University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Brenda Bettinson collection, 1996-2009

Full finding aid (pdf)

Collection Scope and Content

This collection contains a festschrift book created for Bettinson by Mathias Fine Art in 2009, composed of color and black and white reproductions of Bettinson’s work and essays by 24 contributors, five of whom are women of Maine: Paola Biola, Georgiana Peacher, Cordula Mathias, Britta Konau and Genetta McLean.

Biographical/Historical Note

Brenda Bettinson was born in 1929 in England and her art education took place at St. Martin’s School of Art (1946-1948) and the Central School of Arts & Crafts (1948-1950) in London. Following that she studied in Paris, painting at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and Etruscan and Roman art and archeology at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, University of the Sorbonne. In the late 1950s she moved to New York and worked as a graphic designer for the New York Fine Arts Guide, hosted a weekly radio program “Art in New York” and had solo shows in New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts.

During her teaching career she taught art on the three campuses of Pace University, creating the art department on the Westchester campus and later chairing the Department of Art and Design. She lectured extensively outside of the university, published numerous articles on art history and exhibited widely in New York and other US cities. In 1966 she was awarded the Gold Medal of the National Arts Club. At age 60, she retired and moved to her home on Barter’s Island, Maine, to devote herself full-time to her art.

Cordula Mathias, at whose gallery, Mathias Fine Art in Trevett, Maine, Bettinson showed her work regularly, says that when Bettinson moved to Maine from New York, “a significant change occurred in the artist’s output; from very large neo-expressionist paintings featuring the human form to smaller, more carefully executed paintings having for their subject the natural and man-made objects of the Maine island landscape. This period reveal(ed) Brenda’s increasing and continuous concern with problems of human perception, her investigation of four-dimensional phenomena and as always a dynamic and innovative approach to composition.” (from Mathias’s biographical sketch in “At 80: A Festschrift for Brenda Bettinson,” published by Mathias Fine Art in 2009). In addition to the gallery in Trevett, Bettinson has shown her work at Unity College, Bates College, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art and the Ogunquit Museum of American Art.