Elmer Bischoff Biography

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Elmer Bischoff (1916-1991) Elmer Bischoff was born on July 6, 1916 in Berkeley, California. He studied at the University of California at Berkeley. Bischoff grew up in a home that valued the arts, painting and making music were important to him since childhood. As an art student he had spent about ten years painting in the style of Picasso. Following graduation from Berkeley in 1939, Bischoff became a ceramics and jewelry teacher at a high school in Sacramento, California and then served in the military for three years In 1946 he joined the faculty of the California School of Fine Arts, the wellspring of the Abstract Expressionist movement on the West Coast. The close friendships formed there with painters Richard Diebenkorn, Frank Lobdell, David Park and Hassel Smith greatly influenced him. This group began to revitalize the figurative tradition; these artists came to be known as the Bay Area figurative school. But in 1952 Bischoff resigned when his friend Hassel Smith was dropped from the faculty.

About this same time, Bischoff made a transition from pure abstraction to figurative painting. To earn money, he drove a truck for Railway Express and sketched during his lunch hour. From 1953 to 1956 he was an art instructor at Yuba College. In 1956 he had a very successful one-man show at the California School of Fine Arts and from that time he chaired their graduate school and became one of the school's most influential teachers. He taught at the University of California from 1963 until he died in 1991.

Sources include:

Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, 1986-7

Notes from the catalogue of the Laguna Art Museum of November/December 1986

Compiled and written by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher of Laguna Woods, California.

California Watercolor