Albert M. Bender

Albert Maurice Bender (June 18, 1866 – March, 4 1941)[1] was a leading patron of the arts in San Francisco in the 1920s and 1930s, who played a key role in the early career of Ansel Adams and was one of Diego Rivera's first American patrons. By providing financial assistance to artists, writers and institutions he had a significant impact on the cultural development of the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.[2][3]

Early life

Albert Maurice Bender was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1866, the son of Rabbi Philip Bender and Augusta Bremer Bender, both of whom were German. In 1881 he immigrated to the United States in the company of one of his maternal uncles, Joseph Bremer. Bremer and his brother William had already settled in San Francisco, and William hired the young Bender to work in his insurance office. Bender eventually became a very successful insurance broker in his own right.

Patron of the Arts

A lover of literature from an early age, Bender began collecting rare books and helped create the Book Club of California in 1912. Inspired by his cousin Anne Bremer, a professional artist, Bender began collecting art, with an emphasis on work by local artists and the arts of China, Japan and Tibet. He became very interested in getting to know and help the artists and writers of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Bender enjoyed giving things away even more than he liked acquiring them, and he became a prolific donor to Bay Area museums and libraries. He was once called "the most active buyer—and donor—of the work of California artists the state had ever known."[4] He donated significant collections to what are now the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Mills College Art Museum and the University of California Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

Beginning in 1932 he donated 260 pieces of Asian art to the National Museum of Ireland in memory of his mother. He gave collections of rare books and fine printing to Mills College, Stanford University, the University of California and the San Francisco Public Library.

His generosity in Europe earned him the titles of Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France and Cavaliere of the Crown of Italy. He received honorary degrees from Mills College and the University of California, Berkeley. Stanford University has a Bender Room in its library, and at Mills College there is a Bender Room in the former library building.

Bender served as a trustee of Mills College, a commissioner of the San Francisco Public Library, and a board member of the California Society of Etchers (today's California Society of Printmakers), California Historical Society, Book Club of California, Japan Society, the Home for Aged Disabled, and the San Francisco Symphony, Art Association, Museum of Art, Opera Association and Opera Guild.

Bender helped launch the career of many artists and photographers, including Ansel Adams. He financed the publication of Adams's first portfolio (Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras, 1927) and his first book (Taos Pueblo, with author Mary Hunter Austin, 1930).


Bender was described as "the best-known Jew in San Francisco" in the 1930s. He "was a founding board member of the Federation of Jewish Charities and a long-time congregant of Emanu-El, whose cavernous sanctuary could not hold all who came to his funeral."[5]

Albert Bender Exhibition, Dublin

A permanent exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland opened in 2008, entitled "A Dubliner's Collection of Asian Art - The Albert Bender Exhibition." This exhibition displays the material donated by Bender to the National Museum of Ireland during the 1930s. This exhibition is on display at the National Museum's Decorative Arts & History site at Collins Barracks, Dublin.[6]


  1. ^ California, Death Index, 1940-1997
  2. ^ Katherine Field Caldwell, "An American Patron," The Magazine of Art, August 1938, pp. 211-215.
  3. ^ Ansel Adams, An Autobiography, pp. 64-77. ISBN 0-8212-2241-4
  4. ^ Oscar Lewis, To Remember Albert M. (Micky) Bender: Notes for a Biography (San Francisco: R. Grabhorn & A. Hoyem, 1973), p. 20.
  5. ^ Rosenbaum, Fred (2009). Cosmopolitans: A social and cultural history of the Jews of the San Francisco Bay Area. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. pp. 263–265. ISBN 978-0-520-25913-3.
  6. ^ "A Dubliner's Collection of Asian Art: The Albert Bender Exhibition". National Museum of Ireland. 2008. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved August 14, 2011.

