|Place of Birth||Jersey City, NJ, USA|
|Place of Death||Honolulu, HI, USA|
|Birth Name||Lily Ascher|
Lily Ascher was the second child born to Morris and Bella Ascher, who owned a dry goods store in Jersey City, New Jersey.1 The family moved to Harlem sometime before 1940, where Ascher attended the High School of Music and Art—an influential magnet school founded by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia—which jump-started her creative interests. She attended the Cooper Union between 1942 and 1946 and also took evening courses at the Art Students League. Likely through the advice of Leo Katz, a teacher from Cooper, she joined Atelier 17 immediately after graduation. Her engravings are masterful and range from stylized figural studies—such as Angel of the Annunciation, one of her best-circulated prints—to fully abstract compositions.2 She exhibited widely, participating in Atelier 17’s exhibition at the Laurel Gallery (1949) and several other print annuals: SAGA (1947, 1948, and 1951), the Brooklyn Museum (1949), and Northwest Printmakers (1951). Around the time of her Atelier 17 affiliation, Ascher also made designs for Winfield Fine Art in Jewelry, a short-lived venture specializing in encasing a variety of objects within plastic.3 In 1957 Ascher married the Indian art historian Prithwish Neogy, and together the couple moved to Honolulu for his teaching position at the University of Hawaii. Later in life, she worked in ceramics, sculpture, and woodcarving.
- The artist’s daughter, Esha Neogy, was helpful in filling in many biographical details. Thank you also to Chessa Nilssen and Peri Swaniger for their genealogical assistance. ↩
- The Indianapolis Museum of Art has the most substantial public holdings of Ascher’s Atelier 17 prints. ↩
- Three examples of her jewelry can be found in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt. Ascher likely heard of Winfield because one of the co-founders, Rodney Winfield, was a fellow student at the Copper Union. ↩