Andre Bieler: An Artist's Life and Times

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A lavishly illustrated biography of the "people's artist" who celebrated habitant life.

André Biéler was born in 1896 in Switzerland. The nephew of the important Swiss painter Ernest Biéler, André moved with his family to France, where he studied art, and then to Canada. His education was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, which saw him return to France as a soldier.

In this richly illustrated book, Frances K. Smith traces the roots of...

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Very Good 2006. DVD. Very Good. Dust Jacket is Very Good.

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Richmond Hill, Ontario [1-55407-232-8] 2006, 1st printing. () Fine in fine dust jacket. xxxv, 355pp. Quarto with orange cloth boards and silver lettering on front and spine. ... Colour illustrated endpapers. B&W photos and colour illustrations throughout. DVD in case at back of book. A monograph on the Quebec artist. Bieler has been the subject of over 20 exhibitions, and was a member of the Canadian Group of Painters and Royal Canadian Academy. In 1987 he was made a member of the Order of Canada. Included is a 53 minute DVD titled "Les Couleurs du Sang / The Art of Time". Read more Show Less

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Overview

A lavishly illustrated biography of the "people's artist" who celebrated habitant life.

André Biéler was born in 1896 in Switzerland. The nephew of the important Swiss painter Ernest Biéler, André moved with his family to France, where he studied art, and then to Canada. His education was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, which saw him return to France as a soldier.

In this richly illustrated book, Frances K. Smith traces the roots of the Biéler family and covers the development of the artist, from his apprenticeship to his exploration of rural habitant life along the shores and islands of Quebec. André Biéler would emerge as an artist of extraordinary creative energy, working in printmaking as well as oils.

After moving to Kingston, Ontario, in 1936 as resident artist and professor at Queen's University, Biéler helped establish the Agnes Etherington Gallery. In 1941 he organized the first conference of Canadian artists, an event that eventually would lead to the formation of the Canada Council.

Biéler's subject was people, and he was known fondly as the "people's artist." He continued to paint through his 80s. He died in 1989, leaving an important legacy. This revised and much expanded edition of Frances K. Smith's 1980 book features hundreds of color images and defines André Biéler as an artist of classic, sustained and versatile talent.

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Editorial Reviews

Artsforum
A richly-illustrated journey of an artist.
— John Arkelian
Kingston Whig-Standard
Remarkable life story... the most comprehensive collection of [Bieler's] work... more than 300 color illustrations.
— Kim Lunman
Victoria Times-Colonist
A perfect model of an art book.
— Robert Amos
Montreal Gazette
Shows Canadian art of a different sort. [Bieler] clearly helped shape Canada's cultural landscape. ... Valuable observations about Canadian culture.
— Victor Swoboda
Globe and Mail
A strikingly handsome production, copiously illustrated, mostly in full color... a comprehensive straightforward narrative of [Biéler's] life.
— J.H. Kirchhoff
International Art Treasures Web Magazine
A delightful retrospective .. glorious illustrations throughout.
Saskatoon Star Phoenix
[A] monument of a book... There are some lovely impressionistic paintings here, as well as many photographs from Beiler's life.
— Bill Robertson
The New Brunswick Reader
A beautifully produced bio-critical study of the important Swiss-born modernist with hundreds of plates and illustrations.
— George Fetherling
Artsforum - John Arkelian
A richly-illustrated journey of an artist who devoted part of his long career to evocative images of life in rural Quebec.
Kingston Whig-Standard - Kim Lunman
Remarkable life story... the most comprehensive collection of [Bieler's] work... more than 300 color illustrations.
Victoria Times-Colonist - Robert Amos
A perfect model of an art book... This fine story of social engagement and creative vigour is well told. In the course of poring over this book, I felt I got closer to Bieler than almost any artist I can name.
Montreal Gazette - Victor Swoboda
Shows Canadian art of a different sort. ... [Bieler] clearly helped shape Canada's cultural landscape. ... Valuable observations about Canadian culture.
Globe and Mail - J.H. Kirchhoff
A strikingly handsome production, copiously illustrated, mostly in full color... a comprehensive straightforward narrative of [Biéler's] life.
Saskatoon Star Phoenix - Bill Robertson
[A] monument of a book... There are some lovely impressionistic paintings here, as well as many photographs from Beiler's life.
The New Brunswick Reader - George Fetherling
A beautifully produced bio-critical study of the important Swiss-born modernist with hundreds of plates and illustrations.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554072323
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/10/2006
  • Pages: 355
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Frances K. Smith is Curator Emeritus of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario, and was a friend of André Biéler for many years. The author of a biography of artist Daniel Fowler, she has been a contributor to various publications, including the Kingston Whig Standard, artscanada, Revue d'art canadienne/Canadian Art Review and Canadian Collector.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Foreword
Introduction
Acknowledgments
Foreword (1980)
Prologue

