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Alfred Bendiner was an architect, artist and author, whose whimsical caricatures of various personalities earned him the title of "the Hirschfeld of Philadelphia." After earning a masters degree in architecture, he set up his own firm. Among his designs are the original offices of the Blue Cross of Greater Philadelphia. An inveterate traveler, Bendiner toured the world with his wife, Elizabeth. Never without his miniature paint box, Bendiner spontaneously captured activity around him on any available surface, including napkins, tablecloths, and menus. From 1938 to 1946 he produced caricatures of concerts and plays for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, as well as other publications. He wrote and illustrated humorous books based on his personal experiences and family history. He authored an essay, How Frank Lloyd Wright Got His Medal, for Harper's Magazine. It was later published in literature textbooks. His skilled draughtsmanship garnered him a staff position as an artist on University of Pennsylvania archaeological expeditions to Iraq in 1936 and Guatemala in 1960. Bendiner painted murals for several state institutions and had numerous exhibitions of his work.
Photograph of Alfred Bendiner from book cover, Bendiner's Philadelphia. Unidentified photographer. Courtesy of Margaret K. Yarnall. James A. Michener Art Museum archives.
Education and Training
School of Industrial Arts (now University of the Arts), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1917
University of Pennsylvania, BA, 1922 and M.A. in Architecture, 1927, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Traveled in Europe and the Near East
Studied at the American Academy in Rome, Italy
Teachers and Influences
Paul P. Cret gave him a job as a draftsman in the Cret architectural firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Connection to Bucks County
Although Alfred and Betty Bendiner did not live in Bucks County, they were drawn to the New Hope area. Because they so loved Bucks County, they had their wedding dinner at the Washington Crossing Inn and then drove to the Stockton Inn in New Jersey for their honeymoon. Both were actively involved with New Hope theater and jazz scene, and they were friendly with the local visual artists, many of whom they met at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Alfred was a close friend of Harry Rosin, who made a bronze bust of Mrs. Bendiner which is now in the Library of Congress.
The Bendiners often visited the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, where Alfred, while working for The Evening Bulletin, did drawings and caricatures of the Playhouse and the people there.
Colleagues and Affiliations
Sculptor Harry Rosin and his family. The Alfred and Elizabeth Bendiner Foundation was curated by Margaret Yarnall, a long-time Bucks County resident. The foundation provided museums and institutions with Bendiner's artwork for others to enjoy and for educational purposes.
Major Solo Exhibitions
Lithographs, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania , 1965
Bendiner's World, Princeton University, Firestone Library, Princeton, New Jersey, 1986
The Theatrical World of Alfred Bendiner, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1986
Alfred Bendiner: Lithographs, Drawings, and Watercolors from the 1930s to the 1960s, Susan Teller Gallery, New York, New York, 1990
Major Group Exhibitions
Museum of Art, University of Oregon at Eugene, Oregon, 1962
Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1964
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1965 and 1989
Associated American Artists, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1982
Philadelphia Prints from the 1930s and 1940s, Dolan-Maxwell Gallery, Philadelphia, 1985
Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts, 1989
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., 1990
Princeton Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey
Newark Art Museum, Newark, New Jersey
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
Art Museum of the University of Texas at Austin, Texas
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Bibliotheque International, Paris, France
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England
Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
National Museum of Norway, Oslo, Norway
Commissioned Murals by Bendiner
Rachmaninoff performing his Concerto No. 3 on December 2, 1939, conducted by Eugene Ormandy, Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1952
The Philadelphia Orchestra and The Academy of Music, Philadelphia, with Piano Soloist Sergei Rachmaninoff, for Gimbel Brothers Department Store, Philadelphia, 1952
Interpretations of Philadelphia: 1856 and 1956, Fidelity Bank, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, 1956
Panorama of Philadelphia, Blue Cross of Greater Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1959
Triptych of a Circus, Byck Brothers, Louisville, Kentucky,
The Story of Man, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Novels and Short Stories Written and Illustrated by Bendiner
Music to My Eyes, 1952
Bendiner's Philadelphia, 1964
Translated from the Hungarian, 1967
Scribner's, The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, the Journal of the American Institute of Architects, the Pennsylvania Gazette, and Expedition magazine; he was a regular contributor to The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and The Sunday Bulletin (1938-1946)
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Art Department, Public Ledger
Employed by architect Paul Cret, Philadelphia
Opened his own architectural firm, Philadelphia, 1929
University Museum's Archaeological Expeditions, travel to the Middle East and Central America
Bendiner's travel articles appeared in Philadelphia newspapers from the 1930s to the 1950s.
His musical-theme drawings and caricature portraits of musicians appeared in The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and The Sunday Bulletin from 1938 to 1946.
Gimbel Brothers, Commission for the mural at the Academy of Music, 1952
Front Page Award, Newspaper Guild
Alumni Award, Philadelphia College of Art (University of the Arts), 1964
Affiliations and Memberships
Fellow, American Institute of Architects, 1957
Elected Associate Member, National Academy of Design, 1964