Charles Biederman

Structurist Relief, Red Wing No. 20


Not on display

Charles Biederman 1906–2004
Oil on aluminium
Object: 1048 × 914 × 149 mm
Purchased 1966

Display caption

An American painter and theorist, Biederman knew Mondrian in Paris in the 1930s. In 1937 he ceased to paint and concentrated on brilliantly coloured reliefs. Biederman sees his reliefs as extensions of painting and sculpture. He has emphasised the important role in the creative process of the viewer, who 'may experience the act of pure creation through the sense of visual perception'. He believes that only non-representational art can be purely creative, describing his work as an 'Art of Light'. After the Second World War, his writings on art influenced the British artist Victor Pasmore and his circle. The words Red Wing in the title of this relief refer to the artist's home in Minnesota, rather than to the colour of the work.

Gallery label, September 2004

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Catalogue entry

Charles Biederman born 1906

T00882 Structurist Relief, Red Wing No. 20 1954-65

Inscribed on back 'MADE IN USA | All Rights Reserved | #20 | Charles Biederman 1954' and stamped on metal blocks on the back '20 | 1954'
Aluminium alloy painted in oil, 41 1/4 x 36 x 5 7/8 (104.5 x 91 x 15)
Purchased from the artist through Marlborough Fine Art (Grant-in-Aid) 1966
Exh: Reliefs/Sculpture, Marlborough New London Gallery, London, September-October 1966 (6, repr.); Charles Biederman, Hayward Gallery, London, September-October 1969 (31, repr. in colour); Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester, November 1969-January 1970 (31, repr. in colour)

Although this relief happens to be mainly red the words Red Wing in the title refer to the place in which the artist works. He wrote (14 May 1967): 'The date 1954-1965 means that all my studies for this work, up to and including a small model, were concluded in 1954. It then remained but to execute the finished work in the scale intended. This was not done until 1965. #20 refers to the original sketch for this particular work. The studies and the model, which you call a maquette, do exist. What remains of these consist of the original sketch, the form in which all my work originates, the model and a mechanical drawing for the machine fabrication of the finished or completed work ...

'There are two levels on which I see any particular work. The first is the work as a totality uniquely of itself, produced for other human beings, whereby they may experience the act of pure creation through the sense of visual perception ... The new emphasis upon man as fundamentally a creative nature replaces the role that past art imposed with a releasing of the real freedom inherent in man to be creative. Structurism was the first art to make this emphasis as the new social role of art, which is of critical relevance to the present condition of man.

'The second level of a Structurist work involves the whole evolution of Western art in particular, in which I would then try to show how I try to add, as Cézanne put it, "a link". I have done this in three books ... Here, then, I would simply note that a Structurist work permits no compromise between the limited creative act of mimesis and the purely creative act of a truly non-mimetic act in art. This realization was gradually and unequivocally resolved by only three artists: Monet, Cézanne, and for a time by Mondrian (see my The New Cézanne).

'It is important to note that a Structurist work is neither painting nor sculpture, but a structural extension of the two. Specifically, Structurism evolves directly from painting, and is above all an Art of Light. It is then a continuance of Monet's discovery of the new role of light in the creation of a work, which was structurally developed through Cézanne's profound awareness of Monet's discovery.'

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.53, reproduced p.53


You might like