EARL BISS Master Oil Painter (1947-1998)
There are moments in history during which forces align or collide, after which the world is profoundly different. In the art world, those moments include Goya and Turner moving beyond romantic realism; Monet and Pissarro discovering Turner and Constable, which inspired them to create Impressionism; Picasso and Braque imagining Cubism; and Pollack, Rothko and the ‘irascibles’ launching Abstract Expressionism.
Earl Biss was a major catalyst for such a moment in art history. It was the moment that art produced by Native Americans evolved from folk art to fine art, and for the first time became a focus for major museums and mainstream collectors. That movement, which today we call the Southwest Art Movement, is still echoing through the world, as indigenous artists in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania take their rightful place in the global fine art market.
~ Excerpt from "Moving Paint", by John Goekler.
Earl Biss said, "I like my paintings to be experienced for the quality of the paint much more than the images that I portray. Because that is what truly makes an oil painter."
Biss was a perfectionist in getting the right proportions of oil paint, linseed oil, mineral spirits, and Damar varnish in his work – for the rich quality of the paint – and for ensuring the art would stand the test of time. Earl would paint a body of work all at once, often working in stretches of three to five days or more with little or no sleep. Likening the process to the Native American Sun Dance, Biss would stretch the limits of his mind and body to paint from altered states. Paintings would begin with abstract expressionist qualities, and images would then be pulled out of dynamic fields of color. Earl said of his images, "They were already there. I just let them out." One art critic believed that Earl Biss was the greatest colorist of the 20th Century.
A serigraph is a silk screened image. Biss serigraphs are limited editions, each one involving the artist's hand. Earl hand drew color separations on Mylar. Each serigraph involved 60 to 80 screens. A separate silk screen was created for each and every color and was washed out after use. Each screen was precisely placed over high quality serigraph paper, and then by hand squeegee, paint for a specific color was applied. This single application of one paint color had to dry for at least 24 to 48 hours before the next color paint could be applied. It can take a serographer up to 6 months to produce a run of as many as 300 serigraphs of the same image.
Earl Biss was a purist when it came to reproducing his work. He was a master lithographer earlier in his career and he was a master at serigraphs. His hand was in every step, and every color printed was approved by him in person. The colors of the serigraphs had to match the original paintings as closely as possible.
A canvas Giclee is a fine art reproduction using a high-quality inkjet printer to make individual copies.The term giclee originated in the early 1990s by a print maker whose aim was to distinguish the higher quality prints he was making from the negatively perceived term "inkjet." However, giclee printing is ink-jet printing. In fact, the word giclee is derived from the French word "gicler" which means to squirt or spray – as inkjet printers spray ink onto canvas. Over time, the usage of the word has evolved to be a catch all term for quality and best printing practices. Archival inks are designed to resist fading and the chemical composition allows the ink to hold fast to the printed surface. Simply put, a giclee is a well made canvas print that will last a long time.