Norman Raeben

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Norman Raeben (1901 – 12 December 1978) was an American painter.

He was born in Eastern Ukraine (then in Russian Empire), the youngest of the six children of Yiddish author Sholom Aleichem, whose most famous character Tevye the Milkman gave the blueprint for the musical Fiddler on the Roof. The pen-name 'Raeben' is probably derived from his family-name 'Rabinowitz'.

Raeben moved to New York City with his family in 1914. He studied painting from Robert Henri, George Luks and John French Sloan, who all belonged to the Ashcan School. His studio was on the 11th floor of Carnegie Hall.

His students include Bob Dylan, Bernice Sokol Kramer, Carolyn Schlam, Andrew Gottlieb, Janet Cohn, John Smith-Amato, Diana Postel, Lori Lerner and Rosalyn (Roz) Jacobs and the photographer, Larry Herman. Raeben's mission was to teach the art of painting through intuition and feeling, instead of through conceptualization. During the seventies, his inspiring lessons ran counter to the then prevalent conceptualism of contemporary mainstream art. Bob Dylan was mystified, at first, by Norman's didactic insistence on perceptual honesty, i.e. on not exaggerating the truth of what was seen, when first learning the basics of drawing.

"Bob", Norman said, "look at that round coffee table. Now, show me how you would paint it."

He died of a heart attack in the lobby of his apartment.

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