John Bernhardt Figure Group Rare Early Work 1946
A fascinating oil on board. Are these men antagonists? Are they acrobats? Is one of the figures female? A world of its own is evoked as with the circus people in Picasso's work.
Measures 11 x 16, original matte 16 x 20.
Santa Barbara's John Bernhardt was born in Indiana in 1921, and from 1940 to 1943 was in a tuberculosis sanitarium, where his art interest began, through contact with a friend. In 1943 he attended the John Herron Art School in Indianapolis, where he studied drawing and painting, and in 1945 studied at the Fine Arts Center in Colorado springs, Colorado, where he studied with Boardman Robinson.
He began teaching at the University of Texas in 1947, and studied with Ralph Mayer at Columbia the following year. He married Bunny Pritchard in 1951 and continued to teach, moving every year or so. In 1957 they were in Mexico, and in 1959 they moved to Santa Barbara, California. In 1960 he founded a Gallery in Santa Barbara, and he continued to exhibit around the country, receiving multiple awards, as he had done since 1949. He died at the age of 42 in Santa Barbara on June 23, 1963.
Exhibits of note since then include a memorial exhibiton at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art the year after his death, the modernist exhibit "40 Years of California Assemblage" at the Wight Art Gallery of UCLA, San Jose Museum of Art and Fresno Art Museum.