John Biggers

  • Born 1924 in Gastonia, NC, USA
  • Died 2001 in Houston, TX, USA
John Biggers began his studies in 1941 at the Hampton Institute in Virginia, where he met his early mentor Viktor Lowenfeld (1903–1869) and studied with artists Charles White (1918–1979) and Elizabeth Catlett (1915–2012). After serving in the Navy he followed Lowenfeld to Pennsylvania State University in 1946, where he received his doctorate in art education in 1954. Biggers is best known for his murals on the human condition. An early one (Dying Soldier, YEAR) was shown at the Young Negro Art exhibition organized by Lowenfeld in 1943 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Biggers moved to Houston in 1949, where he established the art department at Texas Southern University. He taught at this institution for more than thirty years. In 1957 Biggers received a UNESCO grant, which enabled him to become one of the first African-American artists to travel to Africa. He visited Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. After his sojourn Biggers created the richly illustrated book Ananse: The Web of Life in Africa, published in 1961, and developed a system of visual icons inspired by African motifs and symbolism. His later work became concerned with depicting matriarchal systems (opposed to European patriarchy) and quilt-like geometry

Artworks by John Biggers in the exhibition