Born in New York City, Paul Berlin was a semi-abstract painter who achieved early success as a landscape, portrait, and mural painter in New York. Burlin's early art education was at the National Academy of Design, and he also studied art in England. In the 1920s, 30s and 40s, he exhibited and lectured widely and was well known nationally. Inspired by a 1913 visit to the Southwest, he became an early member of the Santa Fe school of western painting and did Indian portraits and landscapes including the Grand Canyon. In the 1912 Armory Show exhibition, he was one of the youngest members in the exhibition and the only painter who had visited the Southwest. However, his abstract, expressionistic style was viewed suspiciously by other painters in the West.