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Gardens and Grandeur: Porcelains and Paintings by Franz A. Bischoff
June 25 - October 23, 2011
"Gardens and Grandeur: Porcelains and Paintings by Franz A. Bischoff" opened at the Crocker on June 25 and will be on view through October 23, 2011. This exhibition will feature approximately 40 examples of Bischoff's work, including porcelains, still lifes, and Impressionist landscapes.
After beginning his career as a china painter in Bavaria, Bischoff immigrated to the United States in 1885 to become one of the foremost porcelain painters of his day. He won numerous awards and earned the title "King of the Rose Painters." When he moved to California in 1906, he began to paint still lifes and landscapes, including the coastal areas of Monterey and Laguna Beach, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and desert regions.
"Gardens and Grandeur" was organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art and curated by Jean Stern, the executive director of the Irvine Museum. The Crocker's chief curator and associate director, Scott A. Shields, Ph.D., contributed an essay to the exhibition catalogue.
Article from ArtLetter, the Crocker's members magazine, July-August-September 2011:
By the mid-1890s, Franz A. Bischoff (1864-1929) was widely regarded as America's foremost china painter and soon earned the nickname "King of the Rose Painters." Later, in California, he became known as one of the West's foremost Impressionists. Gardens & Grandeur: Porcelains and Paintings by Franz A. Bischoff showcases both sides of the artist's production, including 14 exquisite floral porcelains and approximately 25 still lifes and landscapes on canvas.
Bischoff began his career as an apprentice china painter in Bavaria. At 18, he went to Vienna, where he pursued additional training in painting, design, and ceramic decoration. He arrived in New York in August of 1885 and took a job as a decorator in a china factory. He also worked in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; New Bedford, Massachusetts; and Fostoria, Ohio, where on May 24, 1890, he married. That year, Bischoff accepted an invitation to join the china painting studio of Mary Leicester Wagner, and he and his new wife relocated to Detroit, Michigan. Shortly thereafter, he moved to nearby Dearborn, where he taught china decorating and watercolor painting and produced elegant porcelains elaborately decorated with flowers. Formulating and manufacturing many of his own china colors, he won numerous awards and earned a national reputation. He taught scores of budding china painters not only in Dearborn, but at the Bischoff School of Ceramic Art in Detroit and New York City.
In 1906, Bischoff moved to California. Two years later, he built a studio-home along the Arroyo Seco in South Pasadena, which included a gallery, ceramic workshop, and painting studio. He also planted flowers, which provided models for his china painting and the new oil paintings that increasingly occupied his attention. His floral focus was perfectly in keeping with his new environment and served to communicate the essence of the Los Angeles region, and Pasadena in particular, a town that formalized its love affair with the rose into an annual festival and parade-the Tournament of Roses-in 1890.
Bischoff also began to paint roses on canvas more frequently. Without the space limitations imposed by porcelain, he had free reign to create floral fantasies composed of dozens of blossoms that both stood on their own and became part of complex, multi-object compositions. In these, vases, furniture, and draperies recalled an aesthetic-period infatuation with Chinoiserie and Japonisme. He also depicted flowers outdoors in close-up views taken directly from the garden, filling the canvas from edge to edge in a profusion of petals, light, and pigment.
Such depictions naturally evolved into other outdoor scenes of the region's beautiful terrain. In an effort to hone his skills at painting the landscape, he returned to Europe in 1912 to study works by the Old Masters and the Impressionists. Back in California, he fully adopted the light and color of Impressionism to portray sweeping views of Southern California's coast, colorful canyons, flower-filled valleys, and deserts. Other paintings were more personal, depicting Bischoff's garden, home, and family. Over time, he expanded his scope to include the coastal areas of Monterey and Laguna Beach, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Palm Springs, and Zion National Park. The paintings became increasingly colorful, showcasing his familiarity with European Modernism and his continued evolution as an artist.
Gardens and Grandeur: Porcelains and Paintings by Franz A. Bischoffwas organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art.
Venues & Dates:
Wall panel text
Franz A. Bischoff (1864-1929) was born in Steinschönau in northern Bohemia. He began his career as an apprentice china painter in Bavaria before immigrating to the United States in 1885. He soon became one of the foremost porcelain painters of his day, founding the Bischoff School of Ceramic Art in Detroit and New York City. His floral decorations on porcelain vases and plates earned him the nickname: "King of the Rose Painters."
Bischoff moved to Southern California in 1906 and settled along the Arroyo Seco in South Pasadena with his family. There, he began to pursue oil painting on canvas. In 1912, he returned to his native Europe to study works by the Old Masters and French Impressionists. His later work became increasingly dramatic and colorful, at times with daring color harmonies suggestive of Fauvism and other avant-garde styles.
Bischoff's landscape paintings ultimately included views of the Arroyo Seco of Pasadena, the coast of Monterey, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the cliffs of Utah. He also produced still lifes and figurative paintings. His keen eye for form, color, and composition has ensured his legacy as one of California's most widely appreciated painters of the early twentieth century.
This exhibition was curated by Jean Stern of The Irvine Museum and organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art.
The exhibition is accompanied by a 224-page, full-color catalogue titled "Franz A. Bischoff: The Life and Art of an American Master." The catalogue features an essay by Scott A. Shields, Ph.D., Associate Director and Chief Curator, and is available in the Museum Store.
Resource Library editor's note
The above ArtLetter article was reprinted in Resource Library with permission of the Crocker Art Museum, granted to TFAO on July 6, 2011. Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Kathleen Richards and Michele Roberts of the Crocker Art Museum for their help concerning permission for reprinting the above article
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