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"Everett Raymond Kinstler: Pulps to Portraits" on view at the Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University
Portrait of Tony Bennett, 2006. Everett Raymond Kinstler. Oil on canvas. 36 x 24 inches. Collection of the artist. ©Everett Raymond Kinstler.
FAIRFIELD, CONN.- The paintings and illustrations of one of America’s most celebrated, respected and prolific portrait artists, Everett Raymond Kinstler (b. 1926), are being showcased in Everett Raymond Kinstler: Pulps to Portraits, the newest exhibition at the Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Museum of Art. On view through September 28, 2012, the Bellarmine exhibition highlights a number of the artist’s portraits of well-known personalities from the worlds of government, entertainment, and literature. The show, which was originally organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, also features a selection of Kinstler’s early work as an illustrator of “pulp” fiction book covers, magazines, and comic book pages – pieces that continue to resonate in his paintings to this day.

Everett Raymond Kinstler, who splits his time between New York City (where he has had a studio at the National Arts Club for more than sixty years) and Easton, CT, has produced over 2000 portraits in his career; a career that is far from over for the octogenarian, who continues to paint every day. Highlights among the thirty-three works on view at the Bellarmine include Kinstler’s paintings, in oil, of President Bill Clinton, Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck, Benny Goodman, Katharine Hepburn, Paul Newman, Christopher Plummer, Liv Ullmann, and Tom Wolfe. His works are represented in prestigious art institutions across the country, including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery (which acquired over 100 of his works for its permanent collection), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the White House. A large number of Kinstler’s paintings are also held in private collections.

“Everett Kinstler’s portraits not only capture, with dazzling bravura, the physical traits and characteristics of his sitters, they also convey the essence and character of those he paints,” notes Dr. Jill Deupi, Director of the Bellarmine Museum of Art. “It is this capacity to ‘connect’ that makes Kinstler, like the great John Singer Sargent [1856-1925] before him, a true master of the genre.”

Born in New York City in 1926, Everett Raymond Kinstler developed an early appreciation for the illustration arts, becoming an avid fan of contemporary periodicals filled with the work of top-rate illustrators. He began his own professional career at age 16, illustrating comic strips, books and magazines, in addition to creating covers for paperbacks. Working in the "golden age" of comic book art, he created illustrations for such classic pulp magazines as The Shadow and Doc Savage. His early work taught Kinstler to connect with the reader and to tell a story – essential skills that brought him additional work as a freelance artist. He attended the Art Students League in New York City and studied under the famous American illustrator, impressionist painter, and educator, Frank Vincent DuMond (1865-1961). Kinstler himself later taught at the school, from 1969 to 1974.

In 1949, a touchstone year in his life and career, Kinstler moved into his own “real” studio after DuMond helped him secure a space in the historic National Arts Club in Manhattan, where he continues to paint to this day. That same year, he sought out and befriended one of his artistic idols, James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960), creator of the iconic I Want You World War I recruiting poster. Their friendship continued until Flagg’s death in 1960; a professional relationship that Kinstler remembers as “my greatest influence.” In the 1960s, the artist approached Portraits, Inc., a New York-based company that connects portraitists with sitters. Following several successful commissions, Kinstler made the decision to transition from an illustrator to a portraitist, and soon established himself as one of the nation's foremost portrait painters.

Seven U. S. Presidents – Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – have posed for Kinstler, whose images of Presidents Ford and Reagan are the official White House portraits. He has also painted over 50 U.S. cabinet officers (including four U.S. Secretaries of State), more than any other artist in this country's history. Other distinguished sitters include six U.S. Governors, several university and college presidents, and leaders in the business and health sectors. Entertainers and cultural icons also figure largely on the list of Kinstler’s sitters, which includes Tony Bennett (a fellow painter who regards Kinstler as one of his painting masters), Carol Burnett, James Cagney, Betty Ford, Gene Hackman, Lady Bird Johnson, Peter O'Toole, Gregory Peck, and John Wayne. Other illustrious subjects include Arthur Miller, Ayn Rand, Tennessee Williams, and Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Harry Blackmun. Recent portrait commissions include Donald Trump, Sandy Weill (Weill-Cornell Medical Center), Tommy Lasorda (for the National Portrait Gallery), Christopher Plummer, and the official City Hall portrait of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

In 1999, the artist received the Copley Medal from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, its highest honor. He was awarded honorary doctorates from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco, in 2010, the Lyme Academy College of Art in 2002, and Rollins College in 1983. His memberships include: National Academy of Design (N.A.), Allied Artists of America, American Watercolor Society, Pastel Society of America (Hall of Fame), Audubon Artists, Copley Society of Boston (life), and National Arts Club.

Everett Raymond Kinstler: Pulps to Portraits features an exhibition catalogue with over 60 images, including comic and pulp pages, paper back book covers, easel paintings, portraits, and the artist’s most recent movie series, plus an essay by William H. Gerdts, art historian and Professor Emeritus of Art History at the CUNY Graduate Center. It is available for purchase at the museum. An illustrated exhibition brochure is also available, free of charge.



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