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Henry Finkelstein


Henry Finkelstein pa i n t i n g s

Va l l e y House G a l l e r y & Scu l p t ur e garde n Da l l as, T e x a s


Look at your subject once, or a thousand times.

- Pierre Bonnard


Day Lilies , 2010. Oil on canvas, 48 x 55 inches


an interview with HENRY F INKELSTEIN by Bill Scott

BILL SCOT T: You live in New York, but paint landscapes in

luxury. I’d always dreamed of having a regular place to

France and in Maine. Is that correct?

stay in France.

HENRY FINKELSTEIN: Yes, I paint from the landscape,

I suppose that all my paintings have an air of domesticity,

out-of-doors, in Maine and in France. I also paint still-

of considered land, of places where people live. I’ve

lives when I’m in New York, mostly in the winter.

never been able to make much of a connection with

BS: Can you talk a bit about France and Maine, and how

the landscapes there influence your work? HF: I’ve worked in Maine for years—all my life, really—

at a family summerhouse on Cranberry Island, a small island off Mount Desert Island. I often paint things that I see right around the house. Our place is on the water and there’s a gentle roll to the terrain, with gardens and fruit trees that we’ve cultivated for years. Of course, I work from other places on the island as well. More recently I’ve been painting in Brittany, in the town of Rochefort-en-Terre. It’s inland, not by the shore. I first

wilderness that has little or no human presence. My work in both places has something to do with finding the new in the familiar—Maine, of course, for obvious reasons, but France too because my family lived there for a year, in Aix-en-Provence, when I was twelve. The light in France, particularly in the northern part of the country, is very special. It goes around the form and glows from within like a Renoir. Around Rochefort there are farms, rolling hills, houses and gardens, and rivers and canals that have existed for centuries. Recently I’ve been painting several mills that are within ten kilometers of where I Iive. These were once

visited there in 1992 on a residency grant for American

used for grinding grain into flour, but most of them have

artists. I fell in love with the area and had a very inspired

been converted into homes. Like most French country

and productive summer. I was invited back in 2000. That

houses, they all have names: Bragoux, Bois Brehan, Larré.

time, with no preconceived plan and an exchange rate

I like these motifs because there’s a shift up and down to

of 10 francs to the dollar, my wife and I bought a house

the landscape. And there’s water, which is always moving.

in the town. Happily, she loves France as much as I do.

Also in the show are paintings of my own garden, which

The property came with a walled garden down the hill.

is full of old rosebushes. They flourish in the climate there

Now I go there every summer if I can. It feels like such a

and seem to survive whether we prune them or not.


I like a subject that has a little confusion to it, where things in the foreground get in the way. I like to find elegance in a bit of a mess, a place that’s not overly manicured but is still beautiful. For all of this, I’m not really interested in telling a story about mills, or about life in Maine. I’m interested in what the subject makes me feel visually. It’s not a nameable emotion but one that comes from color and light. I’m looking for things that can be expressed only through visual means, in the same way that a composer would strive to convey that which requires sound and time to reach an audience. Any painting must have a unity about it. Of course, some knowledge is needed for this, but in my case it’s the emotion that comes first. Or, as Bonnard said, “A sentiment that holds the wall.” BS: Do you paint these outside? If so, how does that work? HF: I start out by drawing from places that interest me.

If the lines develop a rhythm, the drawing becomes more believable and I begin to see something to paint. The space and light always play a role. I don’t just draw a place and then apply light and color to it later. For it to be a motif I have to sense the color immediately through the pencil as it moves across the page. My drawings are hardly ever tonal—they’re mostly done with lines; I don’t know why. Other people might not even recognize what my drawings depict. But for me they serve as a reminder of my initial inspiration. Sometimes I’ve tried to teach students to draw in black and white, expressing the sensation of color, but I can’t seem to get it across. I love

I feel them precisely. The first colors that go in must be very specific, have the right sound, express the light I’m after. If a color goes in that’s not alive to this I have to eradicate it immediately. If I don’t, I might start painting a different color statement from the false color, and the whole thing would fall apart. You could say that the light is a kind of invention, although I’m observing something in front of me. A friend I shared a studio with when I was

that—something that I can’t teach!

