Sylvia (Scheuber) Fein (1919 – )

Titled: Pregnant Lady Beset by Fears Oil on Canvas, measures 24x30 singed lower left, dated 1950 Farhat Art Museum Collection.

Titled: Pregnant Lady Beset by Fears
Oil on Canvas, measures 24×30
singed lower left, dated 1950
Farhat Art Museum Collection.

The 2012 exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
entitled “In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States” includes works in a variety of media
dating from 1931 to 1968, and some later examples that
demonstrate Surrealism’s influence on the feminist movement. Included in the exhibition are notable works by Sylvia Fein, painter and part of the influential group of magic-realist artists that emerged from the Midwest in the 1940’s. Ms. Fein’s painting, The
Lady with the White Knight, probably best exemplifies her individual style, one whose journey began in Wisconsin. As an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Fein worked with Prof. James Watrous in the art history techniques laboratory. Here, she developed an affinity for experimenting with complex recipes for egg temperas, her favored medium. She also studied drawing with Roland Stebbins and design and commercial techniques with Jon van Koert. Fein, however, always counted Marshall Glasier, who taught her “the value of drawing above anything else,” as the person who most influenced her understanding of art. In fact, Marshall Glasier was instrumental for bringing together the group of artists, which included John Wilde, Fein, Dudley Huppler, Karl Priebe, and Gertrude Abercrombie. In their own individual ways, they each “made art that explored the irrational and revealed the fantastic in the everyday.” Fein and Wilde were especially stricken by the uncertainty of the world during World War II, and their work showed it. While Fein did few paintings that are specifically autobiographical, she closely resembles the women in many of her paintings. In 1944, Fein relocated to Ajijca, Mexico, where she set up a studio and went to work on a series of paintings that were included in her first show with Perls Galleries, 1946. After her husband returned from the war, they moved to northern California. Fein completed her last series of large-scale figure paintings here in the 1950’s. By 1956, she was painting landscapes and seascapes on a nearly miniature scale, capturing the minute details of the swirling waves of San Francisco Bay. To her delight, Fein found herself working with greater spontaneity and achieving faster results than ever before. By the 1970’s, Fein had largely stopped painting to focus on literary pursuits. As recently as 2003 she has resumed painting. Fein exhibited at the Milwaukee Art Institute, 1942-43; Art Institute of Chicago, 1943-44; Whitney Museum of American Art, 1944-46; National Academy of Design, New York, NY, 1946; Perls Gallery, 1946; Sheldon Memorial Gallery, Nebraska, 1947; Toledo Museum of Art, 1947; University of Wisconsin; Wustum Museum of Art, Racine, Wisconsin, 1942; Feingarten Galleries, San Francisco, CA, 1957; Bakersfield Art Museum, Bakersfield California, 2007. In 2005, the Chazen Museum
of Art, Madison, Wisconsin mounted an important exhibition showcasing the works of Fein and her circle of friends entitled, “With Friends: Six Magic Realists 1940-1965.”

 

 

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