1909 - 1989
Henri Goetz is a French American Surrealist painter who was born in New York City in 1909. His father ran an electrical plant . He described his mother as a "quasi-academic" because of the two large parenting books she owned. He began drawing because the books told that a child needs a certain number of hours outside in a day, and as such he was not allowed to come home before six. On one rainy day, he made use of his time by drawing. However, he was frustrated with his clumsy drawing, and tore it up. He later asked his mother to beat him for his failure as an artist. When he was eighteen, he left home to attend the Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he studied to be an electrical engineer. However, he started taking evening art classes and began to devote his summer vacations to painting instead of apprenticeship. He decided to enroll at Harvard University where he attended art history lectures with the intent of becoming a museum curator. While attending classes in Fogg Museum, he realized he wanted to be an artist. He left Harvard the next year to attend the Grand Central School of Art in New York City, where he enrolled in morning, evening, and night classes. In July, 1930, he decided to leave America to go to Paris, France using money he had saved working as a golf caddy and as an apprentice electrical engineer. The day after arriving in Paris, Goetz began attending the Academie Colarossi, aiming to split his time between the studios there and those at the Académie Julian and the Académie de la Grande Chaudière. He also frequented the Montparnasse art studios, including the studio of Amedee Ozenfant. He was not interested in formal training, instead looking for somewhere to paint. He began by painting portraiture and studying the nude figure. He stayed in Paris for two years, only returning home once to collect his belongings after deciding to stay in France permanently. However, after these two years, he returned home to stay with his ailing father. After staying with his father for a year, he again returned to Paris. His father died several weeks later. Goetz lived with several other undiscovered artists in France. In 1934, Goetz met Victor Bauer, an Austrian artist. Bauer taught Goetz of the existence of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, and Georges Rouault. Bauer also taught Goetz about Sigmund Freud’s ideology, and avant-garde poetry and music. Through Bauer, he could show his first painting in a show in London. In January 1937, Goetz held his first exhibition at the Galerie Bonaparte with his wife. In 1945, after returning to Paris from several years working with the French Resistance forging documents, Goetz worked with René Guilly on a national radio program called The World of Paris. Goetz visited a new studio each week and, through this, met with artists such as Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Wassily Kandinsky, Julio Gonzalez, Francis Picabia, and Max Ernst. He continued broadcasting for six months before giving his position to someone else. In 1947, Goetz became the subject of a short film by Alain Resnais for the Musee National d’Art Moderne Musée National d'Art entitled Portrait de Henri Goetz. Goetz showed the film to Gaston Diehl, leading Diehl to commission Resnais to create the film Van Gogh in the following year. Resnais went on to win an Academy Award in 1950 for the Best Short Subject, Two-reel film for Van Gogh. In 1949, Goetz began to teach a painting class. The class grew so large that he had to move it to the Académie Ranson. After five years of teaching there, he taught for another five years at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, eventually running two classes due to the number of pupils. He taught at many other schools before finally founding the Académie Goetz. He never charged money for his lessons. Of his students, Goetz said, "Some became excellent artists, and some became fashionable artists, but rarely the same ones became both." In 1968, he accepted a teaching position at École des Beaux-Arts, but the school was closed due to student strikes two weeks later. He then moved to work at Paris 8 University, where he taught painting and etching classes. Goetz and his wife had long worked together to illustrate several books with their etchings. Christine had taken classes in the subject before World War II at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, and had taught Goetz. They collaborated on Georges Hugnet's book, La femme facil, as well as other books. After seeing some of their lithographs, a friend of theirs encouraged them to etch full-time. Johnny Friedlaender gave them a small printing press that he no longer used, and Fin, Pablo Picasso's nephew, helped them modify it. Christine focused mostly on lithography, while Goetz focused mostly on etching. They also helped design silk screens. Citing a lack of patience and methodical ways, Goetz invented carborundum printmaking in the 1960s.In 1968, La gravure au carborundum, a treatise on carborundum printing, was published by the Maeght Gallery. It was prefaced by Joan Miró. Goetz created many abstract prints using this method. Other artists such as Antoni Clavé, Antoni Tàpies, and, Joan Miró, employed carborundum printing in their work. The technique has since been used by printmakers around the world In addition to his carborundum printing research, Goetz undertook extensive research on pastels. Henri Goetz died August 12, 1989 in Nice, France at the age of 79.