As an artist still living and producing, the information available about Irving Amen tends to be more promotional than biographical. However, we do know that he showed early talent and was drawing by the time he was four years old. He was awarded a scholarship to the Pratt Institute of Art and Design at the age of fourteen. Even in the 1930’s Pratt was one of the most prestigious art schools in the U.S. so being granted a scholarship at such a young age meant his talent showed great promise. Amen particularly liked figure drawing and adopted Michelangelo as an artist he wanted to emulate.
His life between 1932 and 1942 is unrecorded. But he served in WWII from 1942 until 1945. It may have been during this time or shortly after the war that he headed a mural project and executed murals in the U.S.A and in Belgium.
His early printmaking exhibitions beginning in the late 1940’s featured woodcuts. These were one man shows, the first held at the New School for Social Research and the second at the Smithsonian Institution. Other shows in New York and Washington, D.C. followed a study trip to Paris in 1950. Three years later, Amen traveled throughout Italy. This trip resulted in a series of eleven woodcuts, eight etchings, and a number of oil paintings. One of the woodcuts from this series along with the 4 blocks used to produce each color became part of a permanent exhibit explaining color block printing at the Smithsonian.
Amen spent time teaching at the University of Notre Dame as well as the Pratt Institute. He also continued to travel, visiting Israel, Greece, and Turkey in 1960. His journeys were food for his art production and he even had an exhibition during a trip in Jerusalem.
Repeated themes appear in his work. The human figure is nearly always present but may be part of a genre series, a famous creative person series, or a series related to Genesis or the Hebrew prophets. Great works of literature were an inspiration to him. He was commissioned to illustrate the classic ancient epic Gilgamesh for the Limited Editions Club in 1984.
Other commissions include a Peace Medal in honor of the end of the Viet Nam War and designs for twelve large stained glass windows for a synagogue in Columbus, Ohio.
Since Michelangelo was so important to him, one of his greatest honors was to be elected a member of the Italian Accademia Fiorentina delle Arti del Disegno, an organization to which Michelangelo belonged.
14” x 18” image size
framed size 25” x 28 ½” ( glass removed for shipping )
“The Angel Stayed His Hand”
etching on heavy paper; slight creasing on verso does not affect image.
17 ½” x 31 ½” image size