Painter Henri Goetz 1909-1989 | Obituary by William Gear and Postscriptum
by Alan F. Sundberg
The obituary about the life of the painter Henri Goetz was written by William Gear,
a friend who was also a painter [1915-1997]. It was published in the UK newspaper,
The Independent. But in my opinion, there were some important facts missing. We
should keep in mind, that Gear wrote this at the age of 74-yrs and possibly he just
forgot or wasn't really informed about all the events. An obituary written by a friend,
carries far greater weight and responsibility - than the biographical notes listed in an
art exhibition catalogue.
There are similiarities in the painting styles of both artists. Their works are also shown
in the same galleries (for example Redfern Gallery in London).
To my knowledge, Henri
Goetz never wrote about Gear's paintings - while Henri did write about my paintings.
I met Henri in 1973 in the atelier Grafica Uno of Giorgio Upiglio in Milan, Italy, where we
both created and printed our graphic art works. Henry was my house guest many times
in Milan and Venice; and I was his guest in Paris and in the South of France. I knew
Henri from a later and different epoch than William Gear had known. I also exhibited with
Henri in shows in Venice and Udine and we remained friends during a period of 16 years.
I will add my personal knowledge of events as a postscriptum. Should anyone be
planning a new catalogue on Henri Goetz's work, I will gladly share my information.
(Alan F. Sundberg, Berlin)
The Painter Henri Goetz by William Gear
[The Independent, 29/8/1989]
Henri Goetz was a focal personality in the heady days of post-war Paris, a period now
referred to as the "heroic years".
It was time when artists of the calibre of De Stael, Poliakoff, and the painters from the
"CoBrA" group - Appel, Atlan, Constant and Corneille - all of whom had been in hiding
or in exile during the occupation, came together again to form the new Ecole de Paris.
They were hardly names then - it was news when one of them sold a painting - but they
were destined to become the acknowledged masters of post-war European art.
Goetz and his wife, the painter Christine Boumeester, had suffered much privation in
the unoccupied zone of France, working for the Resistance and moving from place to
place. Once the war was over, even though accommodation, rationing and scarcities
were a problem, Paris was still Paris, we were all in the same boat, and Henri and
Christine Goetz's studio in the Rue de la Grande-Chaumiere became a haven for their
It would be too generous to nominate Henri Goetz as one of the principal figures of
post-war Paris. However, the solid evolution of his art from a somewhat erotic
Surrealist fancy to a personal definitive abstraction, is a significant contribution to the
legacy of the period. His activity as a teacher, with a gentle but persuasive approach,
an insistence on the value of technique, born in part from his early mastery of
engraving, benefited scores of students who came to him over the years.
Though he was born in New York in 1909 and educated in America, his English was
distinctly accented, from a desire, one suspected, to sound really French. He did
indeed become a naturalised French citizen. Apart from exhibiting jointly with Goetz in
the 1949 Salon des Realites Nouvelles, and other salons, I participated with him and
two other painters, Atlan and Goebel, in an exhibition in Mannheim entitled "Four
Painters from Paris", which received little acclaim or financial return. We packed all the
works in one large case in Goetz's studio and took it to the Gare de l'Est on a
hand-cart, Gear pulling and Atlan "steadying" at the back.
The last encounter was at the opening of my exhibition at the Galerie 1900-2000 in
Paris on 29 February 1988, where Goetz joined us, accompanying Olga, the widow of
Picabia. After 30 years, he still looked the same. He was now one of the old masters
of Paris, a Paris he had known for over 50 years. The loss of Christine 15 years ago
was a blow to Goetz. At the end, there was little to look forward to, suffering as he was
from a serious illness and wife a life's work achieved.
Some thoughts about Henri Goetz by Alan F. Sundberg:
Dear reader, it is the responsiblity of the living, to maintain the trust of the dead; and if
possible, and when possible, to set the record straight - otherwise these shreds of
information are misplaced and maybe never get pieced back together again ... [contact me]