By Christian Franzen
Elmer Bischoff was born July 8th 1916 in Berkley, California. Growing up in Berkley he was exposed to the artistic community at a young age. Bischoff went on to attend the University California Berkley in 1934 where he completed his BFA and then went on to receive his MFA from Berkley as well. Right after completing his masters program he was offered a teaching position at Sacramento High School, which he took. However, his new job as a teacher was short lived as he was drafted into military service in 1941.
During the war he was stationed in England, where he served in the intelligence services. He returned to the US in 1945 and found himself back in San Francisco. Returning to the art scene he was older than the emerging avant-garde scene in the bay area and wasn't sure what to make of himself for a short period. One day in January of 1946 he was visited by friend and fellow artist, Karl Kasten. Kasten was looking for someone to fill an opening in the faculty at California School of Fine Arts and Bischoff was his man. By this act of God the stars aligned and Bischoff befriended fellow post-war Artists David Park and Richard Diebenkorn, whom were also faculty at the School of Fine Arts. The three became fast friends held one an others opinion in high regard. The three also often participated in life model sessions with each other despite their abstract paint style.
Beginning in the early 1950's Bischoff became one of the founding fathers of the Bay Area Figurative Movement along with his friend David Park and Richard Diebenkorn. Together these men abandoned the format of abstract painting and contrary to everything popular happening around them returned to painting representationally. The legacy of the Bay Area school has gone onto influence artists up to the present and is the most influential California based movement in modern art.
Bischoff's paintings are considered to have a slightly more serious or dramatic tone to them which spans from his experiences in WWII. Despite their seriousness they are very energetic and have a distinctive lyrical quality somewhat different from the rest his contemporaries in the Bay Area Movement.
Bischoff continued to work and teach throughout his life. He died in March of 1991. A large retrospective was held in 2002 that traveled all over the United States and received critical acclaim. Bischoff was a incredibly influential painter and his mark has been imprinted upon legacy of California Painters.