Henrietta Milan and the Spirit of American Impressionism
Inspired by the beauty of the natural world and channeling the spirit of the French impressionists, Henrietta Milan creates landscapes that are at once tranquil and full of life. Her use of the palette knife gives her work a wonderful textural surface, bringing the objects of the piece into the viewer's space and blurring the line between the pictorial and the sculptural.
Henrietta was not always interested in art. Born in Chicago to parents of Czechoslovakian and Polish decent, her first passion was gymnastics. She had a celebrated career as a competitive gymnast before retiring to coach professionally. She first picked up the paintbrush in 1972 while seeking to earn extra money to take her family to the Summer Olympics in Munich. Her talent was recognized immediately and in 1979 she opened her home gallery to the public. At first glance one might think that art and gymnastics are two diametrically opposed pursuits - one a process of quiet contemplation, the other a frenzy of movement - but it is clear from the energetic forms in Milan's work that her past as an athlete is never far behind her.
Iris 57 (12x12)
Milan has traveled extensively and seeks inspiration wherever she goes. Though, like the original impressionists before her, the landscape of Normandy in France has a special place in her heart. She has been known to make nearly yearly pilgrimages to France to seek inspiration in the collections of the Musee d'Orsay or the gardens of Giverny so treasured by Monet.
Lily 142 (16x20)
Henrietta works primarily from photographs and says that images from just one session are enough to inspire her for a whole year. She paints in her studio in Fort Worth, Texas, layering paint with her palette knife to form her images that are at once sculptures and paintings. The textural surface of her works inspire a kind of wonder - a desire to reach out and touch, to "read" the surface of the canvas like braille. The varied surface of the canvas, paired with Milan's attentive eye to light and color create an image that seems to move and live as the light changes.
Poppy Fiesta (36x36)
Milan's work is featured in collections all over the world including in private collections in Indonesia, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, New Zealand and Japan. An avid philanthropist, Milan routinely gives back to her local communities and has been regularly lauded for her charitable work.