AMERICAN, BORN 1917
Manuel Bromberg attracted early attention when in 1940 he won a commission for a Works Progress Administration post office mural, and his design appeared with others in LIFE magazine. Three years later the War Department sent him abroad to document the fighting in sketches and paintings, for which he was awarded a Citation for the Legion of Merit. After the war he abandoned figurative painting and adopted a hard-edge abstract style. During the 1950s Bromberg was closely associated with Buckminster Fuller and his early explorations of geodesic domes. In the early 1960s he experimented with painting and cutting plaster for mural work. One nine-hundred-foot mural in Teaneck, New Jersey, produced in 1963, was surfaced in ten thousand pounds of cement, which was applied by union plasterers.
Bromberg became a professor at the State University College at New Paltz, New York, in 1961, and in 1968 received a grant from the university to cast a twenty-two-foot-high polyester and fiberglass cliff in the Catskill Mountains. Bromberg presented one fifteen-foot section of the cliff to the college in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. Storm King acquired the second section. Now the artist’s best-known work, Catskill demonstrates an early concern for environmental issues, while also reflecting the Romantic painting heritage of the Hudson River.