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herbert gentry (1919 - 2003)

Lots to be sold at our Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary Art + Design & Watches 14 – 16 May 2024

“I am a painter. I paint because I need to do so. All the people I love and ever loved are often found on my canvases – matter of fact, every experience I have is recorded and may flow on to my pictures.”

Herbert Gentry

The fascinating artistry of the world citizen Herbert Gentry has with a renewed interest recently gained impact from collectors around the world. Gentry had a strong connection to Sweden, where he was active during a few decades with exhibitions and where parts of his family is situated. Presented in this sale are five works from different collections that represent the vivid expressionist impression of this remarkable African American artist. Growing up in Harlem in New York during the 1920s and the Harlem Renaissance, as the son of a dancer and a Ziegfeld girl, Gentry found himself highly influenced by the music, theater and show-biz at early ages. The home of the family became a junction where artists, musicians and dancers gathered, a place with great characters and an everlasting source of fascination and influences. Bright colours, continuous movement, the rhythm and the music forever affected Gentry’s soul and would during the forthcoming decades find its culmination through his paintings.

Gentry initially studied law in New York but was during the early 1940s called to duty during the outbreak of World War II. After the war he longed back to Europe and got a scholarship that made it possible to study art in Paris where he enrolled Sorbonne and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. The post-war era made Paris a center for the intellectuals and creative souls where artists, writers and musicians joined in interplays. Together with his wife, the jazz singer Honey Johnson, Gentry opened a jazz club and gallery that became a venue where fellow compatriots from the States were joined by artist friends from around the world to enjoy the genuine jazz music of the times, connecting old friends with new. After this, in the late 1950s, Gentry continued his journey to Scandinavia and initially Copenhagen where he made himself a name not only in the world of jazz music but also with his artistic career that flourished. Something that would continue during his forthcoming years in Sweden. Even though Gentry had left the States for Europe, he continued a lifelong strong connection to New York’s art- and jazz scenes and was split in a transatlantic career where he constantly was on leave, travelling between his home in Sweden and the legendary Chelsea Hotel in New York. It was Pontus Hultén, the renowned Directof of Moderna Museet in Stockholm that recommended the Gentry family to take an apartment at the Chelsea Hotel as an ideal residence for a year’s stay in New York City. It was also because of Pontus Hultén’s initiative that Gentry was presented with a retrospective exhibition at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm in 1975.

In Gentry’s paintings we find a continuous development and expression that reflects his own life and impressions. With strong connections to his family, with five children, and his large friendships around the world, he made a huge impact on the people he met, who often described him as a true living and present person whose constant curiosity and creativity influenced others. But it was not only the people surrounding him that got affected by the ever so inspirational Herbert Gentry, through his artworks he perpetuated his close connections in his very own way, “Art is mysterious” Gentry has explained, “It’s about me, it’s about you, it’s about my family, my forefather’s, my mother’s. It’s not me who’s painting, it’s the people who lived before me, connected with me”.

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Sofie Bexhed


Tel: 0705-22 61 62

Magnus Bexhed

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Tel: 0705-22 12 04

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