Additional Resources

  • The Bender Papers in the F.W. Olin Library, Mills College, consist of 5,344 items, including letters from many of the prominent authors of the day. Some 675 of these items are available on microfilm at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.
  • The Albert Bender Papers in the Special Collections department of the Green Library at Stanford University preserves a smaller collection that includes letters, Bender's handwritten will and funeral instructions leaving everything to "my dearest & best-beloved Anne Bremer," and his collection of autographs of musical composers and performers.
  • Ann Harlow, "Albert Bender: Artists' Patron 'Saint,'" Argonaut (San Francisco Museum and Historical Society) 19:2 (Winter 2008), pp. 60-75.
  • San Francisco Biographies, 1931 [1]
Albert Bender

Albert Bender may refer to:

Albert M. Bender (1866–1941), patron of the arts in San Francisco

Albert K. Bender (1921–2016), author and UFOlogist

Alfredo Ramos Martínez

Alfredo Ramos Martínez (November 12, 1871 in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico – November 8, 1946 in Los Angeles) was a painter, muralist, and educator, who lived and worked in Mexico, Paris, and Los Angeles. Considered by many to be the 'Father of Mexican Modernism', Ramos Martínez is best known for his serene and empathetic paintings of traditional Mexican people and scenes. As the renowned Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío wrote, "Ramos Martínez is one of those who paints poems; he does not copy, he interprets; he understands how to express the sorrow of the fisherman and the melancholy of the village.”

Ansel Adams

Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984) was an American landscape photographer and environmentalist known for his black-and-white images of the American West.

Adams helped found the anti-pictorialist Group f/64, an association of photographers advocating "pure" photography that favored sharp focus and the use of the full tonal range of a photograph.

With Fred Archer, Adams developed an exacting system of image-making called the Zone System, which described a method of achieving a desired final print through a deeply technical understanding of how tonal range is recorded and developed in exposure, negative development, and printing. The resulting clarity and depth of such images characterized his photography.

Adams was a life-long advocate for environmental conservation, and his photographic practice was deeply entwined with this advocacy. At age 12, he was given his first camera during his first visit to Yosemite National Park. He developed his early photographic work as a member of the Sierra Club. He was later contracted with the U.S. Department of the Interior to make photographs of U.S. National Parks; his work and his persistent advocacy helped expand the National Park system.

With trustee David H. McAlpin and curator Beaumont Newhall, Adams was a key advisor in establishing the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, an important landmark in securing photography's institutional legitimacy. He helped to stage that department's first photography exhibition, helped found the photography magazine Aperture, and co-founded the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona.

Book Club of California

The Book Club of California is a non-profit membership organization of bibliophiles based in San Francisco, operating continuously since 1912. Its mission is to support the art of fine printing related to the history and literature of California and the western states of America through research, publishing, public programs, and exhibitions. It is the largest book collector's club in the United States, with more than 800 members nationwide.

California Society of Printmakers

The California Society of Printmakers (CSP) is the oldest continuously operating association of printmakers and friends of printmakers in the United States. CSP is a non-profit arts organization with an international membership of print artists and supporters of the art of fine printmaking. CSP promotes professional development and opportunity for printmakers, and educates artists and the public about printmaking. New members are admitted by portfolio review. Friends and supporters of printmaking are admitted by fee. They are based in San Francisco, California.

Civilian Conservation Corps

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men. Originally for young men ages 18–25, it was eventually expanded to ages 17–28. Robert Fechner was the first director of the agency, succeeded by James McEntee following Fechner's death. The CCC was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal that provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state, and local governments. The CCC was designed to provide jobs for young men and to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression in the United States. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000. Through the course of its nine years in operation, 3 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a wage of $30 (about $570 in 2017) per month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families).

The American public made the CCC the most popular of all the New Deal programs. Sources written at the time claimed an individual's enrollment in the CCC led to improved physical condition, heightened morale, and increased employability. The CCC also led to a greater public awareness and appreciation of the outdoors and the nation's natural resources, and the continued need for a carefully planned, comprehensive national program for the protection and development of natural resources.Enrollees of the CCC planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America; constructed trails, lodges, and related facilities in more than 800 parks nationwide; and upgraded most state parks, updated forest fire fighting methods, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways in remote areas.

