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August F. Biehle, Jr.

Born: Cleveland, Ohio

Helen C.  Biehle in A Brush with Light: Watercolor Painters of Northeast Ohio. Cleveland,OH: TheCleveland Artists Foundation, 1998:

Born in Cleveland in 1885, August F. Biehle, Jr. had a long career during which he painted in many different genres and styles.  In his teens, he was apprenticed to his father, a German master painter of decorative murals for private and public spaces. In 1903, Biehle sailed for Europe where he briefly studied in Paris, then for two years at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Munich. On his return to America, he worked as a color consultant for the Sherwin-Williams Paint Company and attended evening classes at the Cleveland School of Art where he studied figure and portraiture with Frederick Gottwald in preparation for entrance exams at Bavaria’s Royal Academy of Art in Munich. In 1910 he resumed his studies in Munich. While there, he saw the first exhibition of the German Expressionist group, Der Blaue Reiter, and became interested in modern painting.

Upon his return to Cleveland in 1912, Biehle worked as a commercial lithographer until his retirement in 1952.  In the early years, he was closely associated with William Sommer, who shared his enthusiasm for modern painting and invited Biehle to join the Kokoon Club, as well as the group of artists who met at Laukhuff’s bookstore to keep abreast of new ideas about art.

            In the fall of 1912, Biehle exhibited his European paintings at the Rorimer-Brooks Studios and the Korner and Wood Galleries.  In 1914 he participated in a group exhibition of American modernists at the William Taylor and Son Galleries.  His next solo show was in the Kokoon Club gallery in 1915.  He did not exhibit alone again until 1940, when his work was shown atClevelandCollege.  His last solo exhibition was in 1963.

Biehle painted in transparent and opaque watercolor while attending Henry Keller’s summer school in BerlinHeights. From 1926 to 1930, his paintings were included in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s yearly traveling exhibition of watercolors and pastels. He participated in the museum’s annual, juried May Show for well over 25 years, winning several prizes. He exhibited with other Clevelandartists at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York Cityin 1937, and in New York’s Regional Gallery in a three-man show in 1956. In the 1970s, he took part in several group shows, including one at the Butler Museum of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, and, most notably, in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s 1977 exhibition, A Study in Regional Taste: The May Show 1919-1975.

After Biehle’s death in 1979, his work was honored in two solo retrospectives, the first in 1986 at the Mather Gallery of Case Western Reserve University, the second in 1990 at the Stocker Center Gallery of Lorain County Community College. In 1991, he was one of five artists whose work was shown in the Cleveland Artists Foundation’s exhibition, Henry Keller’s Summer School in Berlin Heights, at Baldwin-Wallace College. His work was included in The Triumph of Color and Light, a traveling exhibition which originated in 1994 in the Columbus Museum of Art, and in 1996 in an important exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Transformations in Cleveland Art: 1796-1946, organized in celebration of the city’s bicentennial. In the same year, Biehle’s art and life were the subject of a videotape, European Vision/American Eye. (HCB)