Following in the tradition of artists who traveled to idyllic Zoar, Ohio to study and work, the exhibition focuses on time spent there by August Biehle and the myriad stylistic choices he exercised between the years 1915-1940.
Zoar, a popular vacation spot for Clevelanders during the nineteen-teens and twenties, was initially settled by German Lutheran Separatists. The countryside was appealing to both the city folks who sought to escape urban industrialization and artists of German heritage like Biehle. Zoar was a paradise where artists and others could explore their own cultural traditions. Eventually, during the 1930s, Zoar’s picturesque landscapes were transformed by industrialization and a piece of the ‘New Utopia’ was lost. But for Biehle and other artists like William Sommer and William Zorach, Zoar was a paradise for early modern landscape painting.
Featured paintings will highlight developments in Biehle’s landscapes. The influence of Art Nouveau and the Blaue Reiter groups during his stay in Europe characterized Biehle’s early paintings of Zoar with the implementation of mixed mediums, loose lines, and flat, geometric shapes. At the same time, Sommer and Zorach, his new colleagues, infused new ideas of brighter colors and flattened layers of figures into Biehle’s landscapes. However, following the death of his father in 1918, Biehle returned to a method of working and color palette that characterized his earlier works in Munich. Biehle's paintings from the 1920s make up his most distinguished paintings of Zoar, works for which he was often recognized.