Herb Alpert has spent more than half his life as a respected abstract expressionist painter and sculptor, whose work has been exhibited from the U.S. to Europe. Since he began painting in 1969, Alpert has experimented with a number of different styles and materials, perhaps none more unusual than his current medium of choice: organic coffee, as seen in his inspired Coffee Paintings. Alpert’s sculptures, particularly his towering Black Totems series, continue to draw interest with their freedom of form and massive size, with some bronze pieces reaching 18 feet in height. The totems were inspired by indigenous sculptural forms from the Pacific Northwest.
Though Alpert’s work as an abstract expressionist painter has been inspired by a number of different sources over the years, critics noted the obvious influences of American abstract expressionists, as well as the painters of the School of Paris in the 50’s. Yet Alpert cites his single greatest influence as artist Rufino Tamayo, whose work first sparked his interest in painting in 1963.
Alpert’s paintings and sculptures have been exhibited in museums and galleries in the U.S. and Europe including the Tennessee State Museum, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Art Cologne, Art Fair Basel, Galerie Frank Haenel, Germany, Galerie Van der Planken, Belgium, MB Modern, New York City, Ace Gallery, Beverly Hills and the Robert Berman Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, Ca. His work is also in the permanent collections at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles, and the Tennessee State Museum, Nashville.
Herb Alpert’s philosophy as an artist has generally been to create from a purely internal place; “the feel,” as he calls it. “For art to appear,” Alpert likes to say, “the artist must disappear.” Creativity is Alpert’s staff of life. Whether its music, or painting, or sculpture, he launches in headfirst; a soloist, rolling to a rhythm he feels inside, searching for a feeling. “When I paint or sculpt,” he says, “I don’t have anything in mind. I don’t have a goal other than form. I’m looking for that form that touches me and when I find it… I stop.” In 2013, Herb Alpert received the National Medal of Arts Award presented at the White House by President Barack Obama.
Herb Alpert: Black Totems, essay by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp. Curatorial Assistance, Inc., Pasadena, CA, 2010.Herb Alpert: Sculpture and Paintings. Tennesee State Museum, Nashville, TN, 2001
Music for Your Eyes: Herb Alpert Sculpture and Paintings. Texts by Peter Frank and Calvin J. Goodman. Exhibition catalogue, 2001.
Tango Nuevo: The Paintings and Sculpture of Herb Alpert, Essays by Peter Frank and Calvin J. Goodman. Exhibition Catalogue, 1998.
Herb Alpert: Rhythm Paintings, essay by Gerald Nordland. Exhibition catalogue, 1994.
Herb Alpert: Recent Paintings, essays by Peter Frank and Pierre Restany. Exhibition catalogue, 1992.