The CCC operated separate programs for veterans and Native Americans. Approximately 15,000 Native Americans participated in the program, helping them weather the Great Depression.Despite its popular support, the CCC was not a permanent agency. It depended on emergency and temporary Congressional legislation and funding to operate. By 1942, with World War II and the draft in operation, the need for work relief declined, and Congress voted to close the program.

Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith (January 13, 1893 – August 14, 1961) was a self-educated American poet, sculptor, painter and author of fantasy, horror and science fiction short stories. He achieved early local recognition, largely through the enthusiasm of George Sterling, for traditional verse in the vein of Swinburne. As a poet, Smith is grouped with the West Coast Romantics alongside Joaquin Miller, Sterling, and Nora May French and remembered as "The Last of the Great Romantics" and "The Bard of Auburn". Smith's work was praised by his contemporaries. H. P. Lovecraft stated that "in sheer daemonic strangeness and fertility of conception, Clark Ashton Smith is perhaps unexcelled", and Ray Bradbury said that Smith "filled my mind with incredible worlds, impossibly beautiful cities, and still more fantastic creatures".Smith was one of "the big three of Weird Tales, with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft", but some readers objected to his morbidness and violation of pulp traditions. The fantasy critic L. Sprague de Camp said of him that "nobody since Poe has so loved a well-rotted corpse." Smith was a member of the Lovecraft circle and his literary friendship with Lovecraft lasted from 1922 until Lovecraft's death in 1937. His work is marked by an extraordinarily rich and ornate vocabulary, a cosmic perspective and a vein of sardonic and sometimes ribald humor.

Of his writing style, Smith stated: "My own conscious ideal has been to delude the reader into accepting an impossibility, or series of impossibilities, by means of a sort of verbal black magic, in the achievement of which I make use of prose-rhythm, metaphor, simile, tone-color, counter-point, and other stylistic resources, like a sort of incantation."

Cornel Lengyel

Cornel Adam Lengyel (January 2, 1914 – March 12, 2003) was an American poet, historian, playwright and translator. He received the Maxwell Anderson Award in 1950 for his play The Atom Clock.

What would a writer convey through his work? His vision of life: his response to the oddity, terror, humor, beauty, pathos, or grandeur of experience. He would renew our original sense of wonder at the mystery of things and speak in a human voice fittingly of man's mortal adventures amid the immortal dance of the elements.

— Cornel Adam

Cornel Adam (Lengyel) was born in Fairfield, Connecticut, in 1915. In 1920, his family moved to Budafok, Hungary. Cornel became fluent in Magyar. In 1922, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. In 1925, his family moved to Hollywood.

In 1930, he won a $500 award for his prize essay on Les Miserables in an international competition. In 1933, his first book of poems Thirty Pieces was published. These early successes set the stage for a life of poetry and letters. He said, much later in life, “The most improbable, impractical thing I can think of is being a poet. Yet I am still writing poetry. It's like an adolescent vice. It persists through life.”

In 1935, his first poetic drama The World's My Village won the Berkeley Playcrafters Production Prize and was later published in Poet Lore. From 1937, as playwright for the Federal Theatre, his Bridge-Builders was performed with chorus and symphony at the Veterans' Auditorium in San Francisco. In 1939 and 1940 he worked for the WPA on the History of Music in San Francisco series.

During World War Two he served in several capacities: with the U. S. Office of Censorship, in the Uncommon Language Department, as chief examiner for a year; as shipwright in the Kaiser Shipyards, he helped build the world’s fastest constructed Liberty vessel, the Robert E. Peary. He was active as staff officer in the U. S. Merchant Marine. While overseas, he won the Maritime Poetry Award, first prize in an international contest; the late William Rose Benet read his verse over CBS.

