Henry Villierme -
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
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.