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George Bergen (March 25, 1903 - August, 1984) was a Russian-Jewish painter who had been another of Duncan Grant's lovers. For a time Angelica Garnett, Grant's daughter, was in love with Bergen, but the relationship did not last.
George Bergen was born in Minsk, Russia. His family settled in Brooklyn, in 1909 and they were granted citizenship 10 years later. Bergen studied at various New York art schools, was then taught by George Bellows at the School of Fine Arts, Yale University and in 1925 crossed the Atlantic on a Yale travelling scholarship. Held his first solo show at Goupil Gallery in the late 1920s. Then another at Lefevre in 1932. Also showed at Agnew and Leicester Galleries.
Bergen was by then entangled artistically and emotionally with the Bloomsbury Group. Russian-born American artist George Bergen met the artist Duncan Grant in late 1929. Their friendship quickly evolved into an intense relationship and they spent a lot of time together at Charleston. His new relationship with George caused tension between Duncan and Vanessa Bell and in a letter to his former lover David Garnett,, he confided his complex feelings: ‘I know perfectly well that George loves me … But why do I get into a state when he is tired and I am tired and therefore think that he has no feeling for me? And why does Nessa not believe that I love her as much as ever I did? … Why does she not realise that my love for George gives me more power to love her instead of less … The truth is I want them both … Only I know that sometimes Nessa suddenly feels that I give something to George that I don’t give to her.’ The friendship between Vanessa and Duncan was possibly the most important in both of their lives, and Vanessa was becoming increasingly worried that Duncan would leave and move to America with George. Eventually, their relationship came to an end as George began spending less and less time with Duncan, and more time visiting America. Promptly replying to letters was apparently not one of George’s strengths.
East End Pub George Bergen (1903–1984) Charleston
Bergen lived for some time in California where he was friendly stars such as Charles Chaplin, whom he painted. In 1939 settled in New York. At this time he gave as his main contact John Gaston Edgar, to whom Countee Cullen dedicated For A Poet. His connections with Bloomsbury painters were renewed in the 1960s.
Duncan visited New York in the 1960s with his friend Paul Roche and he rekindled his friendship with George. A few years later, Duncan and Vanessa’s daughter Angelica visited New York and fell in love with George. When she told Duncan how she felt, he wrote back, ‘Of course I am deeply interested to hear of your feelings for George. I only hope his complete inability to write letters may not make things difficult for you.’ Their relationship lasted a year, and although they lived together for a time, George and Angelica eventually separated.
In 1988 Sally Hunter Fine Art held a show 'George Bergen and Bloomsbury'. His work is represented in a number of public galleries.
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