Lot

613

John Thomas Biggers (US/Texas, 1924-2001)

In Summer NOAG Interiors Live Auction

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New Orleans, Louisiana
John Thomas Biggers
(American/Texas, 1924-2001)

"Old Spanish Trail Market, Houston, Texas", 1970

graphite on paper
signed, titled, dated and inscribed lower right to the family of his friend and fellow artist Jean-Paul Hubbard.
Unframed.
21-7/8" x 26"

Provenance: Gifted by the artist to the Hubbard family, thence by descent.

Notes: One of the most significant African-American artists of the 20th century, John Thomas Biggers was born the youngest of seven children to a family that stressed the importance of education, creativity and spirituality. Growing up in the tight-knit black community of Gastonia, North Carolina, Biggers has stated that he had a relatively pleasant childhood, and that he was encouraged in his artistic and intellectual pursuits.

Biggers enrolled in Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia, where he studied with Victor Lowenfeld, an Austrian who had fled Europe. Lowenfeld was one of the first to publicly acknowledge the artistic significance and influence of African culture on modern art, and he encouraged his students to eschew the artistic conventions of the time to pursue something that was more immediate, more personal to them and their heritage. For many of these students, this was the first validation of their particular experience from someone outside of the African-American community.

In 1943, Biggers was included in the Young Negro Art exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. That same year, Biggers was drafted into the Navy, eventually becoming an illustrator. During this time, he began to refine his technique, working extensively in graphite and Conte crayon, employing a distinct hatching to create a sense of depth and volume.

After his discharge from the Navy, Biggers attended Pennsylvania State University, receiving his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in 1948; he would later receive his doctorate from that institution in 1954 for his Negro Women in American Life and Education. In 1949, Biggers accepted a position as Professor at Texas State College for Negros (now Texas Southern University), where he was instrumental in setting up the art department. His colleague and fellow artist Jean-Paul Hubbard, to whom this drawing is dedicated, was equally committed to the advancement of African-Americans in the arts.

Hubbard, a native of Berkeley, California, was an Associate Professor at Tennessee State University in Nashville and was chairman of the Central State College Art Department. He taught art and art history at Southern University in Baton Rouge for thirty years, and was eventually appointed as the Chairman of the Fine Arts Department. He held numerous exhibits throughout his career, including at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee Alabama, Alcorn College in Mississippi, the Baton Rouge Gallery, and the Masur Museum of Art in Monroe, Louisiana.

As evidenced by the fine drawing presented here, Biggers captures a snapshot vignette of African-American women at the market creating both depth of space and character through a nuanced command of line quality: colossal in their matriarchal presence outlined against a white ground, each unique with a different handbag and accessories - including a tignon and (cross-hatched) seagrass basket hat that pay homage to Caribbean and Carolina roots - and each with a different dress print that riffs off the shapes of market, each forming a collective part of African-American culture in a market, situated in another historic cross-road of American culture - the Old Spanish Trail, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans from St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California.
John Thomas Biggers
(American/Texas, 1924-2001)

"Old Spanish Trail Market, Houston, Texas", 1970

graphite on paper
signed, titled, dated and inscribed lower right to the family of his friend and fellow artist Jean-Paul Hubbard.
Unframed.
21-7/8" x 26"

Provenance: Gifted by the artist to the Hubbard family, thence by descent.

Notes: One of the most significant African-American artists of the 20th century, John Thomas Biggers was born the youngest of seven children to a family that stressed the importance of education, creativity and spirituality. Growing up in the tight-knit black community of Gastonia, North Carolina, Biggers has stated that he had a relatively pleasant childhood, and that he was encouraged in his artistic and intellectual pursuits.

Biggers enrolled in Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia, where he studied with Victor Lowenfeld, an Austrian who had fled Europe. Lowenfeld was one of the first to publicly acknowledge the artistic significance and influence of African culture on modern art, and he encouraged his students to eschew the artistic conventions of the time to pursue something that was more immediate, more personal to them and their heritage. For many of these students, this was the first validation of their particular experience from someone outside of the African-American community.

In 1943, Biggers was included in the Young Negro Art exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. That same year, Biggers was drafted into the Navy, eventually becoming an illustrator. During this time, he began to refine his technique, working extensively in graphite and Conte crayon, employing a distinct hatching to create a sense of depth and volume.

After his discharge from the Navy, Biggers attended Pennsylvania State University, receiving his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in 1948; he would later receive his doctorate from that institution in 1954 for his Negro Women in American Life and Education. In 1949, Biggers accepted a position as Professor at Texas State College for Negros (now Texas Southern University), where he was instrumental in setting up the art department. His colleague and fellow artist Jean-Paul Hubbard, to whom this drawing is dedicated, was equally committed to the advancement of African-Americans in the arts.

Hubbard, a native of Berkeley, California, was an Associate Professor at Tennessee State University in Nashville and was chairman of the Central State College Art Department. He taught art and art history at Southern University in Baton Rouge for thirty years, and was eventually appointed as the Chairman of the Fine Arts Department. He held numerous exhibits throughout his career, including at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee Alabama, Alcorn College in Mississippi, the Baton Rouge Gallery, and the Masur Museum of Art in Monroe, Louisiana.

As evidenced by the fine drawing presented here, Biggers captures a snapshot vignette of African-American women at the market creating both depth of space and character through a nuanced command of line quality: colossal in their matriarchal presence outlined against a white ground, each unique with a different handbag and accessories - including a tignon and (cross-hatched) seagrass basket hat that pay homage to Caribbean and Carolina roots - and each with a different dress print that riffs off the shapes of market, each forming a collective part of African-American culture in a market, situated in another historic cross-road of American culture - the Old Spanish Trail, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans from St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California.

Summer NOAG Interiors Live Auction

Sale Date(s)
Lots: 1-631
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Louisiana
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United States

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