Henry Glintenkamp, American (1887 - 1946)

The painter and illustrator Henry Glintenkamp (1887-1946) is known mainly for his anti-war illustrations that appeared in The Masses and other publications in the early twentieth century.  As a painter, he was additionally successful, particularly in his landscape and urban scenes.  Born in Augusta, New Jersey, the son of Hendrik and Sophie Dietz Glintenkamp, Henry received his elementary art training at the National Academy of Design (1903-06) before his study with Robert Henri the two years following.  One student’s recollection of Henri’s classes, that of Helen Appleton Read, gives an indication as to the influence he effected on students such as Glintenkamp: “The old idea was to learn to draw the figure before the student had ideas.  Henri’s idea was to have ideas first, paint pictures, make compositions, which is the same thing; learn to draw as you go along.  He taught us to paint from the inside out so to speak, try to find out that inner thing that made one particular man or woman different from any other man or woman. (William Innes Homer, 1969, p. 150).

Henri consequently attracted artists like Glintenkamp interested in returning to a sense of human qualities.  Setting up his studio in the Lincoln Arcade Building with Stuart Davis and Glenn O. Coleman, Glintenkamp did work that reflects a preoccupation with urban scenes and landscapes.  These works are broadly handled with heavy impasto and rapid strokes, but all retain an enigmatic quality undoubtedly intensified by his use of a more tonal palette of misty shades.   His urban scenes appear through a sort of mist.  Despite his limited palette, there is no sense of quietude in the artist’s work, nor is there any predominance of figures as in a more popular genre scene.  Instead, the focus would seem to be the relationship not of man, but of nature to her environment.  Glintenkamp’s expressive works rely heavily on mood, attained from darkened tones, as well as a strained or unpredictable display of nature. “Henry Glintenkamp’s art is marked by a sensuous and vigorous paint surface which no doubt was the first encouraged and perhaps even inspired by the teachings of Robert Henri.” (Fort, 1981, p. 27).

In May of 1910 Glintenkamp exhibited his works as a student at the Henri School (Sloan, 1906-13, p. 418) and at the Exhibition of Independent Artists of 1910.  Two years later,  he accepted the position of instructor at the Hoboken Arts Club in New Jersey and in 1913, he took up with others in the organization of The Masses, designed as a publication devoted to humanitarian causes.  This publication stood in stark opposition to war, as its articles and cartoons reflected pacifism: “Of course some were more vehement than others in their objections to the ‘immorality of armed conflict’. . . not overly subtle in their artistic protests, which in some ways indirectly reflected President Wilson’s isolationist policy” (Love, 1985, p. 380).  Of his cartoon, paired with an article entitled “Making the World Safe for Democracy,” by Boardman Robinson, one noted that it might “‘breed such animosity toward the Draft as will promote resistance and strengthen the determination of those disposed to be recalcitrant,’ but it did not tell people that it was their duty nor to their interest to resist the law” (Young, 1939, p. 321).  At the Armory Show (1913), Glintenkamp exhibited The Village Cemetery.  In 1917, Glintenkamp moved to Mexico to avoid the draft, and remained there until 1924, supporting “the socialist agenda of Mexico’s new leadership.” (Boone, 1998-99, p. 66).

The period following 1917 marks a new phase in the artist’s development.  Brighter in color and compositionally more involved, his later works are more discordant than the artist’s earlier work. The artist sacrificed the atmospheric quality of the limited palette for the increased influence of modernist movements.  After extensive travels in Europe, Glintenkamp returned to New York in 1934, and became a teacher at the New York School of Fine and Industrial Art and the John Reed Club School of Art.  As chairman for the committee responsible for the organization of an Exhibition in Defense of World Democracy, in 1937, Glintenkamp continued his humanitarian purpose, though never really took up with the socialist rebels, many of whom followed similar groups and publications.  Indeed, Glintenkamp was instrumental in founding the American Artists’ Congress; he continued serving its needs as both the organization’s president and secretary.  A peripheral member of the impressionist-tonalist group in his early career, Glintenkamp had progressed through many American movements by the time of his death in 1946.

Sloan, John. John Sloan’s New York Scene. From the Diaries, Notes and Correspondence 1906-1913. Ed. Helen Farr Sloan. New York: Harper and Row, 1965, pp. 418, 606; Young, Art. Art Young, His Life and Times. New York: Sheridan House, 1939, pp. 320, 321, 324, 332-33; Homer, William Innes. Robert Henri and His Circle. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1969; Fort, Ilene. “Henry Glintenkamp (Graham).” Arts Magazine 55 (June 1981): 27; Leff, Sandra. Henry Glintenkamp 1887-1946: Ash Can Years to Expressionism. Paintings and Drawings 1908-1939. Exh. cat. New York: Graham Gallery, 1981; Zurier, Rebecca. Art for the Masses: Radical Magazine and Its Graphics, 1911-1917. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988, p. 165; Boone, M. Elizabeth. España: American Artists and the Spanish Experience. Traveling exh. cat. New York: Hollis Taggart Galleries, 1998-99, pp. 66-67.

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