Written by: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

Today, we celebrate artist Reuben Kadish, who was born on this day in 1913. Reuben is known for his work as a sculptor, painter, muralist and printmaker. In honor of his birthday, here are five fun facts about him.


Photo provided by Facebook.

1. Reuben’s family had Russian roots

Although Reuben was born in Chicago, his parents were immigrants from Kovno in Czarist Russia (what is now Lithuania). He and his family later moved to Los Angeles when Reuben was 7 years old.

2. He established himself as a political activist at a young age

As a young man in pre-revolutionary Russia, Reuben’s father was heavily involved with a Marxist-oriented political party. Reuben was inspired by his dad’s passion and, while a teenager himself, led a rally protesting against the U.S. Marine presence in Nicaragua—which resulted in him getting kicked out of his high school.

3. Reuben formed friendships with other prominent artists

In 1930, while attending the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, Reuben met Philip Goldstein (known as Philip Guston from 1935 onwards) and Jackson Pollock. The trio eventually experienced huge success in the art world – and, still remained friends. (Reuben’s oldest son even ended up marrying Philip’s daughter.)

4. At one point, he left the art world to pursue a career in dairy farming

Tired of the stress and financial toll of living in New York City, Reuben bought a run-down, 40-acre farm in New Jersey. Despite becoming a successful dairy farmer, he later regretted giving up art during this time. His farm was later destroyed by a fire in the late 1940s.

5. Later down the road, Reuben became a teacher

After the fire on his farm, Reuben returned to New York City. He began teaching art at the Newark School of Fine Art and Industrial Design, the Brooklyn Museum of Art School and the Cooper Union in Manhattan.

Visit the David Owsley Museum of Art today to view Kadish’s terra cotta sculpture, along with the rest of our vast collection.


Reuben Kadish. Untitled, 1960-1969. Terra cotta. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of the Reuben Kadish Foundation, 2002.022.002