Biss, Earl

1947-1998

After a fine classical education in the arts, a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and several years of study at the San Francisco Art Institute, Biss continued with a year of independent study in Europe. His works are alive in imagination, with flowing, textured strokes of color and form conveying the moods of job and wonder in the dreams and hopes of an exciting people who are his own, the Crow Indian.

A member of the Crow Nation, was one of the most prominent American Indian artists. His paintings are hanging in museums around the world.

A student of American Indian artists Alan Houser and Charles Loloma and a contemporary of T.C. Cannon, Kevin Red Star and Doug Hyde. Biss was born in 1947 in Renton, Washington, and was taken six days later to the Crow nation in Montana, where he was reared by his grandmother. He was a descendant of Chief White Man Runs Him, who was contracted by the U.S. government to track the Sioux for General George Custer. The Sioux were enemies of the Crow, so his task was considered a great honor.

At 8 years of age Biss was taken out of school after coming down with rheumatic fever. His father later enrolled him in his first oil-painting classes.

Biss received a scholarship to the Institute of American Indian Arts, where he studied jewelry and three-dimensional art from 1963-65. After graduation, he received a scholarship to the San Francisco Art Institute, where he studied oil painting.

Biss traveled to Europe, studying in Amsterdam and Rome and picking up painting techniques from traditional masters. He also studied art in the Mediterranean.

He was a strong advocate of oil paintings, once saying, “Ninety-nine percent of the artists in the United States don’t really know oil painting, and if an artist doesn’t paint in oils, then he isn’t a real artist.”

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