By Olive Jensen Theisen
John Thomas Biggers (1924-2001) was once an important African American artist who encouraged numerous others via his educating, work of art, work, and drawings. After receiving traditional artwork education at Hampton Institute and Pennsylvania country, he had his own and creative step forward in 1957 while he spent six months within the newly autonomous kingdom of Ghana. From this time ahead, he built-in African summary parts along with his rural Southern photographs to create a private iconography. His new method made him recognized, as his own discovery of African historical past slot in good with the becoming U.S. civil rights stream. he's most sensible recognized for his work of art at Hampton collage, Winston-Salem college, and Texas Southern, however the drawings and lithographs that lie at the back of the work of art have got scant realization - earlier. Theisen interviewed Dr. Biggers over the past 13 years of his existence, and was once welcomed into his studio innumerable instances. jointly, they chose consultant works for this quantity, a few of that have now not been formerly released for a basic viewers. After his demise in 2001, his widow persisted to paintings heavily with Theisen, leading to a ebook that's intimate and informative for either the student and the scholar.
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Extra resources for A Life on Paper: The Drawings And Lithographs of John Thomas Biggers
He saw that many families were doomed to a lifetime of hard labor and endless poverty. Harvesters I (1947) (ﬁg. 11) eloquently depicts that reality. Working on brown cardboard with conté crayon and gouache, Biggers caught those exhausted workers in sculptural relief form, almost as if they had been fashioned from a sheet of copper. Those strong misshapen hands and feet speak of the pain and sorrow of the life of a subsistence farmer. One has only to look at media coverage reporting current areas of war, drought, ﬂoods, and famine to recognize the truth inherent in these drawings.
7 And in 1995, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, mounted the largest and most important retrospective of John Biggers’s work. The exhibition traveled from 1995 to 1997 through ﬁve venues, drawing large crowds at each stop. Thinking about the prize-winning drawing, The Cradle, Biggers reﬂected: 36 B U ILDING IN HOU STON AND TE X A S SOUTHE RN U NIVE RS IT Y, 1949 –1957 ﬁgure 19 The Cradle carbon pencil on paper Museum of Fine Arts of Houston, purchase prize 1950 You know, The Cradle started my career in Texas.
Even the paper to be used in drawing was a matter for consideration, the artist noted: “In London, at the Victoria and Albert, I saw a Leonardo drawing of Mary, Jesus and St. John, on stained meat market paper. I said then that I’d never buy expensive paper again. ” 10 As if to emphasize his point, he noted that Harvesters (1947) was drawn on brown cardboard. He noted that he had started with soft lead pencils, but ﬁnally found conté, which was much more solid. Biggers observed: “When you make a hard line, it would stick.