SOFFER was born in Baghdad, Iraq of a Jewish background. The son of a scribe, Soffer spent much time drawing in his father’s studio. In 1948, the Arab-Israeli war broke out, and after some months in hiding, Soffer escaped to Iran and eventually Israel.
In the early 50’s Soffer made his way to New York City where he enrolled in Brooklyn College where he studied with Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Burgoyne Diller, and José de Rivera. He dedicated the early part of his career to abstract painting and developed what would become his signature color — a deep ultramarine blue— which he often embellished with Arabic calligraphy.
In 1954, Soffer had his first one-person exhibit, at the Artists Gallery in New York City. The next year, he was invited to show his work at the Carnegie Internationale in Pittsburgh. In 1961, Soffer had a one-person exhibit at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York City. That same year, he was once again invited to show at the Carnegie Internationale and was chosen as a New Talent, by Art in America.
Soffer was invited to exhibit at the Whitney Biennial in 1962 and won a Ford Foundation Purchase Award to the Whitney Museum. In 1963, Soffer began to focus on three-dimensional works and soon became widely known for his public sculptures. In 1966, his work was included in the Whitney Museum Annual.
His sculptures were exhibited at Lincoln Center, Battery Park, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Bard College, New York University, Harvard University, Hampshire College, Queens College, and Connecticut College. They are currently being displayed in China, Israel, Lithuania and Cuba.
In 1986, Sasson and his wife Stella Sands bought a house off Red Dirt Road in Amagansett. They spent summers and many full-time years there, along with their daughter, Jessica Soffer. Sasson loved the East End. He would go daily to the beach, fully dressed in white—white pants, white socks, white shirt, and white hat. Having grown up in Iraq, he was aware of how to keep cool under the sun.
Years later he bought five acres off Town Lane Road in East Hampton to house several of his monumental sculptures, which had been fabricated in steel plants all over the country. Many were shown as public art in NYC, including in front of Lincoln Center. He sold the land to East Hampton and a sculpture park with several of his monumental pieces remain on it. The park is open year-round to the public. Sasson felt most at home on the East End where he lives—in spirit and through his artwork. The absence of his presence is everywhere.
1958 Artists Gallery, New York City (paintings)
1961 Betty Parsons Gallery, New York City (paintings) 1963 Betty Parsons Gallery, New York City (paintings)
1963.1963 Galerie Birch, Copenhagen, Denmark (paintings)
1964.1964 Poindexter Gallery, New York City (sculpture/drawings)
1965.1965 John Daniels Gallery, New York City (sculptures)
1965.1965 Centennial Art Museum, Corpus Christi, Texas (paintings/sculpture)
1966.1966 Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine (paintings/sculptures)
1974 Montclair State College, Montclair, New Jersey (sculpture) 1980-81 Indianapolis Museum of Art (sculptures)
1983-87 University of Maine, Augusta (sculptures)
1995.1995 GRANDSTREET, New York City (paintings)
1996.1996 GRANDSTREET, New York City (paintings)
1997.1997 GRANDSTREET, New York City (sculptures)
2000.2000 GRANDSTREET, New York City (paintings/multiples)
2001.2001 GRANDSTREET, New York City (sculptures)
GROUP SHOWS (partial list)
1958 Carnegie Internationales, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1960 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City 1961 Museum of Modern Art, New York City
1963 Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut 1964 Radcliff College, Cambridge, Massachusetts
1965 Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, New York
1967 Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
1969 Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York 1970 Boston Museum of Fine Art, Massachusetts 1972 Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1974 Indianapolis Museum of Fine Art, Indiana
ONE-PERSON SCULPTURE SHOWS IN PUBLIC PLACES
1968 Queen Bee, Weinstein Hall, New York University, New York
1973 Westgate, Wooster Street between Houston and Bleeker Streets, New York
1973.1973 EM, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Homage to the Statue of Liberty, Battery Park, New York
1974.1974 Northern Lights, neon sculpture, Columbia University, New York
1975.1975 Nightwalker, neon sculpture, Walker Street, New York
1976.1976 Offering, Battery Park, New York City
1974 Immigrant and Migrant, West Broadway & Beech Streets, New York 1980 Eastgate-Westgate, Battery Park, New York City
1982 Hello America, Battery Park, New York City
1985-7 Amen, Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts
1986-8 Don Quixote and Sancho, Towson University, Baltimore, Maryland 1986-7 Miss Pie in the Sky, Lincoln Center, New York City
1989 A permanent sculpture exhibit in Park in East Hampton, New York
PERMANENT MONUMENTAL SCULPTURES
1971 MIDMIEM, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan 1975 Lehman College, Bronx, New York
1983 Squaw’s Burden, University of Maine, Augusta
2001.2001 Hello America, Bard College, Annendale-on-the-Hudson, New York
2002.2002 ASI, Arad, Israel
2003.2003 Tomahawk's Fantasy, Cuba
Xi Wang, Xi'an International Studies University, Xi'an, China
1986-7 Miss Pie in the Sky, Lincoln Center, New York City 2006 Sculpture Park, East Hampton, NY
Romanesque Remembrance and Gothic Remembrance, Queens College, NY
SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
National Patents Development Corporation, New York City Rockefeller institute, New York City
Chase Manhattan Bank Art Collection, New York City Webb & Knapp Art Collection, New York City
Butler Art Institute, Youngstown, Ohio
Wayne State University
North Jersey Cultural Council
Indianapolis Museum of Fine Art, Indiana University of Maine, Augusta
Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
GRANTS, AWARDS, COMMISSIONS, AND SPONSORSHIPS
1962 Ford Foundation Whitney Museum Purchase Award 1963-4 Hasle-Klinker Grant
1964 Lincoln Center Avery Fisher Hall Commission
1965 T.W. Dick Grant
1966 Ford Foundation Visiting Artist Award 1968 Vesta V'Soske Grant
1971 John Meyer Grant
1972 Frank and Jill Thomas Commission 1973 National Endowment for the Arts Grant 1973 Owen Illinois Glass Company Grant 1974 Gilbert and Lila Silverman Grant
1974 Mary Johnson Grant
1975 Murry Farber Grant
1979 Indianapolis Museum of Art Grant 1980 Betty Parson Partial Sponsorship 1983 Myrtle Willey Sponsorship
1983-4 Kambé Brothers, Toyotashi, Japan
Sawin, Martica, "Sasson Soffer" (exh. rev.), Arts, XXXII, 7 April 1958, p.62. Ashton, Dore, New York Times, 25 April 1958.
