Exhibition Dates: October 29, 2007 - November 23, 2007
Reception: Thursday, November 1, 6-8 PM
Although Sam Feinstein was recognized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art as an exceptional artist at the age of only 20 and included in their show American Masters, and his drawings were featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s retrospective of Hans Hofmann and his students, Feinstein’s unique contribution to modern abstract painting has previously been known to a select few. Born in Russia, emigrating at the age of five, and raised in Philadelphia, Feinstein graduated with honors from the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art and became well known as painter, printmaker and teacher. During WWII, he served as an artist/illustrator for the U.S. Army, and received training in filmmaking. Feinstein began working in NYC in 1947, and from 1949 to 1952, studied with Hans Hofmann, an experience that led to the creation of a thirty-minute documentary film titled “Hans Hofmann”, co-written with Hofmann, filmed, edited and produced by Feinstein and previewed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Feinstein worked as contributing editor for Art Digest magazine from 1952 to 1955, and at Hofmann’s request, wrote a preface to a Hofmann show, an essay that the dealer Sam Kootz later referred to as “prophetic.” In 1952 Hofmann wrote “Mr. Feinstein is a highly gifted and versatile artist with a pronounced standing of his own…and with a deep understanding of the plastic problems in painting.”
After exhibiting extensively in New York, Philadelphia and Provincetown, Feinstein withdrew from the exhibition world at the end of the 1950s in order “to clarify certain principles” in his work, and to dedicate himself fully to painting, teaching and writing about art. During the next forty years, Feinstein painted continually as he developed a new, more classical approach to gestural abstraction. The refinement and precision of each color note, inspired by mosaic tesserae, evolved over years as Feinstein painted, under-painted, and repainted, mixing subtle, pure hues and juxtaposing each color-form to create vibrating, radiant and evocative compositions. Elizabeth Ives Hunter, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Museum of Art, calls Sam Feinstein “an extraordinary painter/teacher whose impact on American art has been severely undervalued to this point.” In 2008 the publication of a monograph and a retrospective at the Cape Museum will reveal the seventy-year trajectory of Feinstein’s development from realism through expressionism, cubist-expressionism, Hofmann-influenced abstraction to Feinstein’s own unique language of color—luminous and life-enhancing—in his monumental, mature canvases. This exhibition at The Painting Center will feature Sam Feinstein’s paintings from 1960 through 2003.