Sam Feinstein was a founder and president of the abstract artist collective known as Group ’55. With a mission to discuss and show their work and to educate their fellow Philadelphians about the significance of abstraction and its parallels with other art forms, the group organized exhibitions and public forums that attracted hundreds of attendees. He served as a panelist or participant in all but one of its forums and programs, and he became codirector of Dubin/Gallery ’55 in 1957, a gallery where the group often showed their work and held events. He continued to serve as a leader in Group ’55 until the group disbanded in 1958.
A graduate of the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now the University of the Arts), Feinstein studied with Hans Hofmann from 1949 through 1952. Though he was primarily known as a painter, he was also a printmaker through the 1940s, and he created an important film with Hofmann. His practice evolved from realism through Expressionism to Abstract Expressionism, and he frequently exhibited in Philadelphia, New York, and Provincetown, Massachusetts, until 1960—when, disillusioned by commercialism, he stopped showing his work but continued to paint.
Feinstein shared his strong beliefs about art through lectures and teaching. He was an instructor at Chestnut Hill Academy (now Springside Chestnut Hill Academy), Philadelphia; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the Pratt Institute, New York, in addition to teaching private classes and painting workshops for more than forty years. He was also a respected writer, serving as Philadelphia correspondent and contributing editor for Art Digest from 1953 through 1955.
Feinstein’s art is in the collections of the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts; Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.