Henry Kreis was born in Essen, Germany. He was apprenticed to a stone carver after leaving high school, where he learned the principles of three dimensional design. After service in the German army during World War I, he studied art at the State School of Applied Arts in Munich.
Kreis came to the United States in 1922 where he first earned his living as a stone cutter; he studied at the Beaux Arts Institute of Design, and later with Paul Manship with whom he developed a lifelong friendship. During the Great Depression he participated in the Works Progress Administration and worked with Mr. Manship in creating the "Prometheus" figure in Rockefeller Center. Kreis's work is on display in the "Birth of A Nation" monument in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, on the Bronx Post Office and the Supreme Court building in Brooklyn. Subsequent to World War II, Kreis created an eleven foot high figure titled "Honor" at the entrance of the North Africa Military Cemetery at Carthage, the War Memorial at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, the Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial in Los Angeles. Kreis was a member of the National Sculpture Society, Architectural League of New York and the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts and became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1951. He received a number of prizes for his work and exhibited at the National Sculpture Society; Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts Architectural League; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; Whitney Museum of American Art (which has his work in its permanent collection); National Academy of Design; and the Art Institute of Chicago. His sculptures are on view on public and private buildings in Washington, D.C., Erie, Pennsylvania, and Nyack, New York. Kreis' interest in the design of coins and medals won him the Saltus Medal from the American Numismatic Society. Among the medals Kreis designed are those commemorating the Connecticut Tercentenary, the New York Worlds Fair, the 36th issue of the Society of Medalists series, as well as coins for the United States. For a number of years, Kreis was on the faculty at the Hartford Art School. His work is also in a number of private collections.
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