Seeing the World like Ira Kaufman published in Gallery and Studio

Posted by Jonathan Hemley on 23rd Nov 2021

Seeing the World like Ira Kaufman

   Ira Kaufman has a unique vision of the world and wants to be sure to convey his vision.Ira hates platitudes. Ira could have been very, very successful as a businessman. However, his primary goal is to be successful as an artist. He has relentlessly followed that path.Ira lost his parents at an early age. His Aunt Ann raised him. She tried to encourage his artistic desire and talent.However, she thought he should be practical and go into commercial art. This ran counter to Ira’s instinct. He sees art as a semi-religious venture. I, myself, understand this perspective.My own family are writers and artists.My parents were writers and publishers. They published and translated Isaac Singer, the Nobel Prize winner. Singer was surprised that I became an engineer instead of a writer. However, he told my mother that being an engineer is more practical.Adolph Gottlieb also is a cousin of mine who was jokingly referred to as “the starving artist '' by my family until his work began to fetch enormous amounts of money. Ira feels that artists need to be honest and unique,

Ira is not only semi-religious as an artist.He is a real Breslaver Chasid. Ira was born in Brooklyn but now lives in Israel. The Chassidic movement was started in Eastern Europe by the Baal Shem Tov .Rebbe Nachman of Breslau was the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. The Breslauer Hasidim believe in serving God with joy.They also believe in learning and scholarship.

Ira’s Family Background

Ira was born in 1943 and grew up in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn.His parents were Dora and Jack Kaufman, Both sides were originally from Belarus.Dora was a manager at a “zipper hospital” However, she died when Ira was only 7 from leukemiia. Jack was a letter carrier who died from heart problems when Ira was 17. He delivered to Chelsea which is the artists’ quarter. Ira theorizes that the art talent was transferred with the mail.After Jack’s death, Ira lived with his Aunt Ann who was a hobby painter and encouraged Ira’s talent. She took him to art museums.

Education and Early Work

Ira took little interest in school.He would draw all day.He then enrolled in the School of Visual Arts.He got married at 19 and went to work as a handyman. He used to buy high quality paints . He turned his living room into a studio..All his free time was spent painting. It came to the point where Ira was happy with his work. He decided to look for an outlet to display and sell his paintings,

10th Street Galleries

On Sunday, Ira would canvas the city to look for the proper venue. He found the 10th Street Galleries in Greenwich Village to fit the bill.Ira applied to and was rejected by each one.Ira left the Brata Gallery for last. He considered the Brata to be the best.However, he was accepted by the Brata!. Ira was not so aware of the various art movements at that time but gravitated to figurative expressionism and has since remained in that sphere. Artists at the Brata Gallery would have one one man shown per year, Ira had his first one in 1965 when he was in his twenties. He was shocked that his art sold, His work was favorably reviewed by Art News by Ted Berrigan. Ira had another show in 1966 that was also reviewed very positively by Peter Schjeldahl in Art News. Ira then went on to work with Alan Stone and John Hoffa The Rhino Horn artists were in this group. John decided to resign as director of the gallery and Ira took over. Ira had to deal with numerous problems including the New York transit strike. Ira was friends with the famous commercial artist, Peter Max, who Ira felt had real talent but was very flippant and nihilistic about everything. Ira was also good friends with Ed McCormick, the founder of Gallery and Studio.

By 1970 Ira took his family to Israel. He had two little kids at that time and felt New York was not the place for them. Elaine De Koioning whose father was Jewish told Ira that Israel was really where they all wanted to be.

Ira doesn’t see himself as a follower of one particular genre. He likes to see his works as true

To himself. The great art critic and painter, John Graham, asks in his seminal work, System and Dialectics of Art, why does an artist create?. Graham answers out of a feeling of suffering. In Kaufman’s case, this relates directly to his early loss of his parents and consequent nostalgia.

Flight to Israel and Culture Shock

Ira was very disillusioned by the socialism in Israel when he got there. He really disliked socialism in Israel. . It took seven years to overcome a creative block.

The Mechanic Artist as car mechanic

Ira is not the only talented artist to work a side job, He had to support his family so he worked as a car mechanic.Rothko worked as an elementary school teacher, Rousseau as a tax collector and Jackson Pollack as a babysitter so Ira was in good company.r


To infer I'm continuing a particular way, trend, intent, or theory would be false. The cave wall painters at Lascaux painted that which burned within.A million particulars which occupied their intellect. I desire such in my paintings. If I've conveyed myself I've truly painted. I paint figurative expressionism, but that's just a round hole to fit a round peg.


Ira might get depressed but he rarely shows it. He often jokes and even memorizes involved jokes to display his wit. In fact, Ira once considered working at The Comedy Club.

However, his wife put a stop to that.Breslauer Chassidim like Ira try to serve God with joy. Ira is always true to his both his art and religion[