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Henry Balink

 (1882 - 1963)
Henry Cornelius Balink was active/lived in New Mexico, Illinois / Netherland, Mexico.  Henry Balink is known for portrait painting-often Indian, printmaker.

Henry Balink

Biography from the Archives of askART

The following biography is based on "A Portrait of Native America: Indians and the Art of Henry C. Balink, 1882-1963", a biography-in-progress by curator Pieter Hovens.  The author welcomes any information on Balink and his work at: National Museum of Ethnology, P.O. Box 212, 2300 AE Leiden, Netherlands.

Henry C. (Hendricus Cornelis) Balink was born on June 10, 1882 in Amsterdam. His talent and fondness for the arts was discovered in primary school. However, his father refused to let his son pursue an artist career, upon which junior ran away from home at the age of sixteen. Set on becoming an artist, he earned and saved the needed tuition fees by participating in bike racing and skating competitions in the Netherlands, and by working as a stuntman for an American film company. From 1909-1914 he studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Amsterdam with Derkinderen, Dake, Van der Waay and Six, and belonged to the top of his class. After marrying Maria Wessing, he and his bride came to the United States.

Balink worked in New York for a short while, then moved to Chicago where he painted portraits for private patrons and murals at the Lady of Sorrows Basilica. In 1917, the Balinks went west and settled in Taos, New Mexico on Ledoux Street. The sun and landscape of the Southwest lit up the painter's palette significantly. He showed his work at art exhibitions in Santa Fe, Colorado Springs, Tulsa, Kansas City, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, and his paintings of Indians and Pueblo village scenes became popular and a commercial success. Members of the Taos Society of Artists unsuccessfully tried to have him deported from the U.S. They were motivated by professional jealousy, and tried to have Balink deported by accusing him of espionage.

In 1923, Balink settled permanently in Santa Fe where he built an adobe studio on the Old Santa Fe Trail. From here he made numerous trips to Indians reservations in the American West to draw and paint. He also became known for his etchings of Indian subjects, an art and craft he had expertly mastered at the Royal Academy and which he developed further artistically and technically in New Mexico. He invented a new type of crayon and worked on perfecting a duo tone etching technique. From 1926 to 1930 he did much work for patrons in Oklahoma. Oil tycoon E.W. Marland commissioned him to paint portraits of Indian chiefs, and a series of one-man shows were staged in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Ponca City, and Chickasa. He painted on Indian reservations in Montana and Arizona, and began experimenting with photography.

In the 1930s Balink taught mural painting and applied wood sculpture at the Santa Fe Indian School. He painted on the Hopi reservation and on the Sioux reservations in the Dakotas. Fascinated by the art of pottery making, he painted canvasses of Pueblo potters and Pueblo pottery. Several times his works won prizes at the annual Western art exhibitions of Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado.

After World War II Balink painted Indians in Arizona and Montana. He trained George Phippen and advised Dwight D. Eisenhower on his amateur painting, while his work remained a popular success. This popularity explains why so much of his work is still in private collections. Museums with holding of works by Balink include the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, the Albuquerque Museum of History and Art in Albuquerque, the Woolaroc in Bartlesville, the Thomas F. Gilcrease Museum and the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City. Balink died in 1963 and is commemorated in Santa Fe by a bronze plaque in front of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Biography from the Archives of askART
Born in Amsterdam, Holland, Henry Balink became a painter of New Mexico atmospheric landscape and Pueblo Indians as well as a print maker and teacher.  His work has bold colors and strong composition.

At age eleven, he left his home in Amsterdam, Holland to pursue his interest in art.  He studied art for five years at the Royal Academy in Amsterdam where he received strong classical background and the ability to depict images with clarity and realism.  He paid for his education by working as a bicycle racer and ice skater, having no support from his parents who discouraged the pursuit of his art talent.   He then went to New York and Chicago where he did portrait commissions and a large mural and was employed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 1917, he and his wife were in Taos, New Mexico, having had their curiosity aroused by a railway poster in a train terminal. In 1923, he settled in Santa Fe and there came into the subject matter that became the central theme of his work for the remainder of his life--the culture of the American Indian.

With bright colors and bold brushstrokes, he did numerous Indian portraits as well as landscapes, and his painting in New Mexico showed a much lighter palette and looser brush work than his earlier ones.  The natural light was of course an influence as was the need to work fast to capture the activities of the Indian ceremonies.  He also carved his own picture frames.

