Ernest Fiene

Artist Biography

Born in Elberfeld, Germany, Ernest Fiene came to the United States in 1912, and found success in the graphic arts, painting, and drawing, becoming known for his urban, industrial, and rural scenes. He studied at many of the best art schools of his time, including the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, the Art Students League, and the National Academy of Design, where he was a student of Leon Kroll. Around 1925, he became fascinated with depicting the intensity of New York City. While studying in Paris in 1928–1929, his work was influenced by cubist principles, which he incorporated into his New York scenes upon returning to the United States. After a successful solo exhibition at the Whitney Studio Club in 1923, his work was included in some of the most prestigious and influential exhibitions of the coming decade, including the Museum of Modern Art’s 1931 Painting and Sculpture by Living Americans, and the first Biennial of American Painting at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1932. His status as a nationally exhibited artist brought him opportunities internationally; in 1932, he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship to study mural painting in Florence, Italy. Back in the United States, Fiene began summering on Monhegan Island, Maine, where he painted seascapes and harbor scenes. From the late 1930s through the early 1950s, he held teaching positions at Cooper Union Art School, the Art Students League, and the Ogunquit School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. In 1952, he was elected a full academician at the National Academy of Design. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others.

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