Ernest Fiene Biography

Ernest Fiene




Ernest Fiene, painter, muralist, printmaker, and teacher, was born on 2 November 1894 in Elberfeld, Germany. Fiene immigrated to the United States in 1912 and studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City from 1914 to 1918; overlapping this period Fiene studied at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York from 1916 to 1918, and later studied printmaking at the Art Students League in 1923.

His first exhibition of watercolors, arranged by his mentor Robert Henri, took place in 1918 at the MacDowell Club. In 1923 he had an exhibition at the Whitney Studio Club and, the following year, his exhibition of paintings, watercolors, drawings, and etchings at the New Gallery in New York sold out.

In 1926, Frank Rehn gave him a solo exhibition and, in 1927, Fiene’s solo exhibition of paintings was mounted by the Kraushaar Galleries. The Whitney Studio Club showed his paintings in a two-man exhibition with Glenn O. Coleman in 1928 and acquired three of Fiene’s paintings. That same year Fiene became affiliated with Edith Halpert’s Downtown Gallery where he had an exhibition of twenty lithographs in the spring.

Fiene was in France in 1928-29 and studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. He was greatly influenced by Cubist geometry and the use of flat areas of broad color. Upon returning to New York in 1930, Fiene used this new approach in his paintings. Fiene was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition Painting and Sculpture by Living Americans in December of 1931. He had two mural studies exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition Murals by American Painters and Photographers in 1932. Fiene participated in the first Biennial of American Painting at the Whitney Museum in 1932 and his prints were included in exhibitions at the Downtown Gallery and the Wehye Gallery. In the same year, Fiene was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship to further study mural painting in Florence, Italy.

Upon his return to New York, Fiene resumed an active schedule, participating in two group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum and a solo exhibition of recent paintings at the Downtown Gallery in January 1934. He was invited by the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center to teach during the summer of 1935 and the center mounted an exhibition of his oils and watercolors. In August of that year the Denver Art Museum has an exhibition of thirty paintings and watercolors and the Denver Art Museum showed of Fiene’s lithographs in 1937.

In 1937 Fiene completed a mural for the post office in Canton, Massachusetts. In 1938 he completed a large four panel mural for the Department of the Interior Building in Washington, D.C., and his largest mural for the High School of Needle Trades, was unveiled in 1940. During the war years, much of Fiene’s commission work consisted of painting various phases of industry in relation to the war.

Fiene taught at Westchester County Center in New York from 1930 to 1931; at Cooper Union in New York from 1938 to 1939; and a Saturday class at the Art Students League from 1939 until his death in 1965. Fiene also taught at the National Academy of Design from 1959 to 1964. He was elected an Academician in 1952.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Fiene was represented by Midtown Galleries in New York and had a solo exhibition there in 1959. Fiene was president of the Artists Equity Association in 1953, and remained that organization’s president in an honorary capacity until his death.

Ernest Fiene’s work is represented in the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Massachusetts; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; the Denver Art Museum, Colorado; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

Ernest Fiene died on 10 August 1965 in Paris, France.


Source: D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc.