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 Ralf Christian Henricksen  (1907 - 1975)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/Michigan      Known for: painting, murals, art education

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Ad Code: 4
Ralf Christian Henricksen
Lily Dale, 1933 (24" X 32)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Ralph (Ralf) Christian Henricksen   (1907-1975)
The art educator, water colorist, painter, and muralist Ralph Christian Henricksen was born in Chicago, and graduated from Hyde Park High School and The School of The Art Institute of Chicago.
The only son of Danish immigrant parents, he was supported in pursuing an art career by his father, a master craftsman who decorated elegant homes and public buildings.  At the Art Institute, he graduated with a Four-Year Diploma, several awards and prizes, and a Traveling Award to Europe.
On returning to Chicago during the Great Depression, he first painted easel pictures under the Public Works Administration Art Project.  This work led, in 1934 and 1935, to involvement with a government-sponsored painting and sculpture project and the Federal Art Project, a division of the WPA.  He was involved with both until their conclusion in 1943.  His first commission was a mural for the U.S. Naval Training Station at Great Lakes, installed in 1936 (since disappeared).
That same year, he created four murals – Air, Fire, Water, and Earth – for the auditorium at the Edward F. Gorton School in Lake Forest, Illinois.  In later years, Henricksen described the Gorton murals as his “most successful.”  As described by the art professor and critic Eldon N. Van Liere, “What Henricksen achieved here was a decorative charm and a childlike delight unique to his murals, and as a result they held a solid place in his affection.”
Henricksen went on to win six other commissions for the WPA/FAP murals; plus three at the Horace Mann School in Chicago (1937); one for the Monroe, Michigan Post Office (1938); four for the Amelia D. Hookway School in Chicago (1939); two for West Pullman High School in Chicago (1940); one for the Stanton, Illinois Post Office (1941); and one for the US Army Air Base at Scott Field, Illinois (1942).
He later became an art professor at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan and its Summer Art School at Leland, Michigan.  Until his death in 1975, he had numerous exhibitions in the company of such renowned artists as Andrew Wyeth, Ivan Albright and Peter Hurd.
Biography courtesy of the Groton Community Center, Lake Forest, Illinois.
 Information courtesy of Edward P. Bentley, researcher in Lansing, Michigan

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