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 Edgar Britton  (1901 - 1982)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/Colorado/Nebraska      Known for: mural and landscape painting, sculpture

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Ad Code: 3
Edgar Britton
from Auction House Records.
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Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Known primarily for his murals, Edgar Britton was also a painter in oil and watercolor and a sculptor in bronze.  His work, with "simplified, weighty forms", (Kennedy 95) was obviously influenced by the social-realist style of the Mexican muralists including Diego Rivera, Jose Orozco, and David Siqueiros.

Britton was born in Kearney, Nebraska and studied at the University of Iowa and with Grand Wood from 1920 to 1924.

His reputation was established during the Depression years when he did numerous paintings and murals for the Federal Art Project including serving as Director from 1940 to 1941 of the mural division of the Illinois Art Project.  His fresco work, completed for the Works Progress Administration, is in the Waterloo, Iowa Post Office; and Chicago Heights, Illinois at Bloom High School.  On June 3, 1982, it was named the first high school in Illinois to be a National Historic site, in part because of the Edgar Britton's frescoes, which are in the entrance of the building and on other walls throughout Bloom High School. (Information from Roland Ramirez, 1982 graduate of Bloom High School).

Because he had tuberculosis, his doctor advised him to go to Colorado, which he did in the mid 1940s, and he stayed there the remainder of his life and focused primarily on creating sculpture.  He also taught art at the Fountain Valley School for boys and the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center.  From 1967 to 1971, he was a member of the Fine Arts Commission of Denver, and he served as President of the Artists Equity in Colorado Springs.

Art exhibitions:
"The Lyrical Line: Edgar Britton's Passion for the Human Figure." Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. 20 January-13 May 2001. 

 "The Erotic Art of Edgar Britton," Coburn Gallery, Colorado College. 28 March -18 April, 2001.

Reviews of book and exhibitions:
Joanne Ditmer, "Brazen bronze: Book spotlights Britton's graceful local figures." Denver Post. 4 June 2001.
Michael Paglia, "Mind and Body: Edgar Britton's legacy is rediscovered." Westword.  12-18 April, 2001.

Mark Arnest, "Exhibits show Britton's work is both erotic, innocent." The Gazette. Colorado Springs, 6 April 2001.

Mary Chandler, "Work celebrates human body." Rocky Mountain News. 25 March 2001.

John Hazlehurst, "Tracing the Lyrical Line." The Independent. Colorado Springs, 18-24 January 2001.

Sources include:
Louise Dunn Yochim, Role and Impact: The Chicago Society of Artists
Elizabeth Kennedy, Chicago Modern, 1893-1945
Exhibition and book review information courtesy of Jane Hilberry
Roland Ramirez, Chicago Heights, Illinois
Exhibition Record (Museums, Institutions and Awards):
Denver Art Museum, 1943, 1944, 1945; Pasadena Art Institute, 1946; Colorado Springs Fine, 1945; University of Nebraska, 1945.
Chicago Society of Artists.

These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:
Born Kearney, NE, Apr. 15, 1901; died Denver, CO, Apr. 1982. Painter. Teacher. Sculptor. Studied at the University of Iowa; University of Kansas, Lawrence with Karl Mattern and Albert Bloch. Taught at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. WPA mural artist.
Art Institute of Chicago; Denver Art Museum; Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center; University of Nebraska; Dept. of Interior Building, Washington, DC.

Chicago Society of Artists.

Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
AskArt,, accessed Aug. 10, 2006;, accessed Aug. 10, 2006
This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

Biography from David Cook Galleries:

Born in Kearney, Nebraska, Edgar Britton was a muralist, bronze sculptor, and landscape painter. He studied at the University of Iowa from 1918-1920, and with Grant Wood from 1920-1924.

Britton was influenced by the social-realist style of the Mexican muralists, such as Diego Rivera, Jose Orozco, and David Siqueiros. He was commissioned to do architectural art in Chicago from 1925 to 1935. During the 1930’s, he did seven murals for the Works Progress Administration, including the Department of the Interior Building in Washington D.C. Britton served as Director of the mural division of the Illinois Art Project from 1940 to 1941.

In 1941, Britton moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Britton was soon diagnosed with tuberculosis, and