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The Art of Betty Braverman: Sep 2 1917 - Nov 2 1955

Betty Wolf (nee Braverman) - Self Portrait - Oil on Stretched Canvas - 16" x 20" - 1946

The paintings and other artwork on this web site are the work of Betty Braverman, most likely created during the period she was a student at the University of Iowa between 1934 and 1938. Most of the people depicted in these works are unknown and we'd like to discover who they are. The people you see here were likely models, students, or other people who lived in Iowa City during this time period; or possibly faculty, university workers, family friends, or others. Betty Braverman served as the society editor of the Daily Iowan newspaper while at the University, and was a member of and Sigma Delta Tau sorority and Phi Beta Kappa. Betty Braverman began studying art as a child and some of the works here appear to pre-date her period at the University of Iowa (1934-1938). Grant Wood, one of the most famous American artists of the 20th century, joined the art faculty of University of Iowa in 1934, the year Betty Braverman enrolled as first-year student. Family members and ex-faculty of the university tell us that Betty Braverman did study under, and/or have work judged by, Grant Wood.

If you can help identify someone in these paintings please email. Most of these paintings have mostly been stored away for the last 75 years and it's time to bring them to light and try and connect them to people and events of their time. Betty Braverman was born and raised in Iowa City, daughter of Sarah and Joseph Braverman, who resided at 419 E. Washington. After her death on November 2, 1955 these paintings and other art works were stored and kept together for nearly 75 years. A few paintings of known individuals (her parents and children) are not shown here and are in the possession of family members. More works will be added to this web site as we get them photographed and arranged. You can click on the images below to see them somewhat enlarged. If you recognize a face please let us know. We're fascinated by these people, their appearance and expressions. We'd like to know more. Also please email if you'd like to get updates as we improve this site with more artworks and information.

Thanks to archival research at University of Iowa (with the help of Mr. David McCartney and Nathan Wolf) and discussions with family members, we're beginning to uncover more biographical information about the artistic career of Betty Braverman. We now have the University of Iowa transcript and a list of her art teachers at University of Iowa, several of whom were famous and accomplished artists. We also will be adding more biographical information about her artistic endeavors after graduating in 1938 including study in New York and at the Dayton (Ohio) Art Institute in 1944-45. In addition we've made some progress identifying and finding some of the people who are named in the sketch book. We've also turned up more art, some of which has been recently added here (see below) and more is coming soon.

Oil on Stretched Canvas - Aaron Wolf - 16" x 20" - 1945

Oil on Board - 20" x 24" - ca. 1934-1940

Oil on Board - 14" x 18" - ca. 1934-1940

Oil on Board - Still Life - 14" x 18" and 20" x 24" - ca. 1934-1940

Oil on Board - Figures - 14" x 18" and 20" x 24" - ca. 1934-1940

Pastel - ca. 1934-1938
Again with the following groups of images we would like to learn whom they depict. The large format paper drawings below are dated and likely done in classes so the models might be recognizable. Likewise it would be nice to know if the sculptural objects below are part of a museum collection at UI.

Publication Designs - 1937 - Light Subjects - Watercolor and Pencil
The whimsical New Yorker-style magazine cover design is in watercolor, 11" x 14". It was remarkable to discover the original pencil drawing study for the November, 1937 Frivol magazine cover has survived all this time, about 9" x 11" and somewhat reduced for the final cover. Frivol was published from about 1919 to 1951 as a humor, entertainment, and literary magazine by University of Iowa students. We're hoping to find other illustrations she may have created for Frivol magazine in addition to this published cover art.

Publication Illustrations - Humorous Cartoon Styles - Monochrome, as published - 1939

In addition to the watercolor and pencil-drawing magazine-cover designs above, there is a 32-page booklet published for women students at University of Iowa in 1939, entitled "Code For Coeds" that contains a number of cartoon style monochrome illustrations. The University of Iowa Alumni Magazine had a small feature on this old, and now quaint, guide for women in February of 2011 and we were able to obtain a scan of the entire booklet with the help of University of Iowa's archivists. Here, with permission of University of Iowa and not for further reproduction, are the actual individual illustrations that have been extracted from the scanned pages to view directly and followed by the full scanned pages so you can see the illustrations in context and read the entire text of this fun little booklet. The booklet's illustrations develop a recognizable young lady character with curly hair who appears in many of the little cartoons in various whimsical situations of college life. Our heroine isn't named but we might call her 'Cathy Coed'.

