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Artist, Alexander Flyn

Artist, Alexander Flyn

GRHC - October 7th, 2013

Alexander Flyn, an accomplished Grand Rapids portrait artist, came to this city in 1918 and stayed until his death in 1963. During that time he was active in the local art community.


Alexander Flyn was a popular Grand Rapids portrait artist. When he came to the city in 1918, he was already an established painter. A native of Scotland he had studied in Paris, and spent two years in Spain where his portraits reflected historic Granada. Flyn came to the United States planning to spend three months, but except for his occasional painting trips abroad, he remained until his death in 1963.

Flyn exhibited at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery, as the former Art Museum was known. A 1921 exhibit featured Flyn with Mathias Alten and Lawrence Earle, two local artists with national reputations. He often shared his knowledge of art during his popular Sunday afternoon talks at the Art Gallery.

One of his trips abroad, following World War II, was spent in a small country village located in the mountains east of Rome. Although the narrow, winding streets and ancient churches presented temptations, Flyn did no landscapes. Nor did he put on canvas the tragic story of the war’s effect on the village. Seventy-five percent had been bombed during one bitter campaign.

He was interested in the faces of these country people. Flyn spoke almost no Italian but with a few acquired words and many gestures he got across the idea that he wanted to paint people. Their eyes reflected the suffering of war, which he captured in those Italian portraits.




Full Details

TitleArtist, Alexander Flyn
KeywordsWYCE; radio; history; artist; WWII; portraits; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission
Pubdate StringOctober 7th, 2013

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