Sigmund Morton Abeles was born in New York City in 1934. When Sigmund was just two years old, his parents separated and he moved with his mother to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Abeles received no art instruction in school, however, he credits the articles on artists featured in Life magazine as a major source of inspiration. He studied drawings from art books and practiced sketching daily. Searching for inspiration in Myrtle Beach, Abeles found Brookgreen Gardens, an outdoor sculpture museum, which provided him with a multitude of beautiful bronze and marble figures to sketch.
While a student at the University of South Carolina, Abeles attended the Art Students League in New York in the summer of 1954. The following year he had his first solo exhibition at the Florence Museum of Art in Florence, South Carolina. After attending the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine in 1955, he moved to New York City and entered the MFA program at Columbia University. Shortly after graduating, Abeles was drafted into the Army and returned to South Carolina once again; this time for basic training at Fort Jackson in Columbia. Following his military service, Abeles embarked on his career as an art educator. He worked at various institutions in the Northeast, and in 1987 he resigned his teaching position at the University of New Hampshire to work in his studio full time.
Abeles’ art is highly charged with emotion. He favors the human form in his drawings, paintings and sculptures saying, “In my art the depiction of the human form is everything.” Abeles likes to tell stories through his art and attempts to connect to the universal experience by tapping into different aspects of the human condition. Abeles never shies away from reality, but rather embraces it by grappling with the tragedies, as well as the joys, of life. His artistic philosophy was revealed when he said that intensity, honesty, and empathy are of the utmost importance in his art. In 1976 he wrote, “I constantly seek for a corner to peel back the surface layers, hoping to reveal a bit more than single view point vision.”