(1915 - 1991)
Henry Koerner was active/lived in Pennsylvania / Germany, Austria. Henry Koerner is known for celebrity portrait painting, war posters, magic realism.
Following is an exhibition review, published in the Naples Daily News, Florida, December 5, 2009.
From the Holocaust to JFK, artist Henry Koerner experienced and captured major milestones of the 20th century. Now, the von Liebig Art Center, in conjunction with the Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida, both of Naples, presents Koerner's work in the first major U.S. retrospective of his art since 1984.
Koerner's paintings will be at the von Liebig; his black-and-white photographs will be at the Holocaust Museum.
"This exhibition will open people's eyes to the work of a true master," says Frank Russen, gallery director at the Englishman Gallery of Naples, Atlanta and Vail, Colo., and a board member of the Naples Art Association at the von Liebig Art Center. Russen met Koerner while a college student in 1986, when Russen modeled for the artist and served as his assistant and driver for painting excursions.
Koerner was killed while bicycling in Vienna in 1991.
"Henry's style of painting cannot be defined. It evolved during his career, from almost photo realism to wide brushstrokes of color like impressionism," says Russen.
Not only a painter, Koerner designed World War II posters for the U.S. War Department and served the Army's Office of Strategic Service as chief illustrator at the Nuremberg Trials. He lost his parents and brother in the Holocaust and returned to Europe after WWII as an OSS photographer to document the destruction in Germany and Austria.
Later in his career, Koerner painted 64 covers for Time magazine, a process that involved portrait sittings for several days with the likes of John Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller, Julie Harris and Barbra Streisand.
His widow, Joan Koerner, and her children are offering most of the exhibited works for sale, including some of Koerner's rare early paintings that are priced at $350,000 each. "Art connoisseurs feel owning a Koerner for their collection is important because of the historical significance of the work and Henry's classical training," Russen explains. "Henry's pieces tell stories when you look at them, but he would never explain them, because he knew they could mean different things to different people."
Koerner's work is in the collections of major museum such as the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Modern Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art.
A son, Joseph Koerner, professor of art history and architecture at Harvard and BBC documentary host, will discuss his father's life and art on WGCU public radio at noon on Thursday and give a lecture entitled "The Family Portrait" at 3 p.m. on Friday at the von Liebig Art Center at Cambier Park next to Naples City Hall. Joseph Koerner and his mother will attend the art center exhibition's opening reception later that day, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Naples Daily News, December 5, 2009
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