Standish Backus Jr
(1910 - 1989)
Standish Backus Jr was active/lived in California, Michigan. Standish Backus Jr is known for landscape, marine genre and mural painting.
Standish Backus Jr
Biography from the Archives of askART
Born in Detroit, Michigan to a wealthy family, Standish Backus studied
watercolor while an architecture student at Princeton and at the
University of Munich. His formal art training was limited
to a brief period of study with Eliot O'Hara.
Biography from California Watercolor
In 1935, he
moved to Santa Barbara, California and became active with the
California Water Color Society. During World War II, he was a
combat artist* for the Navy in the Pacific, and in 1955 participated in
Admiral Byrd's expedition to the South Pole.
In 1967, he designed the Pacific War Memorial mosaic mural for
Corregidor Island in Manila Bay. He was a California scene
painter and member of the American Watercolor Society*.
He died in Santa Barbara.
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Gordon McClelland and Jay Last, California Watercolors 1850-1970
* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see
Born in Detroit in 1910, Standish Backus graduated form Princeton
University in 1933 with a degree in architecture. He studied
painting the following year at the University of Munich, and later took
instruction with a watercolorist in Maine. After his return from
Europe, he settled in Santa Barbara, California, and worked full-time
as an artist, developing in the style of the California watercolorists
who were receiving national acclaim in the 1930s.
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commissioned as an Ensign in the inactive Naval Reserve in 1940,
Standish Backus became an active duty officer in 1941. During most of
the war he was assigned to the Net and Boom Defenses, first in the
South Pacific and then in Washington D.C. In 1945 he was
transferred to the Bureau of Naval Personnel to assist in establishing
a special Graphic Presentation Unit. Late in the War Standish
Backus was assigned to cover operations in the Pacific as a Combat
Artist. Backus received promotions throughout the war, attaining the
rank of Commander before returning to civilian life in May 1946.
to active duty, Backus accompanied Admiral Byrd to the Antarctica for
four months in 1955-56 to record images of the exploration.
Labeled "Operation Deepfreeze", this expedition did preliminary work
for the one in July 1956, which widely explored the Antarctic in
commemoration of the Geophysical Year.
During the original
exhibition of paintings from Operation Deepfreeze, Backus discussed why
the Navy sends artist to cover Naval activities. "The Navy appreciates
that the artist, in reporting his experiences, has the opportunity to
convey to his audience a large sense of realization of a subject, the
artist is obliged to contemplate the subject reflectively, seeking to
penetrate beyond the surface of factual representation, in order to
present the true nature of the experience."
After his work for
the Navy was completed Backus returned to California and continued
painting while also teaching at the University of California. As a
dedicated member of his community, he served on the boards of several
civic and arts organizations. He died in Santa Barbara in 1989.
There are 72 works by Standish Backus in the collection
CaliforniaWatercolor.com whose source is the Naval Historical Center of the Department of the Navy.
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