Black River I Norfolk by Louis Finkelstein

  • Title: Black River I Norfolk
  • Artist: Louis Finkelstein
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Size: 50"h x 40"w
  • Creation date: 1976
  • Added to collection: 2018
  • Donor: Gift of Martha Campbell
  • Campus: Rock Creek
  • Location: B2/2 Hallway gallery
Despite its large size, this painting was likely made on site in Norfolk CT, the location of the Yale summer school, where the artist was on the faculty.  Whether in drawings, pastels or oils, Finkelstein worked directly from nature to find equivalences in paint for his sensations of color, movement and space. Working spontaneously with no preconceived plan like his idol, Paul Cezanne, Finkelstein valued perception over depiction:  the small spots of color (a textbook on mixing greens) and the momentum of their strokes (undulating upwards from right to left) create the feeling of light and wind moving though the trees.
Such painting is sometimes called perceptual painting, but the act of perceiving and painting is never quite so straightforward as it would seem. A year before he painted Black River I, Norfolk  Louis Finkelstein wrote: "Painting becomes crucial in that of all the arts it is the only perfectly static one, whose problems, means and values are bound up in the transfixing into pure and complete simultaneity that which we were only able to know because it was moving.  The time which is transfixed is not the outward time of day or even the process of laying on the paint so as to produce virtuosic marks of the process, but rather the flowing of consciousness ... what really goes on is highly particular, the product of a complex intersection of many strands of events."
Finkelstein was married to the artist Gretna Campbell (also in the Rock Creek Collection).  Their son Henry is also an accomplished landscape painter.