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Nat Mayer Shapiro

Nat Mayer Shapiro was born in New York City in 1919 and spent his childhood and adolescence in Brooklyn. He was 10 when he decided he would be an artist and started attending the after-school programs at Pratt Institute. Inducted in the army in 1941, he was sent with the Medical Corps to Australia and New Guinea where he spent most of his four years and half of military life. Upon his return to the States, he spent eight months in the R&R (Rest & Rehabilitation) Center in Lake Placid, NY, where he was finally able to work as an artist, painting stage sets, portraits and landscapes. In 1945, the War Department acquired some of Nat’s artwork for the then-planned War Museum.

Back into civilian life, Nat worked as a commercial artist while attending classes at the Art Students League in New York City. In 1951, married and father of two children, he moved to Chicago where he started discovering himself as a fine artist. An adventurous personality, curious of other worlds, of other cultures, and of other artistic trends, he moved with his family to Europe and settled in France. Surrounded by a historical cultural heritage, by magnificent architecture, by old and contemporary works of art, Nat’s artistic creation blossomed out. He tried different media, different techniques, different artistic outlets; the result was a variety of mature, original, sometimes powerful, sometimes whimsical works.

His various trips were of great influence and inspiration: the vaults of Byzantine churches, the mosaics of Ravenna, a Moroccan holy city. Nat had several exhibits while in France: Paris, Asnières, Marly-le-Roy, Auch. The French Ministry of Culture bought two of his works: a painting, Pandora’s Box, now hanging in the French Embassy in Oslo and The Wall, a very large, beautiful sculpture.

In 1985, Nat returned to New York to reconnect with his roots and his past. He settled in Westchester and joined a group of artists who wanted to open a cooperative gallery. He was instrumental in locating, setting up and launching the new gallery, even found a great name for it: Upstream. When the gallery had to close, Nat persisted in regrouping the artists, in looking for a new space, in ascertaining that the new gallery would be a high-quality meeting of the arts. He was its president and an inspiration to his fellow members from 1995 to 2002. In addition to several exhibits at Upstream, Nat had shows in New York City, in Pisa (Italy), in Bologna (Italy) and his work was being acquired by prestigious collectors, such as Pfizer Learning Center, and private patrons in France, UK, USA, Gambia, Uganda, and Argentina.

Nat Shapiro passed away in December 2005.

A dynamic and athletic person, Nat loved golf and tennis and excelled in fencing, winning several gold and silver medals in this discipline. Having obtained a Prevost diploma from the French Sports Institute, for many years he taught fencing to children and adults in France and in the New York region, at SUNY Purchase and CCNY.

Through all his artistic life Nat pursued his quest for depth, for a third dimension. He was fascinated by the infinity of the universe which he so beautifully depicted in his black and white 72”×202” (183 cm × 513 cm) canvas, titled The Universe. In the Galaxy series, he interpreted a very complex world in a simple, happy and light mood. In another series, Kites, different-shaped kites are floating, dancing in their surroundings. Whether they are whimsical or serious, strictly organized or loose, Nat’s works are never grim or stifled, they are joyful, they are dancing. They reflect the man who loved life, loved art and always looked forward, exploring various techniques to create something new, different and, for him, unusual.

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