The Art of John Biggers: View from the Upper Room

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In this splendid book, which accompanies a major exhibition of Biggers's work opening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in April, 1995, a generous selection of Biggers's paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures are reproduced together for the first time. Included are preparatory drawings for the artist's major mural commissions, such as his now lost early Expressionist work.
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Overview

In this splendid book, which accompanies a major exhibition of Biggers's work opening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in April, 1995, a generous selection of Biggers's paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures are reproduced together for the first time. Included are preparatory drawings for the artist's major mural commissions, such as his now lost early Expressionist work.
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Editorial Reviews

Antiques & the Arts
The publication is both an invaluable reference and a long overdue tribute....Sixty-two color and black and white plates of the 126 works...are shown together, demonstrating Biggers' well-rounded talent...
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A pioneer in translating the heritage of African life into American art, Biggers developed potent spiritual symbols and geometric techniques to create a pictorial mythology. Born in 1924 in North Carolina, he began his career with realistic evocations of the black Southern experience and with murals in the Regionalist tradition of Thomas Hart Benton. After traveling widely in Africa in the late 1950s, Biggers welded archetypal motifs-e.g., Great Mother, masks, combs, water, drums-into a cosmic symbolism, producing an impressive body of paintings, drawings and sculpture that reflects his belief in the human community and its mystical interaction with the natural world. His lithograph Upper Room (1984) depicts two Southern women carrying on their wrapped heads a building-house, school, church-while alongside them a boy and girl climb toward the future on a vine-a hopeful narrative of solidarity and faith. Assembled by a variety of art scholars, this richly illustrated monograph documents a traveling exhibition that opened at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts. (May)
Library Journal
One of America's major black artists, Biggers is the subject of a traveling exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. This catalog documents nearly 50 years of his work in a variety of media, including paintings, murals, drawings, prints, and sculptures. It is lavishly illustrated with 55 color and 105 black-and-white reproductions and even several of the artist's photographs taken while traveling through Africa. A major essay by curator Wardlaw (Black Art-Ancestral Legacy: The African Impulse in African American Art, LJ 12/92) summarizes the artist's career and comments on a number of works illustrated here, while additional essays by three scholars of African American art place the artist in context. Taken as a whole, this is an appealing and accessible work on an often-overlooked American artist. Recommended for collections on American modernists.-Margarete Gross, Chicago P.L.
Booknews
Biggers (1924-) was an early pioneer in translating the rich heritage of African life into American art. This retrospective includes biographical and critical essays by curators and professors, the catalogue and color plates from the exhibition, a reflection by Maya Angelou, and a chronology and selected exhibition history. The text is filled with both color and b&w images which document the powerful spiritual symbols and geometric techniques Biggers developed to create his unique but universal mythology. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Donna Seaman
The powerfully expressive work of African American painter John Biggers has been one of Texas' best-kept art secrets, but now that museums and publishers have recognized the public's interest in black art, everyone can appreciate Biggers' achievements. This volume and the exhibit it accompanies are the first retrospectives of Biggers' distinctive drawings, paintings, sculpture, and murals. A distinguished professor at Texas Southern University, Biggers was instrumental in launching the careers of a number of African American artists. His own work reflects his sense of the injustices inherent in American history and his deep affinity for African culture. Biggers' abiding theme, however, is the celebration of women. His depictions of women are both realistic and symbolic and always infused with profound respect and the clear implication that it is women who hold the world together. Biggers' African American and African women work, dance, and carry and care for children with the grace and beauty born of spiritual and physical strength. This volume's superb plates are matched with informative and insightful commentary, which includes a piece by Maya Angelou.
Antiques & the Arts
The publication is both an invaluable reference and a long overdue tribute....Sixty-two color and black and white plates of the 126 works...are shown together, demonstrating Biggers' well-rounded talent...
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810919563
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 8.96 (w) x 11.31 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Table of Contents

Lenders to the Exhibition 8
Foreword 9
Introduction 10
Acknowledgments 11
Reflection 14
Metamorphosis: The Life and Art of John Biggers 16
John Biggers: A Perspective 76
John Biggers: American Muralist 96
John Biggers's Shotguns of 1987: An American Classic 108
Catalogue of the Exhibition 112
Plates 116
Chronology and Selected Exhibition History 162
Notes 171
Selected Bibliography 175
Index 177
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