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"City Street Scene," Framed Original Oil On Board, Signed Gideon
This is a modernistic nicely framed street scene, with vivid colors.
It is in Very Good Condition.
Measures 10" x 8".
Signed Lower Right.
Gideon (11 January 1924 - 21 December, 2010) is an American Master Artist and Sculptor. His paintings and sculptures include some of the world's most known subjects, including the famous Gideon Holocaust Collection.
Signed Gideon (early works were sometimes signed E. Gideon), his works cover nearly the entire spectrum of artistic creativity; Abstract, Impressionistic, Modernistic, Portraits, Landscapes, Seascapes, Sculptures and more.
Gideon has been described as an "artist who borders on being an elemental force" whose own ambitions guided him in the development of revolutionary paints and sculpting compounds, technique and form and application.
Gideon was born in 1924 in the small town of Overland Park, Kansas. As a child born into a poor mid-west family, growing up during The Great Depression and Dust Bowl made life very difficult.
As early as five years old, motivated by his own inner drive, he would fashion paint brushes from twigs, rags and pieces of cotton. He spent hours carving, with only a pocket knife, and painting figures with tiny rags on a stick.
One of these figures was from the long-running cartoon strip "Bringing Up Father" (a.k.a. Maggie & Jiggs). He entered his carving of Jiggs in a school art contest and won first prize -- 25 cents. With his winnings, Gideon was then able to go to the dime store and purchase two very small cans of paint at 10 cents each, the first real paints he had ever had.
At the age of 12 he created a remarkable portrait of his grandfather done in blue chalk he had picked up from the hardware store. Many of the items he made, including the 78 year old carving of Jiggs, are still in his possession today.
Gideon's early teenage years were spent traveling from state to state with his father and uncle, both of whom were alcoholic drifters. Working whenever he could find someone who would hire a child, Gideon took on several jobs including working on a farm picking fruit and vegetables, working in a laundry, as a janitor for a church, in a donut shop glazing donuts, in an ice cream manufacturing plant and becoming an experience-trained house painter.
When he turned 15, Gideon traveled to Inglewood, CA. He joined a CCC Camp (Civilian Conservation Corps). These camps were designed to give people something to do and keep them off the streets during The Great Depression. However, it also attracted a lot of undesirables a few of whom, immediately, began harassing young Gideon. When he learned about their plan to shave his head and paint it green, he left.
Gideon went to stay with his aunt and uncle in Chicago. They lived in a two-story wooden house with two bedrooms and a bath upstairs. His aunt's mother slept in one of the bedrooms and Gideon had to sleep on a cot at the foot of her bed. While in Chicago, he worked in a machine shop and began training as a welder. He eventually became a certified welder and iron worker for Chicago Bridge & Iron, a skill he would later come to use extensively in his sculptures.
While there, he entered the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts where he was enrolled in an evening nude figures charcoal class, the first class you were required to take. Just getting to the school was extremely difficult taking hours of walking in all types of weather. The age-old "When I was a kid, I had to walk miles, to and from school, in knee-deep snow and driving sleet" was a reality for Gideon. Within a few months, someone offered him a job and he left the Academy.
In 1943, even though as a welder he had received a military deferment, Gideon went to Kansas City, Missouri and enlisted in the Army. He remembers the train, with all of the new inductees, pulling into the station outside of Camp Blanding, Florida and being met by the 66th Division Band. Gideon was placed in Field Artillery. However, shortly after his arrival, he was 1 of 100 men chosen to undergo Army Ranger training simultaneously with basic training. Upon completion of training and intense testing, he was one of a few in his division who actually became an Army Ranger.
Corporal Gideon was sent to England with the 66th "Black Panther" Division where he awaited orders. His division was scheduled to be a part of the infamous Battle of the Bulge. While crossing the English Channel, their boats were torpedoed resulting in many casualties. Luckily, Gideon was uninjured although he witnessed countless ships in the division exploding and set ablaze. The division, severely under strength, was then rerouted to the front lines in Southern France where Gideon found himself manning a howitzer with the remnants of the 66th.
Of his experiences in Southern France, Gideon writes: "After we crossed the English Channel, we all got in trucks, 10 to 13 to each vehicle. It was bitter cold. We headed to Southern France and went directly to the frontlines, but our convoy of trucks and men got lost on the country roads.
"The big guns were going off, trying to pin down our location. The whole sky would light up, like being in the middle of a great fireworks display. Nonetheless, it was very dangerous to get that close to the German lines.
"Only one of our boys could speak a little French, and we finally settled in the woods and made our stand. We built small huts out of anything we could find. Anywhere from two to five guys would sleep in them, but most of us lived in pup tents. We packed snow all around the tents to keep the cold air from blowing in. Every night the Germans would start shooting at us; thousands of tracer bullets streaming over our heads. I could almost reach up and touch them. The sky lit up like 4th of July, only it wasn't a party. They were firing at us, and it was very much for real.
"We killed a lot of Germans while we were there, and spent a lot of time firing above them so the shrapnel would rain down on them and their gun positions. It was bitterly cold but we couldn't build fires at night for risk of giving up our position. I had icicles on my helmet and shoulders most of the time. Rain, sleet, snow, mud... we lived in it. Sometimes, we could build small fires in the daytime and dry out a little. Imagine crawling into a three foot high pup tent filled with frozen mud, it's snowing outside and you're trying to get some sleep. There was mud all over our boots -- and we didn't take them off, either.
