JAMES McGINLEY is a realist painter of landscape, marines, urban scenes and portraits. Born in 1937 in Jersey City, New Jersey, McGinley is considered one of the three most important 20th century artists of that state, along with his teacher John R. Grabach (1882-1984) and another of Grabach’s students, the watercolorist
Henry Gasser (1909-1981).
McGinley attended the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts. Although a superb draftsman, his illustrations lacked the slick quality for commercial art. However, when his teacher saw a portrait James had painted he was immediately directed to the Fine Arts Department. He studied fundamentals with John Grabach who declared in his first class with James,
“You could be one of the top painters
in the country.”
The conflict between modernism and traditionalism was very strong during the late 1950’s, with most young students opting for modernism. James held strongly to what he believed in…creating paintings like the masters. He was especially impressed by the works of John Singer Sargeant and Ander Zorn. In 1962 McGinley received a scholarship and traveled to Spain to study at the Real Academia de Belles Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. The school had a staggering collection of paintings by Goya, Velasquez, Ribera, Rubens, Titian, Caravaggio and all the masters. There was also a significant collection of the artist who would be the biggest influence on James’ life – the great Juaquin Sorolla, who was little known in America but was Spain’s most important artist at the turn of the 20th century.
McGinley has exhibited at galleries throughout the Metropolitan area. He taught at his alma mater in Newark and was known as an effective and dynamic teacher of figure drawing, landscape painting and figure painting. To this day, McGinley still considers himself a student mastering his craft…always seeking opportunities for new insights.