Fred R. Kline Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico


GEORGE BIDDLE
Born 1885, Philadelphia; Died 1973, Croton-on-Hudson

George Biddle was an important 20th century American painter, drawing master, printmaker, and muralist whose major creative activity spanned a fifty-year period from 1914 to 1964. During his lifetime he was counted as one of the leading artists in the United States. His influence in the vanguard and later development of the "WPA" and "American Scene" genres during the 1930's and 1940's was of particular importance during this period in American art. Biddle's portraits, genre, and still lifes were highly regarded and influential into the 1950's as well.

Biddle's paintings, drawings, and prints are held in many museum collections worldwide, including: Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Boston Museum of Fine Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Art Institute Chicago, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. During Biddle's career, he received more than 100 one-man exhibitions in the United States, Europe, Mexico, Japan, and India.

 

ASPECTS OF BIDDLE'S CAREER

WPA

In 1933—drawing on his rich experience in Mexico during 1928-29 when he traveled and painted with his friend Diego Rivera—Biddle suggested to his boyhood friend President Franklin D. Roosevelt(in the form of a detailed written proposal)the idea of a government-supported mural and arts program similar to the one he had witnessed firsthand in Mexico. Roosevelt saw the merit of the proposal and soon afterward, with Biddle's guidance, instituted the Public Works of Art Project of the Depression era. Roosevelt credited Biddle as the creator of the arts projects.

MEXICO

In 1940, the Mexican government, at the request of Diego Rivera, invited Biddle to create a mural for the Supreme Court building in Mexico City—a rare honor for a non-Mexican. Biddle's Mexico-period, in close association with Rivera from 1928 through the 1940's, ranks high in importance among the artist's body of work and holds a unique and notable place in early 20th century American art.

TEXAS

Texas always held a special place in Biddle's heart. As a young man in Texas, in 1908-09, Biddle worked as a cowboy in an effort to recover from a mental and physical breakdown that he had suffered upon entering Harvard Law School. He healed himself in Texas, working long and hard days on several cattle ranches around the state. [ He was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1911, whereupon he went off to Paris to begin his career in art!] He speaks of this experience in his autobiography An American Artist's Story. He returned to visit Texas many times over the years but in 1940, toward the end of the Depression, he lived in San Antonio and made a number of notable drawings, watercolors, and paintings. These works—a treasure of American regional art focused specifically on San Antonio—capture an essence of that distant historic moment, a moment in time caught between the lingering poverty of the Great Depression and the calm before the storm of World War II. FRK


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