Source: Thomas Nygard Gallery

Biography from Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery
Born Hendrikus Cornelius Balink on June 10th 1882 in Amsterdam, Holland, Henry learned early on that he would have no support from his parents to enter the art world.  At the age of eleven, he financed his art training at the Royal Academie of Amsterdam by working as a bicycle racer and ice skater and by working as a stuntman for an American film company.  He was also awarded the Queen Wilhelmina Merit Scholarship, which helped him attend the school as a pupil of C.L. Dake, van der Waay, and Derkinderen from 1909 to 1914.

With the onset of World War I in 1914, Henry Balink and his new bride, Maria Wessing, immigrated to New York City and where he took on the name Henry Balink.  On assignment from the Archaeological Museum in Berlin and the Louvre in Paris, he began copying works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and soon became employed by them.

Chicago was his next destination where he began doing murals and taking on private portrait commissions.  Though he had some success at this, Henry Balink was fascinated by the travel poster he saw in a railroad station about Taos, New Mexico.  This led to a brief stay there in 1917 and occasional trips to the Southwest until, after returning home from a visit to Holland and Germany in 1922, he and his wife moved to Santa Fe permanently in 1924.  His made his home and studio on Old Pecos Road for the remainder of his life.

Henry Balink's artistic training was in the classical Barbizon school of tight brushwork and a gray-brown palette.  The intense colors of the Southwest landscape inspired him to brighten his palette.  His excellent background as a skilled draftsman prepared him for the subject matter of the American Indian portraits of over sixty-three tribes that he painted.  In 1927, Henry Balink was commissioned by the Marland Museum in Ponca City to paint portraits of Oklahoma's Indian chiefs.  Balink's vibrant portraits of the Indians were highly successful, so much so that the jealous members of the Taos Society of Artist tried to have Balink deported, accusing him of espionage.

In the 1930s Henry Balink taught art and sculpture at the Santa Fe Indian School. After the second world war, he trained George Phippen and advised Dwight D. Eisenhower on his beginning painting efforts.  Henry Balink invented a new type of crayon and worked on perfecting a duo tone etching technique that he had begun learning while he was at the Royal Academie.  He also carved fine furniture as well as creating beautiful frames which were sold with most of Balink's paintings. Many of these works hang in the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Museum of Fine Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Henry Balink died in Santa Fe in 1963.

1. American Western Art by Dorothy Harmsen, Southwest Art October 1984
2. The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West by Peggy and Harold Samuels.
3. A Portrait of Native America: Indians and the Art of Henry C. Balink, 1882-1963 by Pieter Hovens

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, I
Henry C. Balink
Born: Amsterdam, Holland 1882
Died: Santa Fe, New Mexico 1963

Santa Fe painter of Pueblo Indians, printmaker, teacher

After leaving home at 11, Balink studied from 1909 to 1914 at the Royal Academy in Amsterdam, the pupil of C.L. Dake, van der Waay, and Derkinderen. In 1914, he went to NYC "to do some copying" in the Museum of Modern Art on assignment from the Archaeological Museum in Berlin and the Louvre in Paris. "I moved to Chicago where I had portrait commissions and sold 18 paintings. I made a large mural but they wanted to cut the price for others. I was not satisfied so I wanted to go more West and I landed in Taos where I am now 6 weeks, and all ready I sold 5 pieces," as stated in a 1917 letter. It is said that Balink chose Taos and the West because of a railway poster he saw in a terminal. After returning home from a visit to Holland and Germany in 1922, Balink settled in Santa Fe in 1923. His home and studio were on Old Pecos Road. By 1925, he was exhibiting Indian portraits and in 1927 he received the commission to paint portraits of Oklahoma Indian chiefs for the Marland Museum to be built in Ponco City.

Balink had had a classical master's art education. His graduation piece alone involved almost 300 studies, in the Barbizon tight brushwork and gray-brown palette. In New Mexico, his brushwork loosened and his colors brightened into red and pink and purple. He carved his own frames to be integral with his many paintings of Indians and Southwestern landscapes.

Resource: SAMUELS' Encyclopedia of ARTISTS of THE AMERICAN WEST,
Peggy and Harold Samuels, 1985, Castle Publishing

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About  Henry Balink

Born:  1882 - Amsterdam, Holland
Died:   1963 - Santa Fe, New Mexico
Known for:  portrait painting-often Indian, printmaker

Essays referring to
Henry Balink

Taos pre-1940