About the Paul Penczner Art Gift

Because of its enormous success in November, the Paul Penczner exhibit/sale taking place at the Memphis Botanic Gardens (Directions) has been extended through the month of December. A cohort of four dozen new works will be installed on December third.

All proceeds from sale of the Penczner collection will support an endowment in the artist's name in the UTHSC Department of Physiology. The endowment will focus on cardiovascular research. For more information about purchasing these or other works, contact Zach Pretzer at pencznergift@gmail.com.

Recognized as a remarkable painter and extraordinary personality, Paul Penczner is known for evocative portraiture and a dizzying array of artistic styles, working in mediums that include oils, watercolors, pen and ink, and large installations. The Hungarian-born artist came to Memphis in 1951 with his German-born wife Jolanda, quickly earning a reputation as one of the city's finest painters and most generous instructors. His portraits hang throughout the city of Memphis and in many private collections elsewhere.

Throughout his career, Penczner's commissioned portraits proved quite popular, providing his family with a steady income. In fact, many years ago it was through commissioned portraits of UTHSC department chairs that he first became aware of the university community. But it was the noncommissioned work he undertook - the painting he did to satisfy himself - that won him critical acclaim and a lasting place in the history of modern art.

"His talent was enormous, and it crossed genres, Memphis never understood how extraordinary and how well received he was."

From the 1950s on, Penczner showed his diverse body of work at more than 70 major art exhibitions throughout the United States, including the Smithsonian, the New York National Academy of Design, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Locally it was shown in the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, and Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

In 1989 a series of pen-and-ink works titled, "Jesus Christ and the Twelve Apostles," was accepted by Pope John Paul II, and was placed in the Vatican Museum of Art in Rome. Penczner had worked and reworked the drawings for 20 years, engrossed in endless studies of the faces of homeless men in downtown Memphis.

To memorialize the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorism attack, Penczner painted "American Starry Night," donating it to the then-commander in chief, President George W. Bush. The work remains part of the White House Collection.