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Herbert Abrams, 82; Did Portraits of Dignitaries, Two Presidents

August 31, 2003|Dennis McLellan | Times Staff Writer

Abrams attended Norwich Art School in Norwich, Conn., for a year after high school and was studying art at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn when he was drafted into the Army in 1942.

While he was serving as a camouflage technician, his wife said, he redesigned the Army Air Forces aircraft insignia: the now familiar star with two tabs on each side. He later became a pilot and flying instructor.

After the war, he graduated from the Pratt Institute and attended the Art Students League in New York City.

Although he began his career as an artist in 1947 and painted occasional portraits over the next decade, he did not paint his first major portrait until the early 1960s: a painting of Westmoreland when he was superintendent of West Point.

The painting gave Abrams his first major recognition.

Abrams, who taught art classes for officers and their families at the U.S. Military Academy from 1953 to 1974, went to South Vietnam in 1972 and produced five paintings of war scenes for the Army's military history program.

He also painted 22 portraits for Johns Hopkins University and its medical center. The university gave him an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in 1997 in recognition of his "extraordinary career and accomplishments."

In addition to his wife, Abrams is survived by his daughter, Kathryn Bindert, of Malverne, N.Y.; five grandchildren; and his brother, Arthur, of Warehouse Point, Conn.

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