Katzenstein, Irving

Photo of KatzensteinKatzenstein, Irving (1902-1973)

Irving Katzenstein was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1902 and remained a resident there for his entire life. He attended classes at the Hartford Art School and studied under Albertus E. Jones. He then attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts studying under Arthur B Carles. Even after Carles was dismissed from the Academy, Katzenstein and a friend studied with him in an old movie theater. Katzenstein then traveled to Paris, living there from 1928 to 1931. He fell under the influence of Cezanne and Matisse and the avant-garde. After he returned he worked for the WPA from 1938 to 1940, completing forty two easel works of landscapes and still life. Katzenstein was a local celebrity as a result of his teaching and popularity as an artist. In the Greater Hartford area for several decades, he taught at the Ann Randall School for Creative Arts, the West Hartford Art League and the Hartford Jewish Community Center. He sold many paintings to local people, and his work still attracts art lovers. Katzenstein was a member of the aforementioned organizations and the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts and Connecticut Watercolor Society. He won prizes for his oils and watercolors and exhibited throughout Connecticut and New York. He had what contemporaries called a “sensitive style” that was “poetic” and “lyrical.” Although his work sometimes approached abstraction, it held a tension between traditional and modern styles. He once commented that an “idea is the reason for art.” The “great artists,” he continued, “arrived at their painting through contemplation.” Above all, Katzenstein was respected for his craftsmanship, his affable personality, and his style as a teacher that encouraged his students. In a review of a 1956 retrospective exhibition at the New Britain Museum of American Art, Theodore Parker, drama critic for the Hartford Courant, wrote that the exhibition was a “harvest for the quiet eye.” Katzenstein died in 1973, and in the next year the West Hartford Art League, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and the Hartford Jewish Community Center co-sponsored a retrospective of his art at the Atheneum. To this day, Katzenstein and Howard Rackliffe, another WPA painter, remain popular with art collectors in the Greater Hartford area.


Sources: In doing research on Katzenstein, this author utilized theHartford Courant database, but there were so many articles mentioning him, I decided to cite only those that were comprehensive and analytical. The project also received biographical material about Katzenstein and the 1974 exhibition from Michael Shortell, owner of Shortell Framing in Hartford, and is appreciative.  WPA Artist’s Work Card; WPA Biography; Who Was Who in American Art [1985], p. 328;Hartford Courant: “Hartford Painter’s Work in Retrospective Show,” April 15, 1956; “Irving Katzenstein Dies, Arts Academy Founder,” December 14, 1973; T. H. Parker, “A Hartford Painter,” April 21, 1974; Jolene Goldenthal, “Katzenstein Paintings at the Atheneum,” April 21, 1974; Jolene Goldenthal, ”Portraits by Katzenstein Shown,” September 29, 1074. The following are from the Michael Shortell Collection of Materials Pertaining to Irving Katzenstein: Resume (1974?); “League Honors Artist in Show at Wadsworth,” West Hartford News, April 11, 1974; Paul M. Laporte, “The Work of Irving Katzenstein,” (ND); W.M.P.; “Irving Katzenstein, 1902-1973,” typed copy, “Irving Katzenstein,” 8 From Connecticut, Catalogue to Loan Exhibition, April 22-May 29, 1960 Wadsworth Atheneum, p. 14. Also see William Zimmer, “Perennial Favorite in a Compact Show,” New York Times, August 25, 1996.

Works of Art Listed in CT Archives’ database from Irving Katzenstein:

Still Life with Eggplant: oil
Still Life with Pears: oil
Still Life with Artichokes: oil
Still Life with Mirror: oil
Flowers: watercolor
Flowers- Poppies: watercolor
Blown Down Barn: watercolor
Spring Landscape: oil
Plant in Window: oil
Enfield, Connecticut: oil
Near the River: watercolor
White House: watercolor
House by the Road: watercolor
Plowed Fields: watercolor
Below the Dam: oil
Hills Near East Peacham: oil
Barkhamsted Dam: oil
The Burnham Place: oil
Harvey’s Pond: oil
House in the Fields: watercolor
Hills Near East Peacham: watercolor
Farmington River: oil
Straw Flowers: oil
Rainy Day: oil
North of Danville: oil
Poppies: watercolor
Artificial Flowers: watercolors
Ivy: watercolor
Gold Fish: watercolor
Materials for Grinding: watercolor
Peachem Hills: watercolor
Flowers: watercolor
Grapes: watercolor
The River: watercolor
Squash: watercolor
Dead Flowers: oil
Yellow Roses: oil
Presidential Range: oil
Bouquet: watercolor
Tulips: watercolor
Aquarium: watercolor
Office Building: watercolor
Katzenstein, Irving