Born in 1904 on New York’s Lower East Side, Harry Sternberg grew up in Brooklyn. From 1922 to 1926, he attended the Art Students League where he worked with George Bridgeman, and in 1926 and 1927, he studied privately with Harry Wickey.
In 1934, Sternberg became an instructor at the Art Students League, where he continued to teach until 1967. Among his students were Sigmund Abeles, Isabel Bishop, Minna Citron, Riva Helfond, Charles Keller, Knox Martin, Karl Schrag and Charles White. Will Barnet was a close colleague and printer for Sternberg and his students. Over the years, he also taught at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, New York University, the New School for Social Research, the Idyllwild School of Music and Art and the Palm Springs Desert Museum in California.
Sternberg received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1936 and his work was included in the first Whitney Museum Invitational Annual in 1937. During this period, Sternberg was friendly with Mexican artists Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo, and David Siqueiros. Other artist- friends were Jacob Lawrence, Philip Evergood, and John Sennhauser, and the older artists, Rockwell Kent, Marsden Hartley and Max Weber.
Sternberg was a member of the Artists Equity, the Society of American Graphic Artists and the National Academy of Design. Also in the 1930s, he was a supervisor on the graphics division of the Works Progress Administration, and made three post office murals for the Treasury Department. Sternberg’s work was included in “America in the War” organized by Artists for Victory, an exhibition that opened simultaneously in twenty-six museums across the country on October 20, 1943. From 1945 to 1967, Sternberg maintained a studio at 30 East 14th Street at New York’s Union Square and moved to California in 1967.
Among the numerous retrospectives of work by Sternberg are those at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and Wichita State University in 1975, at which time the University published a catalogue raisonne of his prints; “The Prints of Harry Sternberg” the San Diesgo Museum of Art in 1994; and “No Sun Without Shadow: The Art of Harry Sternberg”, California Center for the Arts, Escondido, 2000. The Athenaem in LaJolla, California held several exhibitions of work by Sternberg, including “A Life in Woodcuts” in January, 1992, and most recently, “Harry Sternberg 1904-2002: A Celebration of his Life” in June/July, 2002.