Henry Martin Gasser (1909-1981)

Henry Martin Gasser (1909-1981)

Henry Gasser with sketchbook in hand, walking the city streets of Newark, New Jersey, was not an unfamiliar sight during the middle of the 20th century. Born and raised in the city, Gasser enjoyed a successful career as first a student and then later as an artist, teacher and writer from its commercial center.  He received his early training at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art and then went on study at the Grand Central School of Art and the Art Students League in nearby New York. There he worked under the guidance of Robert Brackman and the influential Ashcan School painter John Grabach.  

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As a fine art instructor and author, Gasser contributed to American Artist magazine, authored several books on art technique and instruction, and directed the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art between 1946 and 1955. The highlights of his professional career also included over ninety awards for works that he submitted to juried shows throughout the country.  These included the National Academy of Design, the Smithsonian Institute, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Watercolor Clubs of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington.  Gasser also acted as Vice-President of the American Watercolor Society and earned acceptance as an Audubon Artist due to his light hand and appreciation of color in his watercolor paintings.

While Gasser mainly worked from his home in South Orange, New Jersey, he was also fond of the terrain within the small coastal towns of the North Shore of Massachusetts.  He traveled alongside his teacher and friend, John Grabach, to Massachusetts and joined both the Rockport and North Shore Art Associations, where he frequently lectured and demonstrated. His fascination with this coastal landscape earned him recognition for urban street scenes and snow-covered townscapes of Gloucester and its environs.

A common name among Vose Galleries history, Vose hosted solo exhibitions of Gassers work, including a 1952 show of over 25 oils and watercolors. In 2004, Gasser was commemorated by a traveling exhibition organized by the Butler Institute of American Art. Henry Gasser: Beyond City Limits presented his oils and watercolors of the 1940s and 1950s, spotlighting many of his fine North Shore cityscapes executed with the same power of composition and tonal contrast as this scene.

References: See Who Was Who In American Art ; Beyond City Limits, Setton Hall University, Walsh Library catalog introduction, 2004. 

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