In 1945, he was recipient of the Albert M. Bender Literary Award for a group of two dozen short stories. He worked as a fire lookout and, in July 1945, saw the refracted light from the first atomic test. In 1946, he fled the city for eighty acres in the woods of El Dorado Forest near Georgetown, California. In 1950, his poetic drama The Atom Clock won the Maxwell Anderson Award. Selections of the play were featured in the Saturday Review of Literature. In 1951 (and again in 1963), he was awarded a Resident Fellowship in Literature at the Huntington Hartford Foundation in Pacific Palisades.

From 1952 to 1954 he worked as an editor for the W.H. Freeman company. From 1962 to 1963, he was a visiting lecturer at Sacramento State. In 1967, he was a MacDowell Colony resident. From 1968 to 1969, he was a writer in residence at Hamline University, St. Paul. In 1969, he was an Ossabaw Island Foundation fellow, and also a guest lecturer at MIT. In 1969, he founded Dragon's Teeth Press and continued as executive editor, publishing works of poetry, fiction, and plays. In 1971, he was awarded the Castagnola prize from the Poetry Society of America for the in-progress Latter Day Psalms. In 1976, he was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.

He continued to write poetry, history, and philosophical essays. He also continued to publish the works of other poets and writers in Dragon's Teeth Press. He died in 2003.

Dody Weston Thompson

Dody Weston Thompson (April 11, 1923 – October 14, 2012) was a 20th-century American photographer and chronicler of the history and craft of photography. She learned the art in 1947 and developed her own expression of “straight” or realistic photography, the style that emerged in Northern California in the 1930s. Dody worked closely with contemporary icons Edward Weston (her former father-in-law), Brett Weston (her former husband) and Ansel Adams (as an assistant and a friend) during the late 1940s and through the 1950s, with additional collaboration with Brett Weston in the 1980s.

Dody was invited in 1949 to artistically participate with the remaining members of the photographic organization Group f/64, a bastion of the emerging West Coast Photographic Movement. In 1950, she was also one of the founding members of the non-profit organization that published the photographic journal Aperture in 1952, to which she was also a contributor. In 1952, she was co-awarded the prestigious Albert M. Bender Award (known informally in the West as the “Little Guggenheim”) which financed a year's work in photography. Her camera work is represented in dozens of museums and private collections as well as in many photographic books and magazines. She also participated in multiple solo and group exhibitions from 1948 through 2006 in the United States and Japan.

Dody penned commentary on the history of photography and on the techniques of contemporary photographers, focusing on the artistic legacies of Edward Weston and his son Brett Weston. Her articles appeared in many photography books and journals from 1949 through 2003. Her skill in literary criticism was highlighted in her chapter on the novelist Pearl S. Buck in the 1968 book American Winners of the Nobel Literary Prize.

Frieda and Diego Rivera

Frieda and Diego Rivera (Frieda y Diego Rivera in Spanish) is a 1931 oil painting by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. This portrait was created two years after Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera married, and is widely considered a wedding portrait.The painting shows Kahlo standing next to her husband and fellow artist, Rivera. Rivera, portrayed as a painter, holds a palette and four brushes in his right hand while Kahlo tilts her head towards him. Both are looking out toward the viewer, unsmiling. Kahlo holds her bright red shawl with her left hand. Rivera and Kahlo hold hands in the center of the portrait. Rivera is physically much larger than Kahlo. The pigeon in the upper righthand corner carries a banner that reads: “Here you see us, me Frieda Kahlo, with my dearest husband Diego Rivera. I painted these pictures in the delightful city of San Francisco California for our companion Mr. Albert Bender, and it was in the month of April of the year 1931.” The work had been commissioned by Albert M. Bender, an art collector and supporter of Rivera.

