Berggruen’s work will be featured in Markham Vineyards gallery beginning February 15, featuring works from her “Coming Home” show.
From Helen Berggruen: “As the pace of life in the 21st Century continues to accelerate at breakneck speed, and new electronic devices enable us instantly to tune out our immediate surroundings, directing our attention elsewhere, my ambition has become to slow down in order to observe the land and cityscapes before me.”
Helen Berggruen’s life as a painter took root here in the shadow of Mount St. John surrounded by the vineyards of Napa Valley.
After years as a stage actor and director, in New York and in Europe, Berggruen returned to her native California, and decided to take up a more practical profession; she became a union apprentice carpenter. This proved to be a daunting and not altogether successful endeavor. She turned to waiting tables at the legendary Diner in Yountville, a hangout for artists, actors and musicians.
These were the wonderful halcyon days of the early 80s. Inspired by this rich atmosphere, she began to draw and paint. Her subject matter was the landscape of Napa Valley with its mighty tractors and trucks, interiors of local businesses like Napa Valley Olive Oil Co., St. Helena Feed and Seed – places and things that truly represented Napa Valley. The owner of the Diner, Cassandra Mitchell, saw her emerging talent and gave her a show, which turned out to be wildly successful.
This made her realize that indeed this is what she should be doing. It was a huge change. And the second big shift came not long after the Diner exhibition when her father visited. Heinz Berggruen was a famous art dealer and collector who lived in Paris and collected and sold the work of many important 20th Century artists, including Picasso, Matisse, and Giacometti. He was a celebrity in the art world. When he arrived and saw her work, he became very excited and encouraged her to pursue this direction. Her father became her biggest fan, mentor and patron.
Fueled by this confidence, Berggruen has worked seriously and diligently for 40 years, producing lively colorful landscapes, still lifes and interiors that are both unconstrained and inviting. She paints expressively, with intense, earthy colors and creates images with their own particular atmosphere. Her work asks the viewer to slow down and look in a new way.
Through the years, her paintings have reflected travels far and wide. Construction vehicles along the Seine, silos and cornfields of Iowa, interiors and still lifes in London … but her home studio remains here in the Napa Valley.
Berggruen’s work has been exhibited in St. Helena, San Francisco, New York, London, and Berlin, and is in the collections of the Springfield Art Museum, Missouri, and the Cedar Rapids Museum, in Iowa. Her work can also be found in several prestigious collections as well as the homes of many friends and family.
Now, she’s returning home to where it all took root. We are delighted to present “Coming Home,” a compilation of the landscapes, interiors and still lifes that have brought such joy over these past three decades.
We invite guests to browse the works of our resident artists of the Markham Gallery, located inside our Visitor’s Center.
Named as one of the world’s Top 10 Best Wineries for Art Lovers (USA Today, 2019), admission is free and open to the public.