Kennebec Journal, Augusta, Maine, 11 August 1960, p.6.
Edgar, Natalie, "Sasson Soffer" (exh. rev.), Art News, LIX, 10 Feb. 1961, p.11. Young, Vernon, "Sasson Soffer" (exh. rev.), Arts, XXV, 5 Feb. 1961, pp.61-62. Presteon, Stuart, New York Times, 26 Feb. 1961.
Christian Science Monitor, 4 March 1961.
New York Times, 11 February 1962, Section 8, p.1.
Baker, Richard Brown, with Dorothy Gees Seckler, "New Talent USA: Painting," Art in
America, L,1, 1962, p.25.
Art Voices, March 1963.
Sandler, Irving H., "Sasson Sofer" (exh.rev.), Art News, LXII, 2 April 1963, p.15.
Judd, Donald, "Sasson Soffer" (exh. rev.), Arts, XXXIII, 9 May–June 1963, pp. 110–111. Campbell, Laurence, "Sasson Soffer" (exh. rev.), Art News, LXIII, 7 Nov. 1964, p.57. Genauer, Emily, New York Herald Tribune, 7 Nov. 1964.
Preston, Stuart, New York Times, 14 Nov. 1969, p.26.
Judd, Donald, "Sasson Soffer" (exh.rev.), Arts, XXXIX, 3 Dec. 1964, pp.68–69.
Levine, Neil A., "Sasson Soffer" (exh.rev.), Art News, LXIV, 3 May 1965, p. 46.
Grossberg, Jacob, "Sasson Soffer" (exh.rev.), Arts, XXXIX, Sept–Oct. 1965, p.67.
Cain, Jospeh A. Caller-Time, Corpus Christi, 13 Oct. 1965.
Press Herald, Portland, Maine, 26 Jan. 1966, p.1.
Schjeldahl, Peter, New York Times, 28 Dec. 1969, Sec. 2, p.29.
The Art Gallery Magazine, "EM," Oct. 1970, p.87.
The Art Gallery Magazine, "MIEM," May 1971, p.63.
Detroit Free Press, 15 Oct. 1973, Section A, p.3.
Dudar, Helen, New York Post, 8 June 1974, p.34.
Dudar, Helen, "Sculpture to Bloom at Battery Park," New York Post, 20 March 1975, p.6. "Homage to the Statue of Liberty," The Soho Weekly News, 20 March 1975.
Village Voice, 20 March 1975.
(untitled), Daily News, New York, 24 March 1975.
(untitled), New York Post, 24 March 1975.
The Art Gallery, XVIII, 8 May 1975, p.8 ('Homage to the Statue of Liberty" on cover).
Gerstle, Alan, "Sasson Soffer," Arts, L, i, Sept. 1975, p.32.
Glueck, Grace, New York Times, 13 Oct. 1975, p.42.
Gayle, Stephen,"Tenants Call Gift Horse a White Elephant," New York Post, 18 June 1976. Glueck, Grace, "Art People," New York Times, 18 June 1976, p.c. 18.
New York Post, 7 July 1976, p.10; New York Post, 22 April 1978, p.4.
New York Times, 7 July 1976, p.39.
Glueck, Grace, New York Times, 14 July 1978, p.c. 23.
"Dawn and Dusk," The Indianapolis Star, 17 May 1980, p.23.
Garmel, Marian, "Art Forms," Indianapolis News, 23 Aug. 1980, pp.1, 8.
Fry, Donn, Indianapolis Star, 28 Sept. 1980, Section 8, p.8.
Beem, Edgar Allen, "Sasson Soffer and the Gardiner Steelers," Maine Times, 8 July 1983,
pp.12–15; photography by Stephen Nichols.
Field, Fred, "Careful," Kennebec Journal, Maine, 24 May 1984, p.16.
Merchant, Robert, "Soffer's Sculpture," East Hampton Star, 21 April 1988. Ebony, David, "Sasson Soffer at Grand Street," Art in America, April 1996, p.120. East Hampton Star, 18 Aug. 2005; 25 Aug. 2005; 16 Dec. 2005; 25 Oct. 2006.