Aaron Berkman was born in Hartford, Connecticut where his parents had been settled since 1885. He attended the CT League of Art Students from 1919 to 1921 with classmate and lifelong friend, Milton Avery. He studied at the Museum Art School of Boston until 1924 and then traveled in Europe for two years. He was influenced by John Singer Sargent and George Inness.
During the Depression, in 1929 Berkman moved to New York City where he was appointed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to oversee the Federal Art Project’s Contemporary Art Center at the 92nd Street Y, which comprised a 17 member artist faculty. Berkman also taught art and art history there. During this period Berkman established the ACA Gallery in NYC’s West Village – the first Artist Cooperative Gallery in the City. After retiring from the Federal Arts project, he founded the Bercone Gallery in NY in 1965.
In his early years, Berkman had a solo exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. Throughout his career he took part in many group exhibitions including at the Brooklyn Museum, the Riverdale Museum, WPA Artists’ 50th anniversary and various NY State and City commercial galleries.
Berkman was primarily a NYC artist but during the summers from 1939 to 1945, he painted in Mohegan Island, ME, Gloucester MA and the Adirondacks. He incorporated the local color and scenery of these locales into his compositions of bucolic landscape or the City’s most elegant hotspot.