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Curriculum Vitae

David Stern is a figurative painter, whose work is rooted in the European figurative tradition and informed by American Abstract Expressionism.

His artistic career spans 40 years and the main theme/motive of his work has been and continues to be the human condition.

His work is and has always been figurative, using the universal experience of the visual world as a point of reference. The paintings are developed in a process of action and reaction, meaning that the painting evolves without a preconceived plan and/or image of a desired result. 

The themes of David Stern's works are always connected to his own experience and observation, and although the painting process of a singular work can take a year or more of probing, the actual act of painting is fast and impulsive. 

He works almost exclusively from memory and his accumulated knowledge of the human figure. All of Stern's paintings are done with self-made mixtures of pure pigments and linseed oil. Since 2019 he has changed his practice and uses Acrylic binder as a medium for his pigments.


"I regard my paintings as innumerably different shaped vessels, which contents are according to the observing individual’s experience (including myself). The content will have to take on the shape of the vessel, eventually."

David Stern NYC 2011

David Stern

David Stern was born on February 3, 1956 in Essen, Germany and lives in New York. Stern has referred to himself as an “action painter,” echoing the artistic legacies of New York School painters Jackson PollockWillem de Kooning and Franz Kline. Yet his human forms reach further back to histories of portraiture.

After an apprenticeship as a sign painter Stern attended the Dortmund Fachhochschule für Design and Art[1] (1975–79) and the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (1980–82). He then taught painting at the Dortmund Fachhochschule für Design and Art, while he developed his painting skills living in a village near the town of Münster. In 1986 he moved to Cologne, where he found his artistic voice. From 1987 on, Stern exhibited his work nationally and quickly entered the international scene in the early nineties, with shows in AustriaHungary, the NetherlandsBelgium and Great Britain. Stern's 1992 retrospective exhibition David Stern: Study for a Way at the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest was the first exhibition by a contemporary Western artist after Hungary opened to the West.

In 1993 Stern showed his work in the US for the first time, immigrated in 1994 and became naturalized in 2000. Since his arrival, he has been fascinated by his encounters with an intensely urban place defined by its energy, crowding, speed and cosmopolitism. His national traveling exhibition David Stern: The American Years (1995–2008) curated by Karen Wilkin, demonstrates shifts in form and content in Stern’s work since the artist moved to New York from Germany in 1995.[2]

Stern has exhibited widely in New York City, the US and Europe. His work can be found in public and private collections in the United StatesEurope and Asia, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Kupferstichkabinett Dresden (Dresden, Germany), the National Museum (Poznan, Poland),[3] Dresdner Bank (Cologne, Germany), the Kunstsammlung der Universität Göttingen (Göttingen, Germany), the Arkansas Art Center (Little Rock), the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (Jacksonville, Florida), the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (Sarasota, Florida), and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum (New York).

Biographical Notes

Selected Exhibitions 


2021 And Yet We Rise: 20 Years Remembrance of September 11th, Embassy of the United States of America London, UK September 1 - March 7 

2014 - 16 "The Gatherings" Diptych at September Memorial and Museum New York City

2010-12 David Stern: The American Years (1995-2008) (cont.)

national traveling exhibition curated by Karen Wilkin,

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston, SC, August 26-October 8, 2010

2011 David Stern: Five Paintings Messineo Art Projects/Wyman Contemporary, New York Jan 27 – March 19

2009 David Stern: Cold Cuts – The American Years, Galerie Brennecke, Berlin, October 24- December 3 2009

David Stern: Selections from “One Hundred Simple Things,”Messineo Art Projects/Wyman Contemporary, New York, May 14 – July 16

2008-09 David Stern: The American Years (1995-2008), national traveling exhibition curated by Karen Wilkin, Yeshiva University Museum, New York,September 18, 2008-February 8, 2009

Alexander Hogue Gallery, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK, October 30-November 28

2005-06 David Stern at the Starrett-Leihigh (project 1740), NYC presented by Claudia Carr Gallery, November 15-December 20

2004 David Stern: Braces and Shadows, Rosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, NYC, April 28-June 3

2002 David Stern: The Gatherings, Rosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, NYC, October 10-November 16

2001 David Stern: Common Ground, Rosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, NYC, April 25-May 26

2000 David Stern: Recent Paintings, Louis Stern Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, April 27-June 3

1999 David Stern: Random Cycles, Rosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, NYC, October 12-November 13

David Stern: Recent Work, William Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, College of Charleston, SC, September 2-25