"All we had for lunch was a peanut butter sandwich, but we sure had plenty of cigarettes. Each man was issued a carton a week, like it or not. For a toilet we would dig a trench in the frozen ground. No frills. Just cold."
Even while engulfed in the war, Gideon continued his passion to draw and sketch, storing his sketches and meager drawing implements in a cardboard canister of the type used to pack howitzer shells.
Gideon was reassigned to the 42nd "Rainbow" Division in Salzburg, Austria. At this time, Austria was overwhelmed with homeless civilians, displaced persons liberated from the concentration camps and SS captives. The aftermath of war created a nightmarish logistical problem for the Allies. As an Army Ranger, Gideon was charged with the task of guarding some of the SS captives and tending to the displaced persons.
Gideon witnessed first hand things that have haunted both his dreams and his waking hours through all the intervening years. He watched the endless trails of lost human beings trundling along the roadsides in an attempt to find their way back home through the ashes and the rubble that were the legacy of World War II.
He had seen the fighting of war, perhaps the worst in history, and now he served as an eyewitness to its Genocide and the awful aftermath. Obsessed by the visions he experienced during the war, Gideon would go on to paint and sculpt some of the most harrowing and poignant images of post-Holocaust Europe ever produced.
Ironically, at that time, Gideon had never heard of the famous European artists Gauguin, Renoir or Van Gogh and had no idea of the historic implication the time spent in Europe during the war years would have on his future. This can be seen, today, in his Holocaust Collection. In certain circles he is known as the "Holocaust Man."
Consisting of his sketches from the frontlines, more than 3 dozen original paintings and nearly a dozen sculptures (some life-size), Gideon's Holocaust collection remains an artistic journal to this horrific time in human history.
This collection is still privately held by Gideon, images of the works can be viewed in the award-winning book, The Holocaust Chronicle on pages 389, 426 and 599. Editor-in-Chief David Hogan wrote of Gideon's Holocaust works: "The pieces are striking, and have considerable impact on the printed page. I'm very taken by Gideon's work."
After the war, Gideon settled in Miami, Florida with "decorations for valor, memories of the kind of combat duty that scars you somewhere inside, and $300."
Shortly after his arrival in Miami, he got married and had two children. With a family to raise, he became involved in commercial enterprises. He worked painting houses on Miami Beach, as well as painting blouses and other decorative items for sale locally. He briefly attended the Terry Art School in Miami with assistance from the GI Bill, but quickly dedicated most of his waking hours to making a living through his art. In one respect, Gideon is no different than so many other artists struggling to survive-- dealing with the tremendous expense of purchasing art supplies in order to satisfy the need to create. Gideon soon realized that a small $75 tube of paint would not go very far -- and that was just one color! Another problem with the tubes of paint was the slow drying process and lack of pliability.
Early on, he began a life-long quest to develop a formula for manufacturing large quantities of paint that would not crack or turn yellow with time, and that was also quick drying and pliable.
As a child, his daughter Terry recalls, "that there were always pieces of cardboard covered with globs of paint laying around the house. He would mix color pigment, oil, etc. in five gallon buckets, stirring with a big stick. He did all of this with no knowledge of chemistry."
Gideon could not afford a new drill to make the mixing process easier so he bought a used 3/4" drill from a relative for $10. Over the years, when the drill would break he would weld it and keep going. He still has that drill! Without the years of experimentation and eventual development of his own paint, he would never have been able to produce the volume of work that exists today. Gideon firmly believes that the exorbitant cost of art supplies can stifle creativity in people who might, otherwise, pursue a life in art.
For nearly 60 years, almost all of Gideon's original works were created from Gideon's own paint recipes. Today, these formulas remain unavailable to the public.
While coming up with his paint formula Gideon was, simultaneously, working on various sculpting compounds that would not fall apart but, rather, would become very solid and hard. The result of this difficult endeavor is a vast collection of sculptures varying in size from small clay studies measuring several inches, to heavy compounds with steel welded frames standing more than seven feet tall and weighing several thousand pounds. The wide variety of beautiful finishes is indescribable.
Like his paints, Gideon's sculpting formulas and compounds are not available to the public and remain valued secrets known only to Gideon. He operated his own private art gallery in Miami, Florida, selling some works to private collectors directly as he needed to survive. He never dealt with third-party galleries, auction houses or dealers again.
Unfortunately, the poor environment Gideon has been forced to work in during the past 60 years has taken its toll on his health. The many chemicals and various epoxies involved in his work, have caused breathing problems. Since the 1990's, Gideon has suffered from COPD and diminished breathing capacity.
Thursday, April 12, 2001 was declared "Gideon Day" with an official Proclamation by the Miami-Dade County Office of the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners whereby Mayor Alex Penelas and Commissioner Javier Souto proclaimed "[We] call upon the good people of Miami-Dade County to join me in recognizing this extraordinary artist and citizen for all of his invaluable contributions to this community as well as the culture of South Florida."
In November 2002, Gideon left Miami after 56 years and moved to Thomasville, Georgia in an effort to get away from city life and rest peacefully. At 78 years of age, the relocation of his life's work was a huge undertaking and one that he doesn't want to repeat. Gideon's private art works required nearly a dozen large moving trucks and countless trips and man hours.
In 2004, Gideon was diagnosed with a very rare and debilitating disease, Myasthenia Gravis. Plagued with double vision, lack of muscle control, difficulty eating and swallowing and breathing failure, Gideon has truly struggled to continue to paint and sculpt.
In December, 2010, Gideon passed away. The world lost a great artist.
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Miriam Barkus, Davie, FL
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