440 Gallery | Brooklyn NY

Shop talk, answers to your FAQs, and a peek behind the scenes of an artist-run fine art gallery in Park Slope

Fred Bendheim Sculpts a Painting

Growing up in Arizona, I was influenced by many types of art.   I drew inspiration from the art in our home, as well as Native American art, Art In America magazine, and Phillip Curtis (whom I apprenticed with).  In college, I became interested in the art of Marcel Duchamp, William Wiley, Roy DeForest, and Robert Arneson.




I made figurative paintings for many years, and continue to do so.  However, working abstractly has a focus and freedom that attracts me.  The “images” can exist in a pure state, free from the confines of what we see with our eyes.  They are more like images of what I think and feel.  I don’t see a great divide between the abstract and the concrete work.  They both have elements in common; they have to work as paintings/images, sculpture/forms.

My process is usually driven by drawing.  I draw mostly from my imagination. Sometimes I work with found materials, scraps of wood, plastic or paper.  Certain things catch my eye, and it’s hard to explain why.  It’s like I recognize the form, but I cannot have seen it before.  The important (and hardest part) is to connect emotionally to a subject or form. But this usually happens after investing thought and making decisions about the forms.


Tree With Diamonds,36x25,acrylic:wood,


I feel more like a painter than sculptor, but I wanted to take my painting into new areas, including the 3-dimensional.  I make flat rectangular paintings, shaped paintings, relief paintings/sculpture and 3-dimensional sculpture.  Depending on the piece I am working on, I choose the format according to what feels right.


Totems, 96 high


I look for rhythm, movement, and drama while working on a piece.  Often I think of saying multiple things at once.  This creates tension, conflict and hopefully, drama.  Another aspect of my work that I have been asked about is my use of color.  I have to say that although my work is colorful, I do not consider myself a colorist.




Lately I have been working on paper.  After I recently broke my ankle, paper is easier to work with than heavier material.  I like its versatility and variety.  I have been drawing, painting and cutting it, and have made very large installations from it as well.  For examples see my website, http://www.fredbendheim.com.  There you can see “A Song For Harlem,” which was a very large paper installation from 2015.  I especially like the negative shapes that occur when paper is cut.  I also like the relative quickness of working with paper, versus some other media.  By using paper, I can try many variations, moving the paper around in the same piece.



Craftsmanship is not a goal, but a vehicle for expression. I make everything by hand, one at a time, just like the old way of making things.  This is not a philosophical choice, but just the easiest way to get the results that I want.  I am willing to use any technique or material, whatever works.  For example, I don’t like sanding, but often have to sand extensively.  I use a variety of hand and power tools.  Unlike many sculptors though, I still have ten fingers.






This entry was posted on October 4, 2018 by in What's up @ 440.

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