• Sylvia Fein: The Painting Told Me What to Do, 2012; egg tempera on gesso board; 24 x 24 in.; collection of the artist; © 2019 Sylvia Fein.

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Curator's Circle: Sylvia Fein/MATRIX 275 Wine & Walkthrough

Open to Curator’s Circle members at the $1,000 level and above 

Curator's Circle members are invited to a reception and preview tour of Sylvia Fein / MATRIX 275, led by BAMPFA Director and Chief Curator Lawrence Rinder and in the company of the remarkable Sylvia Fein herself.

Sylvia Fein, who turns 100 this year, was born and raised in Wisconsin, where she attended college with another woman who would go on to become a legendary Bay Area centenarian, Anna Halprin. In the early 1940s Fein was among a group of artists based in Madison and Milwaukee who became known as the Midwest Surrealists. After living in Mexico for several years during World War II, Fein moved to the East Bay in 1947; she received an MFA at UC Berkeley in 1951. For decades, her painting has been strongly influenced by the highly detailed style of Northern Renaissance painters such as Hieronymus Bosch and by the fourteenth-century medium of egg tempera, which endows her works with a distinctive texture and transparent quality.

This exhibition features a wide array of Fein’s work, made over a seventy-year period. Fein’s subject matter alternates between the extremely personal and the fantastical. Her work has frequently been shown alongside that of other Surrealists of her generation, including Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, Dorothea Tanning, and Remedios Varo, and was presented at the Whitney Annual in 1946 along with works by Jackson Pollock and Roberto Matta. Fein continues to paint daily at her Martinez, California home, where she also maintains a vineyard and cultivates an extensive orchard of olive trees.


Sylvia Fein / MATRIX 275 is organized by Director and Chief Curator Lawrence Rinder with Curatorial Assistant Lucia Momoh. The MATRIX Program is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAMPFA Trustees.