Arne Besser, American (1935 - 2012)

Arne Besser

Arne Besser born in Hinsdale, Illinois in 1935, received training as an artist at the Art Center School, Los Angeles. There he studied with John Audubon Tyler and Lorser Feidelsson.

Besser's approach to Photo-Realism is to draw from the urban landscape and nature a suscint "set like" image of reality. His city scenes depict New York street life alive with trading and traders, prostitutes and junkies looking for a fix. These visual images iconify the underside of urban life in a way that elevates this point of view to an almost mythic level.

Born on May 11, 1935, in Hinsdale, Ill., to Henry Besser, a bank owner, and the former Irene Jackson, he graduated from high school in nearby Downers Grove and then went west to attend art school in New Mexico. He also trained at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, under the tutelage of Lorser Feitelson, an artist who, said Mr. Morell, is credited with inventing the “hard-edge” style of painting.
Mr. Besser was stationed in Alaska while serving in the Army, and liked to regale his companion with tales of long nights in a sleeping bag in below-freezing weather.

“I first met him selling magnificent paintings for $150 on the corner of Fifth and 14th Street,” said Mr. Duke Morell (Arne's partner for 47 years), who was so impressed that he opened a gallery solely to feature Mr. Besser’s

Inspired by John James Audubon, Mr. Besser applied oil to canvas to capture a variety of scenes, from edgy street-life portraits to buildings, landscapes, and animals. “When Arne painted a cat, that cat lived in the canvas,” Mr. Morell said. “You could just about pluck its hairs off.”

Mr. Besser’s work has appeared in galleries throughout North America and Europe, including the Smithsonian, said Mr. Morell, adding that he suddenly stopped painting 10 years ago, and “I’ll never know exactly why.”

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