Mordi Gasner, Science-Subject Mural Panels: Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Physics
Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Geology,
Charcoal and Sanguine Chalk on Paper, Mounted on Linen
Variable: 6 x 9 to 11 x 12 feet
Mordi Gassner was born Mordeca Gassner, in Manhattan, in 1899. Gassner attended the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences (later Parsons School of Design), the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts, and the Art Students League, NY.
Just out of art school and in his early twenties, Gassner arrived in Los Angeles. There he worked with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks on films such as The Thief of Baghdad. Back in New York he was married to the dancer Augusta Klausner, in 1926.
Guggenheim Fellowships in 1929 and 1930 allowed Gassner to work in Florence, Italy; it was there his daughter, Judith, was born. In Italy he created an extensive series, the Mural Monument to Modern Culture; the individual panels were Raphael, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, The Poet Petrarch, Archaeology/Anthropology, and Astronomy. They were exhibited in their entirety at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, in 1932, and later sections were shown at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the Academy of Art, Richmond, Virginia, and the Museum of Modern Art, NY. Five panels were installed at the Dibner Building, Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, NY, in 2001.
After his return to New York from Italy in 1931, Gassner made numerous commissions and portraits. He was on the mural division of the Works Progress Administration and made a mural for the Long Island Court House. He also made the Post Office murals in Oxford, NY, and those at the Temple House and Granada Hotel, both in Brooklyn.
During World War II Gassner designed and illustrated manuals for the Army Signal Corp. In the late 1940s he began a career of stage and costume design that lasted into the 1970s. Also in the 1950s and into the 60s he taught painting, the history of art, and scenic design and lighting at the New School and the Art Students League. In the 1970s Gassner moved to Drakes Branch, Virginia, where he died in 1995. The exhibition, Mordi Gassner, Paintings, Prints, and Unique Works on Paper, 1924 to 1951, was held at the Susan Teller Gallery, December, 2002.