Charles Biederman American, 1906-2004


Born Karel Josef in Ohio to Czech parents, Charles Biederman studied for 3 years at the Art Institute of Chicago (1926-29) before moving to New York in 1934; a decisive turn in his young career. The Albert Eugene Gallatin’s collection of Modern European artists which include Arp, Delaunay, Matisse, Mondrian, on display at the Library of New York Institute had a tremendous impact on Biederman who then resolved to devote himself entirely to abstraction. 


After his first solo exhibition at Henri Matisse Gallery in 1936, the artist travelled to Paris to visit the studios of these avant-garde artists amongst them Arp, Brancusi, Calder, Domela, Léger, Miró, Mondrian and Vantongerloo. The neoplastic artists were fundamental to his work, but the principles of Constructivism, Bauhaus and de Stijl were not extreme enough for him and a group of other artists whom Biederman befriended. He too, amongst others such as Joost Baljeu, Carlos Cairoli, Jean Gorin, and Carel Visser, wanted to address the ideal of synthetisis of the arts, towards architecture and urbanism. Often with new materials, his reliefs, described as Stucturists, embodied from 1937 onward, the ultimate evolution towards a greater realism, and the relationship between art and nature, an issue at the centre of many of his art publications (such as his major book Art as Evolution of Visual Knowledge, 1948). 


Moving from Chicago in 1941 to Red Wing, Minnesota, Biederman found himself surrounded by nature and explored further the neo-plastic doctrine use of strictly primary colours, enriching his chromatic range with multiple vivid colours. One of the great examples belongs to the Tate Gallery, Structurist relief, Red Wing N. 20, 1955-65.