Conspiracy, a major figure painting by Edward Biberman, recently has been added to LACMA’s permanent collection. Biberman is among the best of the California painters who worked in a modernist idiom starting in the 1930s. In addition to his signature urban landscapes and striking portraits, he also created powerful images relating to contemporary social and political events. Biberman was born in Philadelphia in 1904; both he and his older brother Herbert, expected to join the family garment business, wound up pursuing careers in the arts (Herbert as a writer for stage and screen). Edward began his career in Paris in the late 1920s, and subsequently settled in New York where he was included in on of the first exhibitions at the newly opened Museum of Modern Art. In 1936 he moved to Los Angeles, where he increasingly incorporated social concerns into his paintings. He also began making mural paintings and taught at the Art Center School. His social and political consciousness was heightened by the Spanish Civil War and the international rise of fascism. Even his portrait subjects, including Lena Horne and Paul Robeson, reflected his political leanings. Biberman’s career was put on hold for five months in the early 1950s when his brother Herbert, one of the Hollywood Ten, was imprisoned for his refusal to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee. The experience of living in Los Angeles during this politically charged period profoundly influenced Biberman, whose work of these years – including Conspiracy – clearly reflects the political realities of the day. Although he resigned from the Art Center School (in anticipation of dismissal for his political beliefs), he continued to teach throughout southern California. Biberman lived and worked in Los Angeles, known locally but largely ignored on the national art scene, until his death in 1986.More...
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