a student once said to me that light in a painting was the

Often I have to draw for several days before I find

I still think about that. I also continue to use charcoal

something. When I finally do, I square up, or nowadays

throughout the life of the painting. I’m happy to leave

project, the drawing onto a larger canvas, tracing it with

some lines in the finished canvas, as they’re as much a

charcoal. I try to copy the exact rhythms and proportions

part of my discoveries as anything else.

inner light of the artist, not a light out there in nature.

in the drawing. But these lines are not fixed boundaries that contain the forms. They continue to move, and

Eventually, when I can’t think of anything more to say,

hopefully breathe, as I paint.

the painting is finished. Still, I continue to look at it in my studio once I’m back in New York. I adjust the amounts of

I return to the motif several times, at the same time of

each color on the surface, partially covering some colors,

day and in the same weather. I don’t apply colors until

expanding the areas of others. I don’t really add any


information here, such as an extra branch or a window. I

My parents were landscape painters. I also became a

just look at the painting abstractly and try to make it as

landscape painter. It’s a little embarrassing and, as an

resonant as possible. I love the way that Robert De Niro,

adult, fraught with anxieties. But maybe a way to think of

[Sr.], could paint thinking only about the color quantities,

it is that during the Renaissance all painters basically did

almost disregarding everything else. I steal a little bit

Madonnas, Crucifixes, and Annunciations. That’s all they

from him in this respect, but I can’t pare it down as much

needed. I guess landscape painting is just a form that

as he does.

I’ve adopted. Landscape is a rendering of a place. Figure painting is of an object, formally speaking. The figure is

BS: Your parents, Gretna Campbell and Louis Finkelstein,

a closed form, whereas the landscape is open ended. Of

were both well-known landscape painters. Have you always

course, this is an oversimplification. Still life for me is just

been a landscape painter? Did you paint as a child? With

another kind of landscape, but one which I have to build,

them? As a painter, how do you think that has affected you?

in the studio, out of objects.

HF: You’re asking about a lot! But I don’t mind trying to

I am very grateful that the teachers I studied with later

answer. Yes, because I grew up in a family of artists, I was

on did not work from life. Nicholas Marsicano, Reuben

always around art and making art. I copied Poussin in pen

Kadish, and Lester Johnson offered me other things that

and ink. We made Christmas cookies from Giotto figures.

I’ve come to synthesize into my work. The language of

I drew my cats as well as still-life from things we had on

painting is not limited to working from observation, and

the kitchen table. When I was ten, I drew from the model

I’m convinced that a perceptual painter, which I consider

with my parents and a small group of their friends. But it

myself to be, should be aware of other things that have

was really during that year in Aix, when I was twelve, that

been done.

I became committed to landscape and to color. I would draw between Aix and the nearby town of Le Tholonet in oil pastels, under the light of the plane trees, and in the town of Aix, which to me is the most elegant town in the world. The light would bounce between the ochre walls. My mother often painted in the Bibémus Quarry, where Cézanne had worked. And my father would drive to other places, sometimes far afield. Once he did a painting that had power lines in it. My mother and I told him he shouldn’t do that. When I think about it now, I see how our prejudice against power lines was sort of silly. We traveled to museums and churches throughout France, Spain, and Italy. All of it was a fantastic education

BS: Visual artists tend to have their own versions of art

history that are often very different from those of art historians, i.e., which artists are important, and so on. You have such an intense interest in art history, I’m curious to know who you consider to be the major artists vis-à-vis your own painting interests? Renoir, for example, is a difficult painter for many people, yet you have a strong attraction to his work. What draws you to it? Subject matter? Color? Touch? Light? HF: Yes, you and I both have a love for Renoir. I enjoy

noticing how many people, especially Americans, hate him. I feel like I’m part of a select group that shares a

for me. We went to one relatively small museum in Albi,

beautiful secret. I love the way Renoir uses light. It’s

dedicated to the work of Toulouse-Lautrec, and I copied

opalescent. It comes from within the painting. It creates

some of his paintings from reproductions. Suddenly I

volume from within. Renoir is the last echo of Titian.

noticed what the Impressionists were doing! I discovered that color was relative, not local to the object, but

