Louis Schanker took art courses at Cooper Union in 1919, the Educational Alliance and the Art Students League with Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and Milton Avery amongst others. From 1931 to 1932 he attended classes at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, France.
At the beginning of his career, Louis Schanker shared a studio with the Soyer brothers, Chaim Gross and Adolph Gottlieb in New York. In 1920 Schanker traveled across the country. His works of that time include the circus murals done for the Neponsit Beach Children's Hospital and the print "Man Cutting Wheat". Around 1924 he returned to New York, leased another studio and resumed his friendships and artwork.
Besides, Schanker had his first show in 1933 at the Contemporary Arts Gallery and first exhibited at the Whitney Museum in 1936.
During the mid 1930s, Schanker began making prints and subsequently became a graphic arts supervisor for the WPA. He also completed murals for radio station WNYC, the Neponsit Beach Hospital in Long Island, and the Science and Health building at the 1939 New York World's Fair. During World War II, Schanker worked as a shipfitter and began teaching the technique of color woodblock printing at the New School for Social Research. In 1949, he became an assistant professor at Bard College, where he remained until his retirement.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Schanker exhibited frequently in group shows both in museums and in commercial galleries.
Louis Schanker died on May 7, 1981 in Stamford, Connecticut, United States.
Study in Green and Black
Abstract with Instruments
Untitled abstract composition
Forms in Action
Abstract Carved Wood Sculpture
Wall Handball (study)
Circle Image No. 25
He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish environment in the Bronx, New York.
Quotations: "Though much of my work is generally classified as abstract, all of my work develops from natural forms. I have great respect for the forms of nature and an inherent need to express myself in relation to those forms."
Schanker was a member of The Ten, a group that exhibited together in protest against the hegemony of Americanscene painting in Whitney exhibitions and in support of artistic experimentation and an international, rather than nativist, outlook in art.
At an early age Louis Schanker had an interest in both art and music.
By all accounts a delightful man, Schanker was suspect to some because of his exuberant enjoyment of life. According to Mark Rothko, Schanker was "a playboy of some sort even then, but a great painter and a great wood block painter". Besides, Rothko thought Schanker was frivolous.
Louis Schanker married stage actress and singer Libby Holman on December 27, 1960. She was a fierce champion of social causes and was an early supporter of civil rights.