THEIR LIVES IN ART: ROBERT HENRY and SELINA TRIEFF
"The film definitely speaks to an audience of those who are thinking about making art, those who are struggling to become artists, and also those who collect and view art." - Philip Yenawine, Author, How to Look at Modern Art
"My advanced painting class response to this film was that it is absolutely right on target in helping students discern the difference between spending your life making art, an art career, being a famous artist and balancing priorities." -Ellie Siskind
Painting Faculty, Indianapolis Art Center
"This is the most honest, straightforward, no nonsense artists' video that you will ever see, yet it's often quite funny." - April Kingsley, Curator, Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University
Art students love
Their Lives in Art!"
Comments from students in a Beginning Painting Class, Northern Illinois University:
- I liked the the artists' view of how they work, the process of making art, I connected with them, felt I had something in common with them.
- A great motivational piece....
- I appreciated the struggle of getting one's art seen...
- It was inspiring, it gave me quite a few ideas, it made me feel happy...
- I want to live a life like theirs.
- It was inspiring to see that his (Robert Henry's) view on creating a painting isn't all set and planned, but spontaneous and intuitive, coming from a deeper place. I also enjoyed his explanation on how the art work is not a set creation but a constant change, until he feels it's done.
- I really enjoyed the cuts between the children's perspective and the parents. It put into perspective how things such as having children affects the artists work.
- Very revealing, entertaining, and reassuring as one who wants to be an artist.
- I loved seeing art and lives forming.
Their Lives in Art : Robert Henry and Selina Trieff, a one hour documentary, is the story of the life and work of two painters whose nearly 50 years of married life has been devoted to the making of art. It is a film which will provide insight and inspiration for all art students and working artists, as well as writers, musicians and those who work creatively in any medium.
The video explores the questions: What does it mean to live an "artist's life" in modern times? Can someone truly be an artist, without the celebrity and the big money that goes with the big time, and still function in the real world?
Robert Henry and Selina Trieff, who work and live in New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts have lived the artist’s life fully and completely. This is their story, from falling in love in the 1950's while studying with Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt in New York and Hans Hoffman in Provincetown, to many years of painting, almost reclusively, in a wooded studio on Martha’s Vineyard, finally returning to Provincetown where, over the past eight years, they have become leaders of that renowned artistic community.
The documentary demonstrates what it takes to commit to such a life, sustain it, and believe in it no matter the degree of public acceptance over time. Throughout the business of normal family life - raising children, earning a living, dealing with the business of art and trying to establish their names as artists - they never wavered from their constant devotion to producing art. Theirs is a remarkable story of aspirations, frustrations and ideals. It is also about how art is made and what ideas evolve into art.
The project is the result of more than a decade of filming the artists in their different worlds by Marjory and Robert Potts, who have been working as film and video producers from their studio on Martha’s Vineyard for over twenty years. They have known the artists since the late 1960's and say they made this film “ truly for love because it is a subject that goes to the heart of the creative process, whether in art, writing or music.” The producers believe the story will be “especially meaningful to young artists but also to anyone who cares about painting or what it takes to create original work in any medium.”
Original music for the documentary composed by Nick Balaban, a multi talented musician whose credits include the music for the popular children’s program, Blue’s Clues on Nickelodeon.
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About the Artists: Robert Henry and Selina Trieff are major figures and role models for other artists in the very intense and respected Provincetown art scene. In addition to their daily commitment to painting, something they’ve done nearly every day of their lives for the past fifty years, Bob Henry is President of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum and Selina Trieff is on the Collections Committee. They both teach in the Fine Arts Work Center Summer Program, as well as at Castle Hill in Truro and the Vermont Studio School. Robert Henry is also Professor Emeritus of Art at Brooklyn College, NY. Cate McQuaid, art reviewer of The Boston Globe, said of Robert Henry, he “deserves accolades for his complex, mature work”.
Selina Trieff has been called "an American original" by New York Times critic John Russell. In addition to being represented by the Berta Walker Gallery in Provincetown, Henry and Trieff exhibit in various other places: currently they have some drawings at the Denise Bibro Gallery in Chelsea (NYC) and work at the Laurel Tracey Gallery in Red Bank, NJ and the Bechert Gallery in Summit, NJ. Selina Trieff is shown regularly at Ruth Bachofner in Los Angeles; the Art Store in Charleston, WV; the Handsel Gallery in Hudson, NY and Lori Bookstein in New York City. Trieff's work is included in such public collections as the Brooklyn Museum, Kalamazoo Art Institute, Bayonne Jewish Center, Snite Center at Notre Dame, Citibank, New York Public Library, Long Beach Museum of Art (California); Best Products, and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.
"Their Lives in Art: Robert Henry and Selina Trieff is valuable for its subjects alone: Henry and Trieff are serious, committed artists of great talent and maturity and also human beings worth knowing.
Their humor and intelligence shows throughout whether they are reminiscing about their lives, talking about art, or commenting on relationships among partners and families.
The carefully crafted, cleverly pieced-together documentary provides a range of insights from how one decides to be an artist given families who would have preferred more "secure" professions for their kids; how to make a go of training on a shoestring; and how to create a functional family while continuing to make art. The film also shows the artists at work, with voice overs commenting on their process, decision making, and influences.
The film definitely speaks to an audience of those who are thinking about making art, those who are struggling to become artists, and also those who collect and view art.
But the open hearted humanity of Henry and Trieff and the ways in which the film makers help them open up add up to a film of interest even to those who are not already engaged by art. It is rare to find a film that so wonderfully reveals the artistic process and takes a serious look at artists that remains so accessible."
Author, How To Look At Modern Art
Co-Editor, Art Matters: How the Culture Wars Changed America
Former Director of Education, Museum of Modern Art, NY
Founding Director, Aspen Center for the Visual Arts (Aspen Art Museum), Colorado
National Art Education Association Award for Distinguished Service
Museum Educator of the Year
"My advanced painting class response to this film was that it is absolutely right on target in helping students discern the difference between spending your life making art, an art career, being a famous artist and balancing priorities.
"It also has a healthy dollop of wisdom about painting - Robert Henry's careful explanation of walking away and then either returning - or not - resonated with my students.
"All in all, this film is precisely what is needed by art schools to connect for their students the need to be aware of the history of art and one's role in it, however small against the work of making art in one's own unique style.
"The film is beautifully edited and the music is perfect. There is so much value to be gleaned, from the perspective of the daughters to the clear evidence that two artists can spend their lives together and still dance with happiness ... not surviving but prevailing; not non-conforming for its own sake but simply conforming to their vision of a life."
Painting Faculty, Indianapolis Art Center
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