Henry Kallem was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He became an abstract painter known for his use of wide brushmarks and was also a printmaker. Kallem studied with his father, Morris Kallem, a portrait painter. His brother, Herbert Kallem, was a sculptor.
Henry Kallem’s studio was in New York City. He and his associates were a part of a group of modernists who called themselves the 28th Street Group, so named because they hung around the Henry and David Rothman Frame Shop on 28th Street. Kallem and others of this group also spent their summers painting in Provincetown and on Monhegan Island off the Maine coast.
Kallem was a member of the National Society of Painters in Casein, and was also a teacher in his studio and in a private school in Roslyn, New York, and at the New York City YWCA. He exhibited widely, including at the Pennsylvania Academy, the 1939 New York World’s Fair, and the Pepsi Cola Exhibition of 1947, where he won first prize for his painting “Country Tenement.” This award caused consternation because of his abstract style, and Life magazine, August 1948, ran an article referencing the award with the headline “Freak Painting Prizes.”
Source: Peter Falk, “Who Was Who in American Art”