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Master Artist Series

James Brantley

“I never stopped doing art. It’s like life; it’s like blood. It’s more than money,” reflects James Brantley, in a 2014 interview with the Philadelphia Tribune. “A life without art is like a life without air.” This statement encapsulates the life and identity of Gallery Artist James Brantley, famed contemporary painter and life-long Philadelphian.

A life without art is like a life without air

Acrylic painting by James Brantley titled "Celebrate 2"

Celebrate 2 by James Brantley, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 48 inches. Inquire for price.

Brantley was born in Philadelphia in 1945, and artistic creation has been a fundamental element of his life since his earliest days. Upon graduating from Simon Gratz High School in the Nicetown neighborhood of North Philadelphia in 1963, Brantley began studying art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). In September of 1964, Brantley was drafted into the United States Army to serve in Vietnam. After one tour of duty in Vietnam and one tour Stateside, Brantley earned an honorable discharge in 1966.

 

Called by an irresistible impulse to create, Brantley completed a four-year Certificate Program in Painting in 1971. He then enrolled in the General Studies Program at The Philadelphia College of Art in 1971, and later studied 19th and 20th Century Art History at the University of Pennsylvania in 1972.

"Find one person that believes in your voice and sing to them."

Acrlyic painting by James Brantley titled "SWG"
Acrylic painting by James Brantley titled "Ursula"

Left to right: SWG by James Brantley, acrylic on canvas, 37 x 49.5 inches; Ursula by James Brantley, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 24 inches. Inquire for price.

My journey as an artist has not been an easy choice. There were the constant reminders of not being appreciated, in this life. These concerns were from family, friends, educators or just total strangers. I want people to know that I have the determination of a pit bull dog, once I bite, I hold on until I'm done. Young artists need to have that dog, crocodile, wolverine, or whatever it takes to persevere. Find one person that believes in your voice and sing to them.

 - James Brantley

Acrylic painting by James Brantley titled "Showtime"

Showtime by James Brantley, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 48 inches. Inquire for price.

James Brantley’s much sought-after works are included in numerous public and private collections, including the Woodmere Art Museum, the James A. Michener Art Museum, Philadelphia Academy of Fthe Fine Arts and the US Department of State Collection in the Embassy of the United States in Sierra Leone. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts acquired his debut work, “Brother James (1968),” in 1970 after the famous Pennsylvanian realist painter, Andrew Wyeth, admired it. Brantley has also won awards for his work, including the Hallgarten Price from the National Academy of Design and the Louis Fine Purchase Award from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

James Brantley's recently updated self-portrait titled Hustler shows him facing the viewer while standing in front of a pool table.
Acrylic painting by James Brantley titled "Jimmy's"

Left to right: Hustler by James Brantley, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30 inches; Jimmy's by James Brantley, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 36 inches. Inquire for price.

James Brantley's art combines abstract and figurative painting, using form and color to create unique perspectives and compositions. His uplifting paintings invite viewers to explore the surreal spaces he creates. Brantley's extensive collection includes landscapes, portraits, cityscapes, and interiors, all showcasing his experimental approach and distinctive visual language. His new works are available for purchase through the gallery and will be showcased in an October 2024 exhibition.

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