUNY. During his years as a professor, he created and led a summer course to Florence, Italy where he taught techniques used by Renaissance masters alongside contemporary approaches and materials. He has served as Artist-in-Residence at Dartmouth College; the University of Washington, Seattle; Haifa University, Israel, as well as on the faculties of the New School, the National Academy and the Art Students League of New York. For over 30 years, Kaish has served and advised arts organizations including the Artists Fellowship, the Century Association and the National Academy Museum & School.

Kaish has been honored with The Benjamin West Clinedinst Memorial Medal for exceptional artistic merit by the Artists’ Fellowship, awarded the Alumni Award for Achievement in the Arts by Syracuse University, and elected to the National Academy in 1988, he received their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.

Kaish discusses turning points in his career as an artist. He takes us on a journey that spans going to school at Syracuse University in the midst of a regime change, living abroad in post-war Paris and Italy, living in NY in the 60’s, living in Rome for a number of years, returning to NY, coming around to becoming a teacher, a revelation from the Reader’s Digest, creating new generations of artists, and what this moment means to him. Kaish lives and works in New York City. To learn more, please visit


  • thumnail for Morton_Kaish_Oral_History_Abstract___Clip_times.docx Morton_Kaish_Oral_History_Abstract___Clip_times.docx application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document 14.1 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Research Center for Arts and Culture
Art Cart Collection
Published Here
November 30, 2016


This zip archive contains audio files of an oral history interview and a text file describing themes addressed in the interview. For more information about the ART CART project, please visit their website: