Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Henry Finkelstein interview at the Jerusalem Studio School blog

January 14, 2010 by  
Filed under interviews, landscape painting, notable painters

Henry Finkelstein The Greenhouse III, oil on canvas, 34 x 46 inches
Fascinating interview with Henry Finkelstein on the Jerusalem Studio School blog by Rebecca Harp, he is currently teaching a landscape painting workshop there. Henry Finkelstein graduated from the Cooper Union and the Yale School of Art and is a former Fulbright fellow and has taught drawing and painting at the National Academy of Design in New York. A 2003 Art in America article stated; “… he renders the landscape in a loose, lyric manner that makes him heir to the abstract-leaning, nature-based esthetic of his much-admired parents, Gretna Campbell and Louis Finkelstein.”

From the Bridge at the Bois Brehan II, oil on canvas, 40 x 44 inches

The below quote from his statement on his website reveals some of his thinking behind these compelling landscapes.

Although it may not be the first thing one notices about my paintings, their dynamic is largely influenced by the Abstract Expressionists. I need not to know exactly how a painting is going to come out, or even if it will succeed. I discover the meaning of each painting as I go along. Usually I have a hint of a theme or I know how I want to go about a painting, but the final outcome is always a surprise to me. Nevertheless, unlike strictly abstract painters, I paint mostly from direct observation. Nature offers me a necessary resistance that I find challenging.

I also appreciated what he said in the interview:

How do I define a successful painting? One in which something fresh is arrived at and is clearly stated. A failure? I’m as disappointed by a painting that I know too well from the start as I am in one that just becomes a hopeless mess.

There are a number of high resolution images(click on image) of his recent work on the JSS blog – I find it greatly helps to see the work with the higher resolution versions.

Potting Shed, oil on canvas, 51 x 54 inches

Pond, Sunny Day, oil on canvas, 43 3/4 x 45 3/4 inches

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22 Responses to “Henry Finkelstein interview at the Jerusalem Studio School blog”
  1. John Lee says:

    Very nice, Larry. Thanks for Posting.

  2. Katerina says:

    I wrote I like them.

    And then I was told my comment was too short.

    • Larry says:

      Hi Katerina,
      Sorry you had trouble posting your comment, I’ve no idea why. You should be able to post any length you want as far as I know – short or long. The only trouble would be if you posted a number of urls – then the spam filter kicks in and may reject it. Please try again or send me your comment directly ( and I can post it for you. Again, my apologies.
      If it continues to be a problem I’ll investigate further.

  3. Katerina says:

    That’s okay, don’t worry. That’s why I elongated my comment by saying that the too short one didn’t work so everything was accepted and it appeared.

    Thank you,

  4. These remind me of Nell Blaine a bit. Would love to see them in person…In contrast to the following post, where the color was more like rainbow cake frosting, these give the feeling of being outside and actually experiencing light as it passes through the landscape.

  5. Couldn’t remember the other painter these called to mind ’til stumbling over the part of his interview that said his mother was…Gretna Campbell; love when it all comes together that way!?!

    • Larry says:

      Somehow I missed hearing or learning about Gretna Campbell. I’m thinking of putting together an article on her as there isn’t much online that I could find. If anyone knows any good links about her or has images of her work I’d love to see them.

  6. Got a Tibor de Nagy catalogue with three color reproductions. Can scan them for you if you’d like.

    • Larry says:

      Dmitry, that would be awesome if you have the time. After spending more time with researching her work and looking harder for other images I may also try and contact Henry Finkelstein himself to see if he would be willing to help. It always surprises me that so many excellent painters get lost in the cracks over time.

  7. John Lee says:
    Norman Turner is a landscape painter who was a student of Gretna Campbells. He wrote about her at least once. Jed Perl wrote a bit about Campbell as well, I believe in his book ‘Gallery Going’. Turner and Campbell both liked to paint very large paintings outdoors.

  8. Bill White says:

    Henry seems to have gotten much from his parents as painters, a sense of adventure and taking risks with each new work. The vigor of his brushwork is a signal for me that he is intensly connected to the tool as it hits the canvas surface. There is energy in his color as well as touch.

    His father wrote a great essay in 1971, “Thoughts on the Painterly” which I take as a creed for many painters like myself too.

    Bill White

    • Larry says:

      Hi Bill, thanks for your comment and the information about the essay. Any way to read Henry Finkelstein’s full essay online? I just googled it and did find an article that refers to it and quotes it in part… I’d love to have the full text, I’ll put it up on this blog if I can track it down.

      In an essay, “Thoughts About Painterly,” which appeared in the Art News Annual for 1971, he articulated the ideas stimulated by his period of painting in Provence. This essay contains the core considerations that determined his own artistic process. He identified the most important feature implied by the term painterly as “the projective activity which is involved for both the painter and the viewer.” Painterly he regarded as parallel to the process of consciousness itself; it implies an ongoing effort toward a synthesis, which may remain unstable, as opposed to linear, hard-edged forms involving little “projective activity.” “Painterly gets involved with the ambiguous and the equivocal, the variously nuanced, because these are problems of the real, problems of the structure of consciousness, problems of the interplay of public and private language and their possibilities” (p. 19). He emphasized that perception is not merely mechanical but has a subjective component from which the poetic nature of an artwork derives. Although well versed in science he ultimately looked beyond it for the significance of a work of art. “Our perception of color does not proceed passively on a mechanistic one to one basis between display and reception, but is projective and complex… It is the little flickers of non-scientific meaning which are convincing and which abide and the scientific meanings which are ephemeral” (p. 24).

  9. Just got that book, Larry. Did you want me to scan the pages with that article and send them to you?

  10. Larry says:

    That would be terrific Dmitry, if you have the time and energy. This stuff is often so difficult to find so it is great to have this opportunity to share. thanks!

  11. Bill White says:

    These citations show how Louis Finkelstein saw the role of the painterly as a way of seeing and translating experience into form. The painterly is not just a “wiggly” brushstroke, but a synthesis of the perceived and the sensual and the unconscious, and the painting is the evidence of this unfolding process as the work is made, and discovered. The “noise” that surrounds so much of what passes as art today just ignores these important ingredients of human experience, for the sake of being novel or “current”. The relevance of LF’s ideas remain as vital for me today as they did in 1971 when I first read them.
    Bill White

    • Larry says:

      Thanks for your comment Bill. Great synopsis of the Louis Finklestein article. Someone just sent me that article, very thought-provoking and I’m planning on making it available and also write a post about Louis Finklestien’s work and influence.

  12. Love Henry’s work..such a combination of his wonderful parents!

  13. Dear All,

    Finally! We’re getting a website up of Gretna’s work. Please check it out: It’s still being developed, I need to add more of her later work from the 80’s, titles of what I do have, and any other articles any of you may know of. But I just didn’t want to wait any longer to put the site on line. It has some very good figure paintings of hers as well – which impressed many in the 70’s but haven;t been seen much since.

    Regards to All,


    • Larry says:

      terrific news Henry. I will be writing a new post very soon and will mention this as well as link to the site. Thanks for putting together such a great resource and tribute. It is a gorgeous site with excellent images.

  14. Is there a catalogue of Gretna’s figure works?

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