Biographical / Historical
J. B. (Jsrael Ber) Neumann (1887-1961) was a gallery director, art dealer and publisher. After immigrating to the U.S., Neumann founded the New Art Circle Gallery in New York City. Before then, he had art galleries in Berlin, Munich, Dusseldorf and Bremen, Germany.
J. B. Neumann was born in Austria in 1887. His father was an oil and lumber dealer. Neumann initially studied business but later apprenticed to a book and picture dealer when he was nineteen. While working as a clerk in a large bookstore in London, Neumann had the opportunity to work at the rare book dealer's table in the British Museum. The job allowed him to assess and handle fine and rare books, starting a lifelong passion, and Neumann went on to amass a substantial personal library.
In 1910, Neumann returned to Berlin, Germany and in 1911 opened a book and art shop where he exhibited the work of Edvard Munch and others. Neumann had many friends who were artists and in 1915-1916 he was secretary to the Berlin Secession, a prominent German artist association. By 1922 Neumann had branch offices in Bremen, Dusseldorf and Munich.
Neumann immigrated to America in 1923 and left the Berlin gallery to the directorship of Karl Nierendorf and the Munich gallery to Günther Franke. Neumann settled in New York City and one year later he opened a 57th Street gallery and bookshop, first called J.B. Neumann's Print Room and later the New Art Circle gallery. He supported numerous artists, including Wassily Kandinsky, Max Beckmann, Paul Klee, and Georges Rouault. Elsa Schmid, Neumann's wife, was an artist who worked in mosaics.
Neumann also worked as a publisher. He created the printing company Gehenna Press and published a series of periodicals including Bilderhefte (Berlin, 1920-1922) and Artlover (New York, 1926-1945, 1959). The New Art Circle gallery closed circa 1952 and, after working as its director for nearly three decades, Neumann became a consultant for museums and collectors. He was also a lecturer and he frequently spoke about art at universities, museums and galleries.
Neumann died in Rye, New York on April 28, 1961. He is survived by his widow, Elsa Schmid (d. 1970); two sons, Peter and Albrecht; and a daughter, Mrs. Johanna Lam.