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 Theodore Czebotar  (1915 - 1996)

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Lived/Active: Wisconsin/New York      Known for: landscape, regional, portrait and social realist painting

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Theodore  Czebotar
An example of work by Theodore Czebotar
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Theodore Czebotar came of age in the Midwest during the devastation of the Great Depression.  Unable to afford art school (and ill-suited to its demands besides) Czebotar was a largely self-taught artist who worked in watercolor, oils, graphite and pastel.
 
He derived his early subject matter from family life and from the city around him before beginning years of travel as a train-hopping hobo, gathering new subject matter in the vast American west.  Czebotar lived for a time in Denver, Colorado where he assisted muralist Paschal Quackenbush and worked as a scenic designer for the city’s Federal Theatre Project.  He later resided in San Francisco where he counted among his friends rising literary star William Saroyan.  Returning to Wisconsin, Czebotar was discovered during the height of the American Regionalist movement by one of its stalwarts, John Steuart Curry.  Curry’s Manhattan art dealer, Maynard Walker, soon welcomed Czebotar into his artistic fold and sponsored his first one-man show in 1937.
 
Exempt from military service in World War II due to a hernia, Czebotar relocated to Manhattan in 1942.  Couchsurfing in the homes of artists Don Freeman and Altina Miranda, Czebotar eventually moved to artist Joe Jone’s small Fishkill, New York, studio in 1943 after Jones enlisted in the Department of War’s combat artist program.  Czebotar’s companion and, later, his wife, designer Elizabeth Snapper, purchased the Fishkill property in the summer of 1943.
 
From 1937 through the mid 1950s, Czebotar exhibited in solo and group shows with Walker Galleries in both New York and California, at The Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the American British Art Center, Frazier Galleries, the Berkshire Museum, the Brooklyn Museum and other venues.  His work was often displayed alongside those of friends and contemporaries including John Heliker, Henry Varnum Poor, John Steuart Curry and Olin Dows. 

Although Czebotar painted almost everyday well into the 1990s, he stopped exhibiting publicly when he came to believe the demands of the commercial art world placed too many limitations on the artist.
 
Rooted in the traditions of regionalism, Czebotar insisted throughout his long career that he simply painted what he saw.  Nonetheless, his work was consistently shaped by a need to simplify and abstract.  The loose quality of early work - an attempt to eliminate the unnecessary - evolved over time into a desire to capture the aboriginal impulse of the landscape. 

Washington’s untamed Olympic Peninsula was the artist’s final muse and produced the landscapes for which he is best known today.  
 
Theodore Czebotar died at his home in Fishkill, New York in 1997.

Submitted by Patricia Hamilton, who has done extensive research on the artist. She wrote that her information is from "material drawn from private correspondence, diaries and writings; interviews by the author; and correspondence and other materials obtained with permission from Stanford University, The New York Public Library and Columbia University.
 


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