Titian has everything for me. His vivid use of color

something affected by the light it was in, and even by

renders perhaps the most resounding form that’s ever

the materials one used—there were infinite possibilities.

been painted. He drew with color instead of line, as did

That has never left me.

his teacher Giovanni Bellini, who in turn got it from the


Interior with Bust of Minerva , 2011. Oil on canvas, 46 x 40 inches


Flemish painters before him. Titian’s student Veronese was the first, in my view, to put color before all else. He was the first true colorist. Bonnard is another love of mine. He uses color as a metaphor. It’s delicious, but this is because it’s so emotive. I’m jealous of how Bonnard could work exclusively in the studio from his drawings, away from the source. He focused on the memory of his initial feeling. He once said that Cézanne could paint from nature but that he was “armed against nature,” meaning, as I take it, that he could retain his central idea without being distracted by the sight seen. In my case I think I need to work outside because I don’t have the imagination to make something up—at least for now. There’s no progress in art, just a rearrangement of priorities. We all choose from different artists of the past: what our own priorities are, which ones we feel greater affinity with. Art exists in a kind of non-time in which we place ourselves. It makes us live longer.

Bill Scott is an abstract painter and printmaker based in Philadelphia. He is represented by Hollis Taggart Galleries in New York. Scott has written on art for several museum and gallery exhibitions, including Berthe MorisotImpressionist and Manet and the Sea at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


1. Summer Rain, Brittany , 2013. Oil on canvas, 50 x 56 inches


2. Rose Garden , 2012. Oil on canvas, 42 x 49 inches


3. Sheep Barn , 2010. Oil on canvas, 27 x 32 inches


4. Still Life with Sculpture , 2012. Oil on canvas, 49 x 58 inches


5. LarrĂŠ, Yellow and Blue , 2012. Oil on canvas, 50 x 46 inches


6. Garden in Spring , 2013. Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches


7. Still Life with Leeks , 2010. Oil on canvas, 42 x 48 inches


8. Walled Garden III , 2011. Oil on canvas, 46 x 52 inches


9. Boat House at Malestroit, 2010. Oil on canvas, 40 x 52 inches


10. The Lock at LarrĂŠ , 2012. Oil on canvas, 40 x 49 inches


11. La Fuye ll , 2013. Oil on canvas, 44 x 54 inches


12. The Pool from the Studio , 2010. Oil on canvas, 46 x 50 inches


13. Still Life with Pomegranates , 2013. Oil on canvas, 46 x 56 inches


14. Small Bridge, Bois Brehan , 2011. Oil on canvas, 44 x 40 inches


15. The Mill at LarrĂŠ , 2013. Oil on canvas, 50 x 48 inches


HENR Y FIN K E L STEIN

SOLO E X HI BITION S

Henry Finkelstein was born in 1958 in Bar Harbor, Maine, to Gretna Campbell and Louis Finkelstein.

Valley House Gallery, Dallas, TX

2013

Valley House Gallery, Dallas, TX

2011

June Fitzpatrick Gallery, Portland, ME

2010

Valley House Gallery, Dallas, TX

2009

Valley House Gallery, Dallas, TX

2006

Kraushaar Galleries, New York, NY

2005

Valley House Galleries, Dallas, TX

2004

Kraushaar Galleries, New York, NY

2003

Valley House Galleries, Dallas, TX

2002

Kraushaar Galleries, New York, NY

2001

Simon Gallery, Morristown, NJ

1999

Between the Muse Gallery, Rockland, ME

1999

Gleason Fine Art Gallery, Portland, ME

1993

Bengert MacRae Gallery, Wyckoff, NJ

1993

MusĂŠe du Chateau de Rocheforten-Terre, France

1992

Washington Art Association, Washington Depot, CT

1991

Prince Street Gallery, New York, NY

1991

Parkerson Gallery, Houston, TX

1989

Andrews Gallery, Williamsburg, VA

1989

Prince Street Gallery, New York, NY

1988

Prince Street Gallery, New York, NY

1986

He currently resides in Brooklyn, New York and Rochefort-en-Terre, France. He is married to Pamela Duncan Silver, and they have a daughter, Lucia.

