Elmer Bischoff. Breakfast Clubs and Evening Drawing

Clip of Elmer Bischoff speaking in The Berkeley Artists Breakfast Club, 1990. Full length version available at https://vimeo.com/95426121 Video by Guillermo Pulido.

Often portraying figures in isolation, Elmer Bischoff’s expressions of solitude suggest that being alone is fundamental to being human.1 But throughout his career, Bischoff consistently fostered camaraderie with fellow artists, companionships that supported and challenged his deeply expressive art practice. When he first joined the faculty at the California School of Fine Arts (now San Francisco Art Institute) in 1946, Bischoff regularly got together with Hassel Smith and Richard Diebenkorn for vigorous drawing sessions he likened to “workouts at the gym.”2 Returning to the faculty for a second time in 1956, he began attending Wednesday evening drawing sessions that Theophilus Brown, Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, and Paul Wonner hosted at the 2571 Shattuck Avenue complex in Berkeley, where several of them and eventually Bischoff himself had studio space. Later, when Bischoff began teaching at the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1960s, he cofounded Friday breakfast meetings, with other artists teaching at Berkeley along with some students, that came to be known as the Berkeley Artists Breakfast Club.

  1. Donald Kuspit, Elmer Bischoff: Paintings from the Figurative Period, 1954­1970 (San Francisco: John Berggruen Gallery, 1990), 9. ↩︎

  2. Susan Landauer, Elmer Bischoff: The Ethics of Paint (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 55. ↩︎