Emil J. Bisttram

Emil Bisttram (1895–1976); American artist who lived in New York and Taos, New Mexico, and was known for his modernist work.

Born in Hungary in 1895. When he was 11 years old, his family immigrated to NYC.... He was a talented artist, and after a few years began his schooling at the National Academy of Art and Design, then Cooper Union, Parsons, and The Art Student's League. He began teaching soon after completing school, first at the NY School of Fine and Applied Arts, and then at the Master Institute of the Roerich Museum.

Bisttram first visited Taos in the summer of 1930. He later fell in love with the scenery and moved there. In 1931 he won a Guggenheim Fellowship to study mural painting. The fellowship enabled Bisttram to travel to Mexico where he studied mural painting with the world famous muralist Diego Rivera. Numerous mural commissions were to follow throughout his career (Department of Justice in Washington DC, Taos County Courthouse, NM, and Federal Courthouse in Roswell, NM). After returning to Taos in 1932, Bisttram started the Heptagon Gallery and the Taos School of Art. In 1938, Bisttram founded the Transcendental Painting Group with Raymond Jonson and several other Santa Fe artists....

Emil Bisttram’s artistic career is of special interest because of the fascinating array of spiritual, philosophical, and scientific traditions he brought to bear on his painting. Profoundly spiritual and convinced that all intellectual disciplines lead to divine truth, Bisttram enriched his compositions with references to such varied subjects as electricity, rebirth, the growth of plants, the healing power of the dance, planetary forces, the fourth dimension, and the male and female principles of nature.

Bisttram’s essential goal in building his compositions, however, was personal redemption. For Bisttram, dividing space on a blank sheet of paper replicated such proportional...
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First Collected by

Suzan Hamer


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