  1. A Perfect Atmosphere for a Child (1896-1914)
    • The Family Background
    • Early Years in Europe and Canada
  2. A Need to Draw, Draw, Draw (1914-1921)
    • The First World War
    • The Return to North America
  3. Apprenticeship (1921-1926)
    • The Early Twenties in Europe
  4. The Québec Habitant (1926-1929)
    • Rural Life on Île d'Orléans
    • The North Shore of the St. Lawrence
  5. Creating and Sharing (130-1940)
    • The Thirties in Montréal and Kingston
  6. The Artist in Society (1940-1950)
    • The Kingston Conference and its Aftermath
    • The Shipshaw Centre
  7. The Mature Eye (1950-1960)
    • Honours, Europe Revisited and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre
  8. New Dimensions (1960-1970)
    • Glenburnie, Sculpture, Twelve Pine Press, Mexico and Québec Revisited
  9. The Celebration of Life (1970-1989)
    • The Seventies
Epilogue
Appendices
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Agrippa d'Aubigné (Historical Summary)
  • Biéler Crest Legend
  • Chronology
  • Exhibitions
  • Index of Illustrations
  • Index
  • The Art of Time, a film by Philippe Baylaucq

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Preface

Prologue

The foremost intention of this book is to present the art of André Biéler, in all its continuing variety, influenced by the cultures of Europe and Canada during a long and productive life. It is also intended to provide, through the focus of a dedicated artist and teacher, a close look at the vicissitudes that faced the artist in the Canadian society of the twentieth century, particularly through two world wars and the years of depression between them.

It is inherent in André Biéler's character that his energy and vision should be reflected, not only in his considerable creative output as an artist, but also in his lasting contribution to the cultural life of Canada. Europe had given him an insight into the honoured place that art and the artist could achieve in an older culture; in Canada he was concerned to find that the artist was virtually ignored in a society preoccupied with materialistic rather than cultural development. Communication between the artists themselves, in the east and west of the country, was almost nonexistent in the thirties.

An important aspect of this book is to examine the actions taken by André Biéler to alleviate this situation. On the national level, with the help of the Carnegie Corporation, he organized the first conference of Canadian artists, the Kingston Conference, held in 1941 at Queen's University. Its purpose was twofold: to bring artists from east and west together to get acquainted with each other; and to study the function of art in a democracy. The conference initiated national movements towards the understanding and appreciation of the role of the artist in the culture of a democracy — still relevant issues today. On the community level, his work as a teacher, both of art history and of painting and drawing in the studio, has been outstanding. An added dimension has been the establishment of the
Agnes Etherington Art Centre as a public art gallery in Kingston, resulting from the vision and determination of two people, André Biéler and Agnes Etherington, and the support of Queen's University

Some of the achievements of a life rich in human qualities unfold in this book, I believe; I am deeply conscious, however, that at best it is only a substitute for the privilege of friendship with the man himself.

Frances K. Smith
Kingston, 1980

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