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Edward Biberman (1904 - 1986)

The Landing/Dawn Landing, 1944, oil on canvas, signed lower left, 20 x 30, titled verso; exhibited in the Twelfth Annual Exhibition of Trends in Southern California Art at the Foundation of Western Art, Los Angeles, from early November to December 30, 1944 (see Millier, Arthur, Trends Show Attracts Best Southland Art, The Los Angeles Times, part III, p.6, November 4, 1944, illustrated in Edward Biberman, Time and Circumstance: Forty Years of Painting by Edward Biberman, The Ward Ritchie Press, Los Angeles (1968), p. 57, presented in its original frame

Price Upon Request

The Landing/Dawn Landing is a rare and critically acclaimed example of Edward Biberman's World War II paintings. Years after the conflict, Biberman remarked,  “My varied activities relating to the war left little time for the painting life of the past.  But, frankly, in this new situation I had little desire to begin a succession of easel paintings.  Life was now attuned to different objectives, and the few paintings I had time for were all directly related to some aspect of the war’s preoccupations. There were very few art exhibitions. When I did send work to such an occasional show, it was a work based upon a theme of the times.” One of those rare exhibitions Biberman mentioned was the Twelfth Annual Exhibition of Trends in Southern California Art where Biberman exhibited the present work, which drew the attention of Los Angeles Times art critic, Arthur Millier, who placed The Landing/Dawn Landing as among the best entries when he commented, “Others who score in this brilliant exhibition are . . . Edward Biberman who gets appropriate, tense grimness into his ‘Dawn Landing’ depicting an LCI at work.”

Edward Biberman was born in Philadelphia, the son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. His artistic career started at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts followed by three years of study in Paris, where he associated closely with Calder and Noguchi and exhibited at the Salon d'Automne, Grand Palais, in 1927 and the Salon des Independents in 1929. Upon his return to the United States, Biberman lived in New York City, where he showed at many of the city’s premier galleries and museums. His works were selected for several of the Museum of Modern Art’s early exhibitions of American artists, including 46 Painters and Sculptors Under the Age of 35 (1930) and Murals by American Painters and Photographers (1932). Hoping to escape the pressures of the New York art world, Biberman moved to Los Angeles in 1936 where he could be close to his family, including his film director brother, Herbert Biberman, and his sister-in-law, the Academy Award winning actress, Gale Sondergaard. Although he continued to paint and show his work professionally until his death, Biberman’s relocation to Southern California and his devotion to progressive politics no doubt slowed the recognition he deserved and has received since his death.

During the course of his long career, Biberman showed at the Salon d’Automne (Paris); Whitney Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and dozens of other museums and galleries across the US and in Europe. Biberman completed three murals for public works projects, including his work Abbot Kinney and the Story of Venice for the Venice Post Office, which was installed for six months at LACMA in 2014. His works are in the permanent collections of more than a dozen museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, National Portrait Gallery (of the Smithsonian Institution), Butler Institute of American Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and LACMA. Several books are dedicated to Biberman’s art, as is a feature length documentary, Brush with Life: The Art of Being Edward Biberman (2007).

Biberman’s art has undergone a resurgence of popularity during the past fifteen years with four solo or focused exhibitions, Edward Biberman Revisited (2009), Edward Biberman (2011-12), Lost Horizons: Mural Dreams of Edward Biberman (2014) and Edward Biberman, Abbot Kinney and the Story of Venice (2014), and representation in a number of other exhibitions, such as To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America at the Smithsonian Institution and other institutions (2011), Pacific Standard Time (2012), Contraption: Rediscovering California Jewish Artists (2018), Black American Portraits (2021) at LACMA, Alone Together: Encounters in American Realism (2022) at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art and Art for the People: WPA-Era Paintings from the Dijkstra Collection (2023 - 24) at the Crocker Art Museum, the Oceanside Museum of Art and the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens.

Biberman’s brand of modernism can fairly be divided into four categories 1) precisionist urban scenes of New York and Southern California which celebrate the creations of man; 2) portraits which expose not only the historical context, but also the souls, of his subjects; 3) rural landscapes and still life paintings which portray the beauty of America and its flora; and 4) social realist works which explore the struggles, hopes and shortcomings of our society. Regardless of genre, Biberman had a unique sense of structure and color. His figures are at the same time specific and universal. Taken as a whole, Biberman’s body of work presents the viewer with a compelling and often daring vision of 20th century America and its art.


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