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Barse Miller

 (1904 - 1973)
Barse Miller was active/lived in California, Maine.  Barse Miller is known for regional scene easel and mural painting, teaching, illustration.

Barse Miller

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Barse Miller
Born in New York City, Barse Miller became a painter and muralist, studying art first from his mother, Susan Barse Miller (1875-1935), an academically trained artist.  At age eleven, he began studies at the National Academy of Design in New York and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts with Henry Snell and Hugh Breckenridge.  He also studied in Paris and then from 1924 taught drawing at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and did murals for the WPA.

In the 1920s, he joined the California Watercolor Society and is best known there for Los Angeles area scenes.  He became a World War II special artist- correspondent for Life magazine, and was attached to General MacArthur's Pacific headquarters as chief of the Combat Art Section.

Following the war, he taught in New York at the Art Center School and Queens College but maintained a studio in Maine.  He also made occasional trips back to California and in 1966 taught at the Rex Brandt Summer School.

He died in Mexico in 1973.

Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940

Biography from
Barse Miller began formal art instruction at the National Academy of Design while still in elementary school.  There he received instruction from Henry Snell.  A few years later, he continued his education with Hugh Breckenridge at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  Both of these teachers were award winning watercolorists.  At eighteen years of age he was awarded the Cresson Traveling Scholarship which enabled him to study and paint in Europe for two years.

In 1924, he moved to Los Angeles and settled.  The next year he began exhibiting with the California Art Club and by 1928, was an active member of the California Water Color Society, serving as its president in 1936, 1937, and 1938.  His watercolors from this era were quite different than most works being produced on the West Coast.  They often included cityscape subjects with people, automobiles and industrial objects.  As the new era of California watercolorists, led by Millard Sheets and Phil Dike, emerged in the early 1930s, they welcomed Miller into the movement and revered him as one of the leading figures.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the watercolors of Barse Miller became increasingly popular, and his ability to manipulate wet-into-wet washes had a huge impact on many of his students and fellow artists.  His many years of formal art instruction gave him an advantage because of his knowledge of color and design, so when the California Group was being scrutinized in the 1930s, his work helped greatly to give the overall movement credibility.

During World War II, Miller went into the United States Army and became head of the Combat Art Section in the South Pacific.  He produced a number of watercolors and was awarded for his artistic contributions that visually documented the war in that region. After the war, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and eventually settled in New York state. His watercolors after this period became increasingly modern, as he sought to relate to a changing art world.

During his period in California, Miller taught at the Chouinard Art Institute and, for ten years, at the Art Center School.  As a teacher of watercolor painting, he helped many of the most successful California watercolorists to understand the possibilities of this unique medium.  In later years, he also made special visits to the West Coast to teach at the Brandt-Dike Summer School of Painting and other watercolor workshops.

In addition to watercolor painting, he also exhibited oil paintings and produced a number of murals.

Source: Gordon T. McClelland and Jay T. Last, California Watercolors 1850-1970 Biographical information in this book is based on interview with Betty Miller, 1984 and interview with Rex Brandt, 1983

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About  Barse Miller

Born:  1904 - New York City
Died:   1973 - Matzatlan, Mexico
Known for:  regional scene easel and mural painting, teaching, illustration

Essays referring to
Barse Miller

The California Art Club