"I was born with music. I knew Duke Ellington and Count Basie. I still feel jazz musicians might be the first American painters. Their art was spontaneous."

- Herbert Gentry


Herbert Gentry's experience with art started at an early age - his father was a commercial painter and his mother was a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies. Born in 1919, Gentry's family moved from Pittsburg to New York where he was able to experience the Harlem Renaissance. His exposure to art was due to his mother's social circle of musicians,college professors, writers and actors.

Gentry began to paint as a teenager, taking night classes at Roosevelt High School in the Bronx. He then went on to study business administration at New York University until he was drafted in 1942. The Army was a life-changing experience that took him to Corsica, Algeria, Marseilles, Morocco, Strasburg, and, most important, to Paris - where it was liberated from the Nazis.

After his release from the Army, Gentry intended to go back to NYU but he started thinking about Paris every night. Eventually, he used his GI bill to go back to Paris where he studied at the Sorbonne and La Grande Chaumiere. Gentry was an active member of the expatriate community of African-American writers and painters based in Paris that included Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Chester Himes, Ollie Harrington, Larry Potter and Beauford Delaney. In 1976, he had a retrospective at the Swedish Royal Academy in Stockholm, the second foreigner and the first non-Scandinavian to be so honored. From 1980, Gentry divided his time between studios in New York City and Malmo, Sweden. He passed away in Stockholm in 2003.

Today, Herbert Gentry's work can be found in collections worldwide, including the National Museum in Stockholm, Sweden; the National Museum of Modern Art in New Delhi, India; El Museu d'Arte Expanyol Contemprani in Madrid, Spain; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

  • Always Near
  • Untitled
  • Untitled
  • Opposite Ways
  • Centered One II
  • Consideration
  • Three Generations