E DUCATION MFA Yale University School of Art

1981-83

BFA Cooper Union

1976-80


AWAR DS

S E L EC TE D G ROUP E X HI B ITION S

Carnegie Prize, National Academy of Design Annual Exhibition

2003

2000

2010

Alfred and Trafford Klots Residency Fellowship, Chateau de Rocheforten-Terre, France

East Meets Midwest: New Visions of Figurative Painting, Beverly Arts Center, Chicago, IL: Hoffman-LaChance Contemporary, St. Louis, MO; Andrews Gallery, Williamsburg, VA

2010

NA Elect, National Academy of Design

1994 1992

163rd - 184th Annual Exhibitions, National Academy of Design, New York, NY

19882009

Alfred and Trafford Klots Residency Fellowship, Chateau de Rocheforten-Terre, France

Visiting Artists Exhibition, Lyme Academy, Old Lyme, CT

2006

Julius Hallgarten Prize, National Academy of Design

1988

Valley House Exhibition, Masur Museum, Monroe, LA

2005

Fulbright Fellowship, Painting, Italy

1983-84

50th Anniversary Exhibition, Valley House Gallery, Dallas, TX

2004

Ford Foundation Materials Grant

1980

Foliage, Kraushaar Galleries, New York, NY

2004

Ethel Cram Memorial Prize, Cooper Union

1980

100 Years of Painting at Rochefort-en-Terre, MusĂŠe du Chateau de Rochefort-en-Terre, France

2003

A Fine Line, Drawings curated by Robert Cottingham, National Academy of Design, New York, NY

2003

Beyond the Apple and Bottle: Still Life Invitational, Kraushaar Galleries, New York, NY

Maine as Sanctuary, Lohin-Geduld Gallery, New York, NY

2011

Fresh and Salty (a Valley House Gallery Group Exhibition), Fort Worth, TX

2011

Shorelines, Valley House Gallery, Dallas, TX

REVIEWS Kent Boyer, Dallas Art News

May 11, 2011

2002

John Goodrich, The New York Sun

April 7, 2005

Still Life, Kraushaar Galleries, New York, NY

2001

Carl Little, Art in America

September, 2003

The Art of the Garden, curated by Carl Little, College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME

2000

Deborah Mason, Vision

Fall, 2003

New Jersey Landscapes, curated by Lois Dodd, Rider University Art Gallery, Lawrenceville, NJ

1999

Marion Filler, Daily Record, Morris County, NJ

January 30, 1999

Gallery Group, Ice Gallery, New York, NY

1997

Roberta Smith, New York Times

March 25, 1994

Mostly Maine, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, NY

1993

Carl Little, Art New England

Oct./Nov. 1993

On the Edge: 40 Years of Maine Painting, curated by Ted Wolff, Maine Coast Artists, Rockport, ME and the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME

1989

Philip Isaacson, Maine Sunday Telegram

May 30, 1993

J. P. Chedaleux, Ouest France

July 28, 1992

Young Masters II, Ingber Gallery, New York, NY

1989

Vivien Raynor, New York Times

March 26, 1989

Cranberry Island Artists, Maine Coast Artists, Rockport, ME

1988

John Zeaman, The Bergen Record

March 21, 1989

Young Masters I, Ingber Gallery, New York, NY

1988

Edgar Allen Beem, Maine Times

July 15, 1988

The Painting Tradition, Cooper Union Alumni 1965-80, Houghton Gallery, New York, NY

1982

Michael Brenson, New York Times

January 3, 1986


This catalogue accompanies the exhibition Henry Finkelstein: Paintings April 27-May 25, 2013 Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden 6616 Spring Valley Road Dallas, Texas 75254 Tel 972 239 2441 www.ValleyHouse.com

Cover: La Fuye ll, 2013, detail Photo of Arch, Rochefort-en-Terre: Christina Holmes Photo of Henry Finkelstein: Jean-Philippe Lange Design: Elise Ho Printing: Jayroe Printing ISBN Š Henry Finkelstein


h e n ry f i n k e ls t e i n . Va l l e y Hous e G a l l e ry D a l l a s , TEXAS

Henry Finkelstein: Paintings  

This catalogue accompanies the exhibition Henry Finkelstein: Paintings April 29-May 25 Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden6616 Spring V...

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