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  • Herbert Gentry

    United States

    Art Brokerage: Herbert Gentry African-American Artist: b. 1919-2003. Herbert Gentry was a painter whose gesturally abstract works were influenced and shaped by the international career he led, that began with the Harlem Renaissance in which he grew up, took hold in a post-war Parisian art scene, and continued in leading Scandinavian jazz capitals and Manhattan's famous Chelsea Hotel, where he lived in between stays in Europe. Gentry's art is difficultly defined by any established stylistic category. While in Paris, he was taught by Georges Braque, and was profoundly interested in the modernist ideas of Cubism and Expressionism, as well as non-western art. At this time, he became acquainted with members of the CoBrA group who introduced him to ideas of automatism and the concept of the artist as an inherently social being. "Art is mysterious," Gentry explained in 1991. "It's about me, it's about you, it's about my family, my forefather's, my mother's. It's not only me who's painting, it's the people who lived before me, connected with me." This confluence of stylistic influences and artistic theories is evident in his 1940s and 1950s paintings, in which Gentry relied on rhythmic brushstrokes, compressed spaces and nonwestern motifs.His compositions are characterized by vividly gestural mark-making that imply calligraphic roots but can hardly be recognized as sign-writing. Gentry's swirling lines are neither expressionistic nor tachistic, but rather evoke a direct print of movement, made up of quick dashes and elongated strokes. The overlapping forms, fused by line and color, are diligently organized by an inner sense of rhythm that both structure and emanate from Gentry's paintings. Figures, reminiscent of Picasso's revolutionary abstractions and the so-called "primitive" western African masks that inspired him, organically come together in Gentry's maze of lines and bright colors. These figures, that appear more as unconscious reminiscences of a presence rather than an actual silhouette, are alternatively the subject and background of the bustling activity that Gentry projects onto his canvas. Listings wanted.

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