One Hundredth Birthday Exhibition
Celebrating the 100th birthday of Henry Faulkner with this major exhibition featuring over 100 Faulkner paintings on loan from 50 private collections including his early to late works, and many that have never before been exhibited. We honor Faulkner's boundless creativity, magical imagination. his use of light, and gift of vibrant color.
Henry Faulkner with his beloved goat, Alice
Henry Lawrence Faulkner, born January 9, 1924 in South Central Kentucky, is known not only for his vibrant, fantastical paintings, but also for his charismatic and flamboyant personality. Some sixty years ago, in the spring of 1957, Faulkner's art emerged on the New York gallery scene with his first sale to Collectors of American Art on 62nd Street. Artist, poet, and blues singer, Faulkner went on to become well-known and celebrated in the art world not only in Kentucky, but well beyond. He caught favor of Hollywood elite including Marlon Brando, Nat King Cole, Ezra Pound, his close friend Tennessee Williams, and Bette Davis, who once gifted him a cat whom he named Miss Davis.
Faced with a challenging early life, his mother, Bessie, died when Henry was two. He was sent to an orphanage in Louisville and placed in a series of foster homes before finally settling with a family in Clay County. His adopted family did not support the work of the budding artist and he found himself on his own at a young age. Faulkner's early twenties were spent traveling, working odd jobs and studying art. Briefly enrolling at Berea College, he then moved to the Corcoran School of Art & Design in Washington, D. C.
His education was interrupted when he was admitted to St. Elizabeth's Psychiatric Hospital for homosexuality, considered to be a mental illness at the time. Upon his release, he attended Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles before returning to Lexington where he made his home. Faulkner became a significant and influential figure in the queer community and is considered an icon in Lexington's LGBTQ history.
Faulkner's perception was fresh and unique. He was smart and witty, and expressed a childlike joyfulness through his art. He quickly saw success with his work, with major exhibits of his paintings across the United States. His prolific career is thought to have produced as many as 5,000 works over the course of three decades.
An animal lover, they became a frequent subject in many of his paintings. Faulkner purchased a farm near Lexington where he cared for his beloved pets, including several cats and his infamous goat, Alice, who regularly accompanied him around Lexington, on his travels, and to his home in Key West where he spent winters.
Much like the beginnings of his life, the end of his life was met with tragedy when he was killed by a drunk driver in a car accident in 1981, at the age of 57.
Henry Lawrence Faulkner lived his legend while he was creating it. This remarkable artist bestowed on us the gift of his imagination and vibrant color that brings joy to those who love his art and appreciate the artist.