Still Life

Still Life
Henry Albert Botkin
1896-1983
Acquisition Number: 86.26
Medium: Paper
Size: 13"' x 14"
Date: c. late 1920's

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, April 5, 1896, Botkin received his early training at the Massachusetts School of Art. The next eight years, Botkin lived in New York taking classes in drawing and illustration at the Art Students League and worked as an illustrator for Harper’s, The Saturday Evening Post and Century magazines. In the early 20s Botkin went to Paris where he devoted himself to painting exclusively. His first Paris exhibition was at the Parisian Billet Gallery in 1927. In the 30s, Botkin returned to New York and took a new approach to painting, moving away from impressionism and towards abstraction. In 1934, Botkin went to Folly Island in South Carolina with his cousin, George Gershwin. There, Gershwin composed the music for his opera Porgy and Bess while Botkin painted scenes from the opera. When Porgy and Bess opened in New York, Botkin’s paintings were exhibited, and the Metropolitan Museum purchased one from the show. Botkin best explained himself when he stated the following: I have been often asked if my present work is abstract. My answer is no. I am, however, trying to achieve a form of expressionism that is near abstract, by assimilating the natural forms and transferring them into semi-geometrical shapes. I am concerned with a kind of lofty, poetic imagery and my interest in fantasy has led to much invention and the use of calligraphy. With my colors and forms I try to obtain effects that have the feel of music and poetry. Instead of the common-place and representational, I am always seeking for an expression that requires an adventurous imagination and intellect.