William A. Karges Fine Art Presents:

Henry Villierme

(1928 - 2013)


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Henry Villierme - Biography


Henry Villierme was born in San Francisco, California in 1928, and was a “second generation” member of the San Francisco Bay Area Figurative School that emerged between the 1940's and 1960's. Both Richard Diebenkorn and David Park were prominent members of the original group, which applied abstract expressionist technique to realistic subject matter as an alternative to mainstream art, specifically the style of abstract expressionism that was popular in New York.

Villierme's mother died when he was three years old, and he then returned to his father's family in Tahiti. When he turned 11, his father remarried and Villierme moved back to California to live with his father and his new wife. His stepmother noticed his artistic talents and suggested he enroll in art school at the California College of Arts and Crafts. He studied there under Richard Diebenkorn, who was a strong influence on, and lifetime supporter of Villierme and his talents. He also studied under David Park, eventually graduating with a degree in fine arts, specializing in painting. In addition, he had the opportunity to study with the great Japanese abstractionist and abstract calligrapher, Sabro Hasegawa. During this period he also attended several classes at the California School of Fine Arts, with fellow students Manuel Neri and Bruce McGaw.

His GI Bill money allowed him to attend school and pursue a career as an artist. During the war he worked as a truck driver and spent a lot of time in Japan, where he was influenced by “the look of Japan, even the smell of it, and the way in which the concern for art values was a part of the Japanese people's way of life”.

In 1957 Villierme's painting “Highway” won the second award at the Jack London Square Art Festival, and his painting “Lake View” won first place at the Oil and Sculpture Exhibition at the Richmond Art Center. The pivotal 1957 Exhibition of Figurative paintings at the Oakland Museum, organized by Paul Mills, included three paintings by Villierme. The following year, he won a prize at the 1958 Los Angeles County Museum of Art Exhibition, “Artists of Los Angeles and Vicinity”, with his painting titled “Landscape”. His paintings were also displayed at exhibitions at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Art.

In the late 1950's, Villierme then disappeared from the art scene, even though he was successful and well recognized. He worked various manual labor jobs in Southern California so that he could count on a steady income to support his family. He moved with his family to Ojai, where he worked as a maintenance man at a private school.

In the late 1980s Villierme slowly began a comeback and started to paint again. In the late 1990s, near retirement from a non art related job, he was “re-discovered” by an art dealer living in Ojai, California.

He was known for his abstract figurative work, as well as his semi-abstract works, including his large, colorful interpretations of California landscapes. The artist passed away on March 13, 2013.






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