Harry Sternberg Biography

Harry Sternberg




Harry Sternberg, painter, muralist, lithographer and educator was born on July 19, 1904 in New York City. At the age of nine he began to take art classes at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. From 1922 until 1926 he trained at the Arts Students League in New York. He rented his first studio in 1926 and began his career in etching, printmaking and painting.

In 1934, Sternberg became an instructor at the Art Students League, where he continued to teach until 1967. Among his students were Sigmund Abeles, Isabel Bishop, Minna Citron, Riva Helfond, Charles Keller, Knox Martin, Karl Schrag and Charles White. Will Barnet was a close colleague and printer for Sternberg and his students. Over the years, he also taught at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, New York University, the New School for Social Research, the Idyllwild School of Music and Art and the Palm Springs Desert Museum in California.

During the depression he was a WPA artist, and his murals are in post offices in Chicago, Chester and Sellersville, Pennsylvania. From 1934 to 1968, he taught painting and graphics at the Art Students League in New York, from 1942 to 1945 he taught printmaking at the New School of Social Research, and from 1959 to 1969 he was head of the Art Department in the Idylwild School of Music and Art at the University of Southern California. Sternberg also wrote several books on graphics, including silk screening, etching and woodcutting.

Sternberg received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1936 and his work was included in the first Whitney Museum Invitational Annual in 1937. During this period, Sternberg was friendly with Mexican artists Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo, and David Siqueiros. Other artist- friends were Jacob Lawrence, Philip Evergood, and John Sennhauser, and the older artists, Rockwell Kent, Marsden Hartley and Max Weber.

Sternberg was a member of the Artists Equity, the Society of American Graphic Artists and the National Academy of Design. Also in the 1930s, he was a supervisor on the graphics division of the Works Progress Administration. Sternberg’s work was included in “America in the War” organized by Artists for Victory, an exhibition that opened simultaneously in twenty-six museums across the country on October 20, 1943. From 1945 to 1967, Sternberg maintained a studio at 30 East 14th Street at New York’s Union Square and moved to California in 1967.

Among the numerous retrospectives of work by Sternberg are those at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and Wichita State University in 1975, at which time the University published a catalogue raisonne of his prints; “The Prints of Harry Sternberg” the San Diesgo Museum of Art in 1994; and “No Sun Without Shadow: The Art of Harry Sternberg”, California Center for the Arts, Escondido, 2000. The Athenaem in LaJolla, California held several exhibitions of work by Sternberg, including “A Life in Woodcuts” in January, 1992, and “Harry Sternberg 1904-2002: A Celebration of his Life” in June/July, 2002.

Harry Sternberg died on November 27, 2001 in Escondido, California.

Credit: IFPDA and other sources.