Maurice Bereov, photograph of Perle Fine with painting Rigid and Biomorphic #3 in her Provincetown studio, 1945. © Copyright AE Artworks.
Perle Fine, With Abandon, ca. 1945. Etching, aquatint, and engraving, plate: 7 x 4 7/8 in. (17.8 x 12.4 cm); sheet: 14 ¾ x 13 1/8 in. (37.5 x 33.3 cm). Dolan/Maxwell, Philadelphia Art © Copyright AE Artworks, LLC; image courtesy Dolan/Maxwell.

30. Perle Fine

Life Dates1905-1988
Place of BirthBoston, MA, USA
Place of DeathEast Hampton, NY, USA
Birth NamePoule Feine

Perle Fine was born in Boston and grew up in nearby Malden, Massachusetts, where her family operated a dairy farm. Displaying artistic tendencies from a young age, Fine left high school early and enrolled in the School of Practical Art in Boston, studying illustration and commercial art.1 Around 1927 or 1928 she moved to New York and pursued training at Grand Central School of Art, the Art Students League, and Hans Hofmann’s school. While on fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation in 1943–44, Fine joined Atelier 17’s classroom at the New School and befriended Sue Fuller, among others. She initially produced a handful of black-and-white intaglio prints with biomorphic shapes, two of which were exhibited with Atelier 17’s group show at MoMA (1944). She returned to the studio around 1946 to experiment with color printmaking. These small and intricately executed prints feature automatic, surrealistic markings set against geometric shaded or color-block elements.2 Fine’s prints achieved wide circulation in two additional Atelier 17 shows—at Leicester Galleries (1947) and Laurel Gallery (1949)—along with stand-alone group shows such as annuals at the Brooklyn Museum and Society of American Etchers. Fine’s career took off in the late 1940s with a sequence of critically successful solo exhibitions at the Willard Gallery, Nierendorf Gallery, and Betty Parsons Gallery. At the invitation of Willem de Kooning, Fine became a member of The Club and was, in general, a very networked member of the New York art community. She taught at Hofstra University between 1962 and 1973 and continued to work, primarily in paper collage, until her death in 1988.


Perle Fine papers, 1940-1967, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Selected Bibliography

Ashton, Dore. “Perle Fine.” Art Digest 27 (January 1, 1953): 18.

B. K. “Perle Fine.” Art News 48 (Summer 1949): 54.

Harrison, Helen. Perle Fine: The Storm Departs. Chicago: McCormick Gallery, 2007.

Housley, Kathleen L. Tranquil Power: The Art and Life of Perle Fine. New York: Midmarch Arts Press, 2005.

J. K. R. “Canvases Lit with Color.” Art Digest 23 (July 1, 1949): 17.

“Perle Fine.” Art Digest 19 (March 1, 1945): 18.

“Perle Fine.” Art News 44 (March 1, 1945): 7, 25.

Peters, Lisa N. Perle Fine: The Cool Series. New York: Spanierman Modern, 2011.

Porter, Franklin. “Perle Fine.” Art News 51 (December 1952): 56.

R. G. “Perle Fine.” Art News 50 (March 1951): 47.

Wide to the Wind: Works on Paper by Perle Fine. Chicago: McCormick Gallery, 2014.


  1. For more on Fine’s life and career, see Kathleen L. Housley, Tranquil Power: The Art and Life of Perle Fine (New York: Midmarch Arts, 2005).
  2. Several of Fine’s Atelier 17 prints are reproduced in Wide to the Wind: Works on Paper by Perle Fine (Chicago: McCormick Gallery, 2014), 13–15.