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Edward Biberman
1904-1986

Theme/Style – California Modernism, Western landscapes, figurative art, portraits, architectural subjects, social themes

Media – Oils, murals

Artistic Focus – Edward Biberman’s work often reflected current events — the Depression, World War II, labor unrest — as well as his appreciation of the architecture of America’s fresh, new urban frontier. His portraits, which depicted people both rich and poor, famous and unknown, evoke a sense of dignity no matter their subject.

Career Highlights –

• Born into a prosperous East Coast family and educated in economics at the Wharton School.
• At the age of 17 he broke his leg, and while recuperating, indulged in his love of painting. During this period, he painted a portrait of his sister, which attracted the attention of Philadelphia portraitist Robert Susan, who encouraged Biberman’s talent.
• Studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, followed by three years in Paris, cemented Biberman’s decision to pursue a career as an artist.
• By 1930, he had moved into a New York City studio and become one of the “46 Under 35” younger artists featured in a Museum of Modern Art exhibition.
• The 1933 Depression-motivated suicide of Biberman’s father gave the artist’s work the socially-relevant edge for which it now is best known.
• Biberman cited his father’s death as “part of the larger travail of a nation with seventeen million unemployed. I questioned the relevance of my own work.” His questioning led the artist west, first to Arizona and Utah, and ultimately to Los Angeles, where Biberman spent the remainder of his life.

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