1998 David Stern: New Paintings, Rosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, NYC, April 28-May 30

1997 David Stern, Galerie Joachim Blüher, Cologne, Germany

1996 David Stern: Skypieces and Portraits, Rosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, NYC, September 11-October 19

1995 David Stern: Drawings and Paintings, Synagogue for the Arts, NYC, May 10-June 11

1995 David Stern, Galerie Brennecke, Berlin, Germany

1994 David Stern, Kunstverein, Gütersloh, Germany, November 20 – December 11

1994 Identity and Relationship: Recent Paintings by David Stern, National Jewish Museum, Washington, DC, December 15 - January

1994 David Stern: Bilder, Galerie Brennecke, Berlin, Germany, October 14 – November 19

1993 David Stern: Malerei, Galerie X Sadie Bierl, Munich, Germany

1993 David Stern: Malerei, Galerie Brennecke, Berlin, Germany, January 23 – March 6

1992-93 David Stern: Tanulmányok egy útról (Study for a Way), Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, November26, 1992 – January 7, 1993

1992 David Stern: Malerei, Kunstsammlung der Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany, March 15 – April 26

1992 David Stern: Malerei, Galerie Welz, Salzburg, Austria, September 4 – September 29

1992 David Stern: Paintings, Martin Ainscough Gallery, Liverpool, England, October 3 – November 2



2014 Painted Faces, Curated by Mark Lewis. Henry Zarrow Center for Art and Education, University of Tulsa, March 7 - April 13

2012 Positonswechsel, Curated by Kirsten Freundl. BayWa Munich, October 18 – November 10

2010 Works On Paper. Julia Nitsberg, David Stern, Sylvia Schuster, Messineo Art Projects and Wyman Contemporary, New York, May 13 - July 15

2008 National Juried Competition: Works of Art on Paper, Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts & Sciences, June 21 –July 14

2006 New American Figurative Art. David Stern. Nicholas Straube, Thomas Williams Fine Arts, London, October 10- November 10

2003 Skin: Contemporary Views of the Body, Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, Jacksonville, FL, May 2-August 3(with Magdalena Abakanowicz, Tony Oursler and others)

2002-03 CorpoRealities. Contemporary Figurative Painting, Rollins College, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Winter Park, FL,October 18-December 1 (with Eugène Leroy, Frank Auerbach and others )

2002 Portraits. David Stern and Edvins Strautmanis. Drawings and Monoprints, Spokane Falls Community College Art Gallery, Spokane, WA, February 11-March 15

1998 7th Biennal National Drawing Invitational, The Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AK, May 7-June 21

1998 Galerie Brennecke, Berlin, Germany

1997 About Face, Rosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, NYC One of a Kind, Rosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, NYC

1996 Galerie Joachim Blüher, Cologne, Germany Galerie Brennecke, Berlin, Germany

1993 Fritz Ascher – David Stern. Two Abstract-Figurative Painters, International Monetary Fund Art Forum, Washington, DCMarch 30 – May 21

1993 Galerie Seippel, Cologne, Germany

1989 Der Name der Freiheit. Ein Kölner Symposion zur 200-Jahr-Feier der Französischen Revolution in der KölnerPhilharmonie am 29. April 1989, Cologne, Germany




2020 David Stern "Line, Form, Passage" at Ellipsis Art, review by Jonathan Goodman for White Hot Magazine, NYC 

2020 David Stern "Composites of Geography, Composites of Form" Interview by Jonathan Goodman in Tussle Magazine, NYC

2013 David Stern, “In the Beginning was a Drawing… (Thoughts on Drawing and Binary Code)” and Chapter 14: “Black and White Magic by David Stern, New York, USA” in David Scott Leibowitz, Mobile Digital Art. Using the iPad and iPhone as Creative Tools, 2013

2011 Thomas Ketelsen, “Skypieces or ‘Epiphanien des Zufalls’. David Sterns New Yorker Skizzenbuch im Dresdner Kupferstich-Kabinett, in Dresden – New York. Zu Ehren des 90. Geburtstages von Henry H. Arnhold, By Nina C. Ilgen and Martin Roth (Editors), Berlin and Munich 2011, pp. 39-42

2008 David Stern: The American Years (1995-2008), catalogue accompanying the national traveling exhibition curated by Karen Wilkin; New York: YU Museum; Tulsa, OK: Alexandre Hogue Gallery; Charleston, SC: The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

1999 David Stern: Recent Paintings, Rosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, NY

1994 David Stern, Identity and Relationship, National Jewish Museum, Washington, DC

1992 David Stern, Study for a Way, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest David Stern, Malerei,

Kunstsammlung der Universität Göttingen (Germany)

