Rachmiel, later Milton, Resnick was born in Bratslav in what was then Russia, now Ukraine, on 8 January 1917, and migrated with his family to the United States of America in 1922. He briefly studied commercial art at the Pratt Institute, New York, after which he attended the American Artists’ School in New York in the mid 1930s, during which time he established a long-lasting friendship with Willem de Kooning. After serving with the US Army during the Second World War, Resnick lived in Paris from 1946 to 1948. He returned to New York where he enrolled in, though rarely attended, the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts in the late 1940s, then taught at the Pratt Institute during 1954 and 1955 and at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1955 to 1956. He held a number of temporary teaching posts throughout his career. It was not until 1955, at the age of 38, that the artist held his first solo exhibition in New York, at the Poindexter Gallery, which led some critics and writers to categorise Resnick as a ‘second generation’ Abstract Expressionist.

Resnick exhibited with a number of galleries during the 1950s and early 1960s, and he was included in many group shows, including Artists of the New York School: Second generation paintings by twenty three artists at The Jewish Museum, New York, in 1957; Action painting 1958 at the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts in 1958; and American Abstract Expressionists and Imagists at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1961. He exhibited regularly in the annual exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. During a period when he acted as a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, 1955–1956, Resnick received his first solo museum show, which was held at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, in 1955. It wasn’t until 15 years later that his second major museum exhibition was staged, Milton Resnick: Selected large paintings, organised by the Fort Worth Art Center Museum in Texas in 1971. The artist exhibited with the Max Hutchinson Gallery, New York, from 1972 to 1982 and in 1979 established a long association with the Robert Miller Gallery, New York. A major retrospective exhibition Milton Resnick: Paintings 1945–1985 was held at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas, in 1985. Resnick, one of the last remaining members of his generation of American painters, killed himself on 12 March 2004 at his home on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He was 87.