Sunday, March 18, 2012

Charles Biederman ( Part one)

Chris Hindle, Charles Biederman and myself at his show.
An interesting observation that I have made lately is that most of the influential people of my life, the people I really consider heroes, have been considered curmudgeons’ at least by some. My father had a surly side to him and one of my best friends Bob had a personality that could curdle milk until you got to know him and realized he really would give you the shirt off his back.  This was also true of Charles Biederman. I am not going to pretend that I knew him well but I wish that I would have taken the time to have known him better. Charles although opinionated, loved to talk to people and probably more importantly correspond with people through letters leaving a paper trail of his thoughts through the years. Whether you like his art or not you cannot help but be overwhelmed with his profound understanding of the lineage of his “New Art”. Beyond his art he published over a dozen books on art including his most ambitious work, “Art as the Evolution of Visual Knowledge” from 1948. It is not my intention to bore anybody with the facts of his life however. I would rather like to share a few antidotes of my time with Charles. The first time that I had any dealings with Charles was while helping to set up a retrospective show of his work as a member of the Red Wing art guild with my friend Chris Hindle. I had been warned that the misplacement of a painting could bring down the wrath of Biederman which may or may not include a beating with his cane. I guess it goes without saying that I survived that encounter and came out pretty much unscathed. In fact I found him to be quite pleasant. I remember him telling us how he had rarely driven because he had the tendency of turning towards anything that caught his interest. He and his wife decided it may be safer if he let her do the driving and he did the looking. As a member of the guild I ended up winning a poster of his from a previous show. I mustered up the courage to visit him to get it signed. This was the only time I manage to raise his ire by suggesting that his work reminded me of stationary Calder’s. I must have hit a nerve because he went on at some length about how Calder had apparently cheated and skipped a few stages of development and that the art world was not yet ready for kinetic art. I think the reason that we got along as well as we did was that I never considered myself a very smart person and as such much of what he said just went over my head but I enjoyed listening to him and looking around his house. 
All of the following photos are from my last visit.
Biederman's House


Early Work

Early Cubist Work

Early Painting

Another Early Painting

Stained Glass

Later Work

No comments:

Post a Comment