2009 Charles Ruas, “David Stern,” ARTnews, January 2009, p. 112

2008 Joel Silverstein, “David Stern at Yeshiva University Museum,”, December 2008

Teel Sale and Claudia Betti, Drawing. A Contemporary Approach, 6th edition, Belmont, CA 2008, p. 34, no. 2.12

2007 Monica Strauss, “David Stern. Rituelle Gesten,” Aufbau, September 2007, p. 10

2005 Lonnie Pierson Dunbier (Editor), The Artists Bluebook. 34,000 North American Artists. 16th Century to March 2005, Scottsdale(Arizona), 2005, p. 479

2004 David Grosz, "Human Figures, Broken and Restored, In the Work of One Artist," Forward, March 19, 2004, p. 11

2003 Karen Wilkin, "At the Galleries," Partisan Review, Winter 2003, pp. 116-17

2002 Blake Eskin, “A Passion for Impasto,” ARTnews Summer 2002, pp. 122-124

Monica Strauss, "Revisiting those stunned evenings," Aufbau,5 September 2002

2001 Monica Strauss, "Figurative Paintings and Abstract Means. Paintings and Drawings by David Stern at Rosenberg & Kaufman Fine Art,"Aufbau 10 (May 10), 2001, p. 15

Mario Naves, “Waving to the 20th Century en Route to the 19th,”The New York Observer , May 20

Karen Wilkin, "At the Galleries," Partisan Review, Summer 2001

2000 Lance Esplund, "David Stern at Rosenberg & Kaufman", Art in America, June 2000, pp. 124-25

1999 Mitchell Cohen, "David Stern's Cosmos", Dissent, Fall 1999, pp. 64-67

Frank Martin, "Stern's art like a thrill ride of texture, color and imagery", The Post and Courier, September 18, 1999, p. 2D

1998 Lance Esplund, "Working the Paint," Modern Painters, Spring 1998, pp. 116-18

R. S., "Die Mystik der Wirklichkeit," Aufbau 11, 1998, p. 10 Townsend Wolfe, "David Stern," in 7th Biennal National Drawing Invitational, exh. cat. (Little Rock: The Arkansas Arts Center), pp. 57-59, nos. 38-43

1997 Hearne Pardee, "David Stern," ARTnews, January 1997, pp. 119- 121

1996 Dominique Nahas, "David Stern," Review, October 1, 1996, p. 16

Jeanne C. Wilkinson, David Stern," Review, September 15, 1996, p. 28

R.S., "Die Kraft der Erscheinung," Aufbau 19 (September 13), 1996, p. 16

1995 Sascha Brodsky, "Artist looks beyond Abstract Expressionism," Downtown Express, May 16-29, 1995, p. 27

1994 Rolf Birkholz, "Das Ringen der Geschlechter," Gütersloher Tagesblatt, November 20, 1994, p. 994

"Ausstellungsrundgang," Tagesspiegel Berlin, November 5

C.J. "Tobende Farben," Süddeutsche Zeitung, October 7, 1994

1993 Christina Wendenburg, "Wie sich aus einem Krater Gesichter herausschälen," Berliner Morgenpost, February 2, 1993

Prof. Dr. Karl Arndt, "On David Stern's Paintings – Observations and Thoughts" in Fritz Ascher – David Stern. Two abstract-figurative

painters, exh. cat. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund Art Forum

Feature, Sonntagsgespräche with Karl L. Wolff, WDR Television

1992 Jürgen Kisters, "Vom Zauber der Erfahrung. Der Kölner Maler David Stern bereitet eine Ausstellung in Budapest vor," Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, October 16

Peter Krüger-Lenz, "Aufgeworfen, schrundig. Malerei von David Stern in der Uni-Kunstsammlung", Göttinger Tageblatt, March992

Cornel Wachter, "Die Schichten der Erscheinungen durchdringen." Göttinger Tageblatt, March 11, 1992

1991 Jürgen Kisters, "David Stern – Portrait eines Künstlers," Kunst Köln, 4, 1991, pp. 34-37

Jürgen Kisters, "David Stern," Kunstforum, September 1991, p. 366

1990 Wim Cox, Kölner Künstler im Portrait, Cologne, pp. 200-203

1989 Franz Xaver Ohnesorg, "Der Name der Freiheit. Ein Kölner Symposion zur 200-Jahr-Feier der Französischen Revolution in der Kölner Philharmonie am 29. April 1989," KölnMusik Edition 1, Köln, 1989, pp. 40-41

Künstler in Köln, Artothek der Stadtbücherei Köln, Cologne

1988 Feature, Aktuelle Stunde, WDR 3 Television

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