Life Drawings on Artist Paper - 1933-1935 - 10" x 12" to 19" x 25" - some With exact dates, in sequence
The first of these appears to be an early self-portrait, in pencil, on spiral notebook paper (about 10.5 x 11.5"), unsigned and undated, likely ca. 1932-1933. The second of these, dated August 22, 1933 is almost certainly a young woman named Angely Larson, perhaps a friend or classmate at IC high school. We would like to find out more about her.

Sculptural Figure Drawings on Artist Paper - 1934-1935 - 19" x 25" - With exact dates, in sequence

Sculptural Figure Drawings on Artist Paper - 19" x 25" - Possibly pre-1934, signed 'Betty'- undated

Life Figure Monochrome Watercolor on Paper - 11" x 17" - Possibly ca. 1933-1934, unsigned and undated

Advertising and Fashion - Watercolor and Mixed Media/Collage - ca. 1934-1938
These works might likely have been class assignments but it is possible some designs were used for real ads, as we see some 'named' department stores. If you have information about these please let us know. Some appear to have 'placed' and perhaps that was in a competition or the piece was actually used in a published ad. One additional sketch study accompanies this group, in pencil, of a person who is named on the sketch - Jerry Bladen. It appears to be a fashion sketch study, undated and unsigned.

Graphic Design and Architectural - Airbrush, India Ink, Watercolor and Tempera - ca. 1934-1938

Sketchbook - 6" x 8" Pencil Drawings - 1935-1940 - Family and Friends
Left to Right: Sarah Knitting - Naomi (2)

Left to Right: Betty Ann (3)

Left to Right: Annette - Beverly Ann - Stanley - Miriam - Israel

Sketchbook - 6" x 8" Pencil Drawings - 1935-1940 - Various Individuals
Left to Right: Harriett Merritt - Deborah Levi Maxon (2)

Left to Right: Thomas Nickols - Miriam Lewin - Daniel Lewin

Sketchbook - Pencil Drawings - Students and Faculty - Speech Contest 1935-6
Left to Right: Chauncey Fay - Bernard Alden - Ansel Chapman - H. Clay Harshbarger - Pan Statue at UI

Sketchbook - Pencil Drawings - The Grinnell Institute - June, 1936

The Grinnell Institute was a summer program at Grinnell College in June of 1936. The topics addressed by visiting speakers were the foreign affairs state of the world at that anxious time of economic distress and looming world conflict. Betty Braverman sketched portraits of several others in attendance and some of the institute faculty and speakers. A program for the event was kindly provided by the archivists at Grinnell College. Among the speakers, and shown in portrait sketches here, were F. W. Norwood and J. Emlyn Williams. You may view a PDF scan of the program:
Complete Grinnell Institute Program
Special thanks to Grinnell College.

Left to Right: Ben Charrington - F. W. Norwood - J. Emlyn Williams - James Stephens - Tully Friedman - Dorothy Marks
Some of these sketches were autographed by the subject and some are dated.

Early Childhood Work - Pencil and Watercolor - Early 1928 (age 10)
These works are remarkable in that they survive from Betty Braverman's grade school days and show she was already gifted with artistic skill at a very early age. These four works are also all dated to specific days from January 2, 1928 (far left, design) to March 22, 1928 (the vase at far right), and indicate she was in the fifth grade at the time. The two watercolors at right were painted only a few days apart and exploit identical palettes, inverted in the sense of background and subject, and show the elaboration of highlights and shadows on the lemon and vase. The design at left is also geometrically sophisticated and symmetrical, with the appearance of an influence of North American Indian beadwork.

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More art works will be added - come back soon.