FRED BIESEL was born in Philadelphia on September 27, 1893. He studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Art Institute of Chicago. His outstanding teachers were Robert Henri, John Sloan, George Bellows, Robert Reid and Randall Davey. Abroad he has painted in France and Italy and, in this country, in New England and New Mexico. He is a member of the Chicago Society of Artists, the Chicago No-Jury Society of Artists and 10 Artists (Chicago), and has exhibited at the Art Institute and the Little Gallery in Chicago, at the Art Association of Newport, the State Museum of New Mexico, the Art Center of New York City and the Newark Museum. He has had one-artist exhibitions at the Art Institute and the Little Gallery in Chicago. His work has been written about in local newspapers and periodicals and in The Arts, by C. J. Bulliet, Samuel Putnam, J. Z. Jacobson, Tom Vickerman and Eleanor Jewett.
Subject matter to me is a necessary stimulus. Not to run around with squinting eyes seeing something that has beauty in it or that is dramatic but to be inspired by what is before you while painting is good. My selection of subject matter is undoubtedly motivated by something trivial: a haphazard color combination, a simple structural design-movement-the desire to paint a canvas forcing me to see a great deal more in the subject than really exists. All art is abstract. To model a realistic head would take flesh for the face and hair for the head, and that would require having babies. A design of lines and masses may not have subject matter, but is, nevertheless, no more abstract than the most hardboiled professional portrait. It is an old story that all the influences of modern painting come from the past. It is a wonderful thing for painters of today to have so much of the past available to read about and to see. The majority of the horde who paint today are lost in the morass of material of the past and present, but to the more talented, all this the galleries, magazines and prints-gives vigorous stimulus. The few artists (undoubtedly very little known) who express their own time are in Class A. All except these few are many laps behind-one generation at least-and the majority much more than that. I feel that my painting and also that of others about me is American. The material belongs here. I belong here. My friends belong here. But influences are another story. I cannot say that Gilbert Stuart has influenced me; but Robert Henri-on the other hand-well, he had ideas for young painters. Hearing artists talk about the past generation of French artists in glowing terms made us almost oblivious of the home forces. Cezanne, Renoir, Monet et al. were influences a young painter was fortunate to have. As dominating influences they have left their mark on all of us. The big influences for the young American artist of tomorrow, however, will, undoubtedly, be derived from the older American artists of today. Political, social, or other similar phenomena have never had a remote chance to influence my work. Painting gives me a religion, as I think it does the majority of artists. It is a profound moral attitude toward one's work. Very spiritual to me is the artist's studio as a retreat. It compares favorably with the retreat offered by various religious groups. The question as to whether my painting is influenced by a dealer or buyers is next in order. It has not been my good fortune to have that as something to worry about. My mother, up to the time of her death, was my patron-a patron who did not receive any pictures. My sister has taken up where my mother left off -under the same conditions. Fred Biesel.