Howard Finster

Born: 1916, Valley Head

Considered by some to be the first breakthrough “Outsider Artist” Finster was a Baptist Reverend and artist from Summerville, Georgia. He claimed to be inspired by God to spread the gospel through the environment of his Paradise Garden and over 46,000 pieces of art.

His images range from pop icons to historical figures to religious images to his own visions. His paintings are colorful and detailed; they use flat picture plane without perspective and are often covered with words, especially Bible verses. Every painting also has a number; according to his vision, God had asked him to do 5,000 paintings. He finished the 5,000 a few days before Christmas in 1985, but continued painting and numbering until the day he died. By 1989, he was already numbering in the ten thousands.

He first started receiving outside publicity in 1975. That year, Atlanta, GA television station Channel 5 ran a story and he also appeared in an Esquire magazine article that first dubbed his museum Paradise Garden. He made his first exhibition appearance in 1976 and painted four paintings for the Library of Congress in 1977. He was also selected to be part of the Venice Biennale in 1984.

Finster gained national fame after his collaborative work with Athens, Georgia-based rock band R.E.M. The group filmed a video, "Radio Free Europe," in Finster's Paradise Gardens in 1983. The following year, Michael Stipe and Finster collaborated on a painting for the cover of their second album. Finster also appears in the band's video for "Shiny Happy People."

Talking Heads commissioned a Finster painting for Little Creatures in 1985 that was subsequently selected as album cover of the year by Rolling Stone magazine. In 1994, a portion of his Paradise Garden was installed as part of the permanent collection of Atlanta's High Museum.

The artwork of Howard Finster is available through our relationship with David Leonardis Gallery.

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A. J. Showalter

Uncle Sam

Happy Birthday Howard

Little Creatures Poster

God Lives

Howard With Bible

Red Angel With Bible, Blue Background

George Washington

T. Rex
Howard in 1937

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