Works in the Collection
John Biggers was born in Gastonia, North Carolina in 1924. Known for his narrative murals and outstanding draftsmanship, John Biggers dedicated his work to the depiction of the human condition. Biggers studied at Hampton Institute (now known as Hampton University) under Victor Lowenfeld and Charles White. In 1943, Biggers’ mural, “Dying Soldier”, was featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s landmark exhibition organized by Lowenfeld, “Young Negro Art”. After serving in the United States Navy, he enrolled in Pennsylvania State University (where Lowenfeld had relocated), earning a B.S. and M.S. and PhD. <br /><br />In 1949 Biggers moved to Houston, TX where he founded and then chaired the art department at Texas Southern University. In 1950, he was awarded first prize at the annual exhibition of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston for his painting, “The Cradle”. In 1957, he traveled to Africa on a UNESCO grant to study Western African cultural traditions, becoming one of the first black artists to travel to Africa. This opportunity, which he described as the “the most significant in my life’s experiences”, led to the publication of “Ananse: The Web of Life in Africa” (1961), a book of drawings and text based on his journeys in Ghana, Nigeria, and other parts of Africa. Biggers’s work drew inspiration from his ancestral heritage, African art, Southern black culture, nature, and everyday experiences. Biggers died in 2001.