BiographyTheodore Elwood Kliman was born in Philadelphia in 1929. He served in the army in the Korean War and played minor league baseball before earning his BA degree in English from Pennsylvania State University in 1954. He then spent twenty years making educational films at Virginia Tech University and other universities as well as making industrial films for a Baltimore company. Later in life in 1979 he received his MFA from the Maryland Institute, College of Art.
He taught as an Associate Professor of Art from 1979-80 at Morgan State University in Baltimore and was a guest lecturer in studio art at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland from 1981-84. He lectured frequently on the history of Jewish artists and art history. Kliman had many exhibitions of his work, especially on the East coast. His original works are in more than 60 private and corporate collections. Kliman exhibited his art in the Luther Center for Faith and Life gallery in spring 1996.
Kliman was known for his oil paintings, drawings, etchings, and watercolors which include imagery from Judaism and Christianity. He said he found inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci's drapery studies for his faceless, bodiless cloth images that suggest human figures. These empty prayer shawls often had Hebrew or Yiddish lettering on them, many referring to the Holocaust. Kliman was quoted as remarking,
...I am not painting a prayer shawl; the tallit does not appear in these paintings as it does in life. It is heightened, interpreted. It is not then a direct representation, but a meditation. If some have seen in these paintings a statement about the Holocaust, that heartens me because it attests, I think, to their power. But that was not my intention. And I would hope that they would be seen in the broader context of our history.
He also said, "Although I did not consciously set out to do paintings of the Holocaust, 'the Missing Jew' emerged from my intention to search out a relationship between my Jewish heritage and my art."
The works by Kliman in the Fine Arts Collection were acquired as a donation from William Heintz in 1997. Kliman said of the three works in the Heintz Collection that they are part of his Holocaust Lamentations series. He says, “They are my ghosts, ghosts of the Holocaust, lamenting their destruction, and voicing, “Please don’t forget us.” For the lithograph and drawing Lamentation I and Study for Lamentation I he wrote that “The standing figure bows its head, and with a languid gesture of the right arm, laments the passing of 6 million souls.” He commented for his etching Redemption I that “The figure is ascending in space, appealing to G-d for Redemption.”
Source of BiographyObituary, “Ted Kliman: Artist Explored Life’s Meaning in Draped Cloth.” The Washington Post, February 25, 2009