Painters: Howard Finster

Howard Finster(December 2, 1916 – October 22, 2001) was an American artist and Baptist Minister from Summerville Georgia. His mission was to spread the word of god through his paintings – over 46,000 of them. In 1976 Howard said he had a vision to paint sacred art – “one day I was workin’ on a patch job on a bicycle, and I was rubbin’ some white paint on that patch with this finger here, and I looked at the round tip o’ my finger, and there was a human face on it… then a warm feelin’ come over my body, and a voice spoke to me and said, ‘Paint sacred art”. His images range from pop icons like Elvis and Hank Williams, to historical figures like George Washington to religious images like ‘The Devils Vice’ and ‘John the Baptist’ to his own visions. His paintings are colorful and detailed; they use flat plane without perspective and are often covered with words, especially Bible verses. Every painting also has a number: God had asked him to do 5,000 paintings to spread the gospel and Finster wanted to keep track.

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.

Finster first came to mass public recognition with his paintings for the covers of REM’s Reckoning and Talking Heads’ Little Creatures. He was responsible for introducing millions to what became known as outsider art, but even with his fame, he remained focused on religious outreach. He said of  Talking Heads LP album, “I think there’s twenty-six religious verses on that first cover I done for them. They sold a million records in the first two and a half months after it come out, so that’s twenty-six million verses I got out into the world in two and a half months”.

Seven Devils

Hank Williams


Talking Heads LP - Little Creatures

Thomas Edison

Four Presidents

Elvis Presley

The Devils Vice

Coke Bottle


Howard Finster: Stranger From Another World

Jesus Coming in the Clouds

St. Luke

Youth of Abraham

Night Before Christmas

Finster's Brain


Posted on April 21, 2012, in Painting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Howard needs more practice

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