Howard Behrens
 

BIOGRAPHY:

Born in Chicago, Illinois and raised near Washington, D.C., Howard Behrens (1933-2014) grew up during the 1930's and 40's. His father was a printer, and his mom an artistic soul with a flair for design. From the time he received his first water-color set in third grade, young Behrens enjoyed painting, known as "the Artist" in school where he contributed artwork to the newspaper and yearbook. A sledding accident at the age of seventeen kept him bed-ridden for months - during which time he decided to be an artist for good. He went on to earn a Master's degree in painting and sculpture from the University of Maryland, College Park. Throughout a long career as a government graphic artist, Behrens also traveled extensively and continued to develop his talent and explore new techniques, especially inspired by exotic tropical locales, and the quite different beauty of European architecture.

Behrens was one of the world's most renowned palette artists, inspired to create his many masterpieces with a palette knife - a tool artists traditionally use to mix oil paints before applying them to canvas with a paint brush. “I kept changing my style,” he explains. “I feel like every painting is a prerequisite for the next painting. You come across something that really rings a bell and starts you thinking differently, and you continue on with that new technique, style or subject matter. That’s how I eventually got into palette knife painting. It was an evolutionary thing.”

This evolution to today’s rich, distinctive, texturized style has garnered Behrens numerous accolades and honors, including an appointment as an official artist of the 2002 Winter Olympics and the acceptance of many of his pieces into permanent museum archives around the world. Experimentation, says this modern master, is crucial to his success. “I slowly started using the palette knife to paint on the canvas, starting out very fine and thin...then, it got thicker and heavier. Finally, the most amazing thing happened: the act of painting became the subject matter.”

Behrens approaches his creations with what he calls “controlled spontaneity.” He can find worthwhile subject matter wherever he goes, armed with a camera and sketch pad at all times. Back in the studio, images and ideas come together, and sometimes Behrens finds himself applying paint with a palette knife, and other times he'll splash paint onto a canvas and create art by removing it with the knife. In his work are reflections of such artists as Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Camille Pisarro, Alfred Sisely, and Italian palette knife painter Nicola Simbari. At heart, Behrens considers himself an expressionist who has integrated the spontaneous nature of the Impressionist painters.

Often called the "Monet of the 21st Century", Behrens is also a pioneer of the hand-embellished serigraph print. By the early 1980's, his career was really taking off - galleries and exhibition shows from Palm Beach, Florida to 5th Avenue, Manhattan to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills were featuring Behrens richly textured, distinctive palette-kinfe technique to rave reviews. In light of this success, he began publishing limited edition serigraphs with the added feature of personally had-embellishing each print. It was his ability to work quickly and decisively with his trusty knife that made these creations truly unique, yet available to a much wider fan base of eager collectors.

In 2000, Behrens created a collection of works inspired by Monet’s gardens in Giverny, France entitled “A Tribute to Monet.” The show was exhibited at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. in October 2001, and a series of limited-edition prints were created from that collection.

Also a top-selling artist on Princess Cruise Lines, Behrens enjoyed making many in-house artist appearances on art-themed cruises and Connoisseur's Cruises until his semi-retirement in 2011, due to Parkinson's Disease. The spacious manor that was private studio and home to Behrens and his wife for many years was known as "Villa Behrens" and was featured in many design magazines and on HGTV - it was designed and built as a reflection of the artist's multitude of paintings. It was sold in 2011, but lives on in pictures on the Behrens' website, put up in answer to the demand of his many fans.

Sadly, Behrens passed away on April 14, 2014. His memory will live on through the hearts of his friends, family, and collectors across the globe.