André Charles Biéler, 1896 - 1989
André Biéler was a Swiss-born Canadian painter, teacher and the founder and first president of the Federation of Canadian Artists, which was instrumental in the foundation of the Canada Council.
Biéler immigrated with his family to Montréal in 1908 and in 1915 served with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in WWI. He was seriously wounded in battle and took some time out in Florida to recuperate. During his recuperation he was given art instruction by Harry Davis Fluhart.
From 1920 to 1926, Biéler took advantage of a veteran’s grant to continue his art studies and joined the Art Student’s League of New York, where he studied under Charles Rosen and Eugene Speicher. Upon completion of his studies, he returned to Switzerland to study further under his uncle Ernest Biéler, a muralist.
In 1929, he returned to Canada and set up a studio in Montreal, earning a living by taking commercial work and teaching. During this time, Biéler organized and led the “Oxford Group” of artists along with Edwin Holgate.
Biéler became a professor of art at Queens University in 1936, and five years later, in 1941, he organized and led the conference of Canadian Artists. This quickly led to establishing the Federation of Canadian Artists with Biéler as the first president, which led to the 1957 formation of the Canada Council and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario.
Bieler is best known for his paintings of the habitants of Quebec, however, he spent time in Western Canada when taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts in the summers of 1940, 1947, 1949 and 1952.
Biéler exhibited internationally in Geneva, Switzerland and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and domestically in Montreal, Kingston, Quebec City, Edmonton, Calgary, Banff, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Toronto.
Two major retrospective exhibitions were held at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in 1963 and in 1970. The 1970 retrospective, André Biéler, 50 years: a retrospective exhibition 1920-1970 traveled across Canada.
André Charles Biéler died in Kingston, ON on 1 December 1989.
Canadian Group of Painters
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts
The Federation of Canadian Artists, founder and president
Order of Canada (1987)
J. W. L. Forster Award from the Ontario Society of Artists (1957)
Museum of the Province of Québec, QB
Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, QB
The Art Gallery Of Ontario, ON
Hart House, Toronto, ON
Queen’s University, Kingston, ON
Art Collection Society of Kingston, ON
Windsor Art Association, ON
Winnipeg Art Gallery, MA
Edmonton Art Gallery, AB
The National Gallery of Canada, ON
The Feckless Collection, Vancouver, BC