David Bierk (1944-2002)
David Bierk was born in 1944 in Appleton, Minnesota and earned his MFA at Humboldt State University, California. In 1971, he immigrated to Peterborough, Ontario. He lived in Canada for the rest of his life.
Bierk’s work has been exhibited widely since the 1960s, both in the United States and Canada. His work is represented in numerous collections, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, National Gallery of Canada, Canada Council Art Bank and the Harvard Law School.
Works of Art
Ontario Highway 7/Home Abandoned, Study 1991
Oil on Photos on Paper
19 x 28 in (48.3 x 72 cm)
Provenance: Paul Kuhn Gallery
Bierk’s painted photographs spring from the same source as his paintings, the interest in where land meets sky, where mists and clouds conceal, where water reflects land and sky, trees and flowers. They are based on photographs he took on his travels throughout the United States and Canada. He photographed in panoramic format, mounted the images on canvas or board, and painted into and beyond the photographic border to create a complete image. Thus, the images are part “real” and part imagined from the artist’s hand and mind.
Bierk worked on this body of painted photographs from 1989-1992, well before many artists began to manipulate photographs, use multiple images, or apply paint to their surface. Each image is unique as a photograph, and each unique in its application of paint, each varnished to a shimmering, glistening surface. The combination of materials expresses contemporary concerns between ideas of nature and culture, originality and appropriation, tradition and modernity.
Ontario Highway 7/Abandoned Home features a typical gold hued sky and is a fine example of Bierk’s painted photographs of this period.
A Eulogy to Life, Locked in Migration, to Ingres 1999
31 x 46 in (78.7 x 116.8 cm)
Oil on Inkjet photo on canvas, oil on canvas, rusted iron on board
After 1987 Bierk began splitting his compositions into a diptych format; using one side for a landscape based on the work of painters such as Constable and the other for figurative work by masters such as Vermeer, Michelangelo or Caravaggio. Paintings by the French Neoclassical artist Jean August Dominque Ingres (1780-1867) appear regularly in his work. While each side of the paintings could stand on their own together the mood and the colour are in sympathy with the other work.
In A Eulogy to Life, Locked in Migration, to Ingres Bierk paints on the left an oil insert on a photo on canvas of The Valpincon Bather by Ingres. On the right, he paints a landscape in the style of the Hudson River School and inserts it into a rusted iron on board frame within the frame.
The Valpinçon Bather (Fr: La Grande Baigneuse) is an 1808 painting by the French Neoclassical artist Jean August Dominique Ingres (1780–1867), held in the Louvre since 1879. Painted while the artist was studying at the French Academy in Rome, it was originally titled Seated Woman but later became known after one of its nineteenth-century owners.
The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by romanticism. The paintings for which the movement is named depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the Catskill, Adirondack and the White Mountains.
David Bierk with Essay by Donald Kusbit, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 2000, Plate