Artist in Residence: Herbert Gentry
Herbert Gentry, a long-time resident of Harlem, Paris, and Stockholm, spent the spring semester as "Artist in Residence" for the Art and Art Education program. Gentry, whose paintings are represented in museums throughout the world and are a staple in African-American collections, likes to call himself an expressionist and is proud to have brought the powerful message of "New American Painting"-with its great sense of freedom and personal affirmation-to Paris after World War II.
Gentry, who is 81, and a long-time resident of Harlem, Paris, and Stockholm, spent the spring semester as "Artist in Residence" for the Art and Art Education program. Two days a week he painted in the studios in Macy Hall and worked with students. "I don't like to criticize a student but rather encourage him or her to look at the work with a critical eye," said Gentry.
Gentry was one of more than 300 young American painters and sculptors who headed for Paris during the late 1940s and '50s. After fighting in North Africa during the war he took advantage of the G.I. Bill of Rights and a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Paris.
Gentry's wife, Mary Ann Rose, is a doctoral student in the Art and Art Education program and assisted him during his seminar-like days at TC.
Gentry is still quite active, with his most recent exhibitions taking place at the G.R. N'Namdi Galleries in Chicago and Birmingham, Alabama. The exhibits were mini-retrospectives from the late 1950s to the present. Art critic for the Birmingham News, Joy Hakanson Colby, wrote about the essence of Gentry's art. According to Colby, "At first, Gentry's paintings appear as guileless doodles. As you look, though, they reveal themselves as cosmopolitan, speaking in a number of accents-a dash of Picasso, European Cobra Group, abstract expressionism and assorted other 20th century painting styles. The artist weaves these elements into a flexible language that reflects his background."
Gentry uses the wisdom of his age effortlessly. "The older I become, the easier the work becomes," he said. And it shows.
Published Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2001