BENNINGTON — This fall on view in the Regional Artists Gallery of the Bennington Museum is the meticulous work of print maker Asa Cheffetz (1896-1965). His wood engravings served as printing plates and from those came beautiful prints, many of them included in Asa Cheffetz: Vermont Wood Engravings, on view through Dec. 30.
Born in Buffalo, New York in 1896, Cheffetz moved to Massachusetts as a young boy and lived most of his life there. Directly from high school, he went to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts where he studied with Philip Hale. He went on to study drawing and etching in New York at the National Academy of Design. World War I interrupted his studies, but upon his discharge he returned to the Academy, however his studies were cut short when he was pulled back home to help with the family business.
In 1927, he visited Old Deerfield and it was that trip that inspired him to once again take up his artistic activities. This time he specifically followed his passion for the New England landscape in the medium of wood engraving. He went on to produce wood engravings, etchings, and block prints, but he is best known for his mastery of wood engravings, a talent primarily self-taught.
During the 1930s and '40s, Cheffetz produced most of his highly detailed wood engravings. Inspired by the Vermont countryside, his landscapes portray his strong affection for the land and his simple yet detailed blends of the hills, sky and water. Expressed in rich blacks and stark whites, negative and positive spaces, he blended the strength and starkness of Vermont's countryside with his own affection for the land. Known to be a perfectionist, he personally printed his engravings paying meticulous attention to the detail and gradations of each piece.