There are many interpretations of the work. Hayden Herrera, author of Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo, interprets the work simply as Kahlo depicting herself as the wife of the great artist, Rivera. Other authors, such as Margaret Lindauer, investigate the larger context in which the work was created. The banner is supportive of Lindauer’s interpretation because it places Kahlo in the producer/professional artist role.

The painting is currently located at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) in San Francisco, California. It was gifted to the collection in 1937 by the Albert M. Bender Collection.

George Sterling

George Sterling (December 1, 1869 – November 17, 1926) was an American poet and playwright based in California who, during his lifetime, was celebrated on the Pacific coast as one of the great American poets, although he never gained equivalent success in the rest of the United States.

Jane Bissell Grabhorn

Jane Bissell Grabhorn (1911–1973) was an American artist, typographer, bookbinder, and printer.

Joseph Raphael

Joseph Raphael (1869–1950) was an American Impressionist painter who spent most of his career as an expatriate but maintained close ties with the artistic community of San Francisco, California.

Mills College Art Museum

Mills College Art Museum is a museum and art gallery in Oakland, California.

The originally all-girls' school Mills College was founded by Susan and Cyrus Mills, who were both interested in art and history. Susan's sister Jane Tolman was an art historian who developed the art history curriculum in 1875. With a Tolman Mills bequest the present museum building was constructed in 1925 called the Mills College Art Gallery. Albert M. Bender, the Mills College Trustee chiefly responsible for the museum's completion, also made a gift of 40 paintings and 75 prints by contemporary San Francisco Bay Area artists, and since then the gallery has become an important public collection of modern art in Northern California. Bender himself later became a principal founder of what is now the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Morris Graves

Morris Graves (August 28, 1910 – May 5, 2001) was an American painter. He was one of the earliest Modern artists from the Pacific Northwest to achieve national and international acclaim. His style, referred to by some reviewers as Mysticism, used the muted tones of the Northwest environment, Asian aesthetics and philosophy, and a personal iconography of birds, flowers, chalices, and other images to explore the nature of consciousness.

An article in a 1953 issue of Life magazine cemented Graves' reputation as a major figure of the 'Northwest School' of artists. He lived and worked mostly in Western Washington, but spent considerable time traveling and living in Europe and Asia, and spent the last several years of his life in Loleta, California.

Rowena Meeks Abdy

Rowena Fischer Meeks Abdy (April 24, 1887 – August 18, 1945) was an American modernist painter. She primarily painted landscapes and worked in Northern California.

San Francisco Art Association

The San Francisco Art Association (SFAA) was an organization that promoted California artists, held art exhibitions, published a periodical, and established the first art school west of Chicago. The SFAA - which, by 1961, completed a long sequence of mission shifts and re-namings to become the San Francisco Art Institute - was the predecessor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Over its lifetime, the association helped establish a Northern California regional flavor of California Tonalism as differentiated from Southern California American Impressionism.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is a modern art museum located in San Francisco, California. A nonprofit organization, SFMOMA holds an internationally recognized collection of modern and contemporary art, and was the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th-century art. The museum's current collection includes over 33,000 works of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design, and media arts. They are displayed in 170,000 square feet (16,000 m2) of exhibition space, making the museum one of the largest in the United States overall, and one of the largest in the world for modern and contemporary art.SFMOMA reopened on May 14, 2016, following a major three-year-long expansion project. The expansion more than doubles the museum's gallery spaces and provides almost six times as much public space as the previous building, allowing SFMOMA to showcase an expanded collection along with the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection of contemporary art.

Taos Pueblo (book)

Taos Pueblo is a book by Ansel Adams and Mary Hunter Austin. Originally published in 1930, it is the first book of Adams' photographs. A seminal work in his career, it marks the beginning of a transition from his earlier pictorialist style to his signature sharp-focused images of the Western landscape. Because of the quality of the images and its place in the development of Adams' style, it has been described as "an astonishingly poignant…masterpiece" and "the greatest pictorial representation of the American West."

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