John Bernhardt

male 1921-1963
20th Century
Life city:
Indianapolis, IN
Work city:
Indianapolis, IN
Still Lifes
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re: John Bernhardt

The following was submitted by a site visitor: John Bernhardt was born in 1921 in Indianapolis. His father was a pattern maker. When John entered Arsenal Tech High School, he took art classes and specialized in commercial art. Upon graduation, he briefly putting his art career aside when he entered Butler University in 1939, switching to business. Shortly after his enrollment, he was stricken with tuberculosis and sent to a recovery hospital., where he spent the next three years from the illness. His roommatem Herman Ziegner, encouraged John to take up art again. By 1943 he had recovered enough to leave the hospital. He now decided to take his interest in art seriously and enrolled as a part time student at John Herron Art School in Indianapolis, mostly concentrating on drawing and painting. Once fully recovered, he moved to Colorado to study at the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. There he would be influenced by Boardman Robinson, a famous illustrator. John Bernhardt started teaching in 1947, when he became Instructor of Drawing and Painting at the University of Texas. In 1948 he moved to New York City and studied woodcutting with Ralph Mayer at Columbia University, though he was also working as a commercial designer. He continued to paint and make woodcuts in his studio, and make sketches of city scenes in NYC. By 1952, he quit his job and worked solely on his art. He had his first one-man show in 1954. After exhibiting around the country, he also took teaching jobs in NYC and in Boston. He then moved to Santa Barbara, California and helped found Gallery 8, an artist's co-op. In the 50's he had many one-man shows, with the focus being woodcuts and painting. By the late 50's and early 60's he started working on assemblage sculpture, using discarded and 'found' items. He had a mild heart attack in 1962, but recovered well enough to continue to work, exhibit and win awards. But sadly, in 1963, he died suddenly due to a lack of artery circulation, at the age of 42. His work is in the collections of the the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Library of Congress, Los Angeles Co. Museum, Boston Museum, Cincinnati Museum, Dallas Museum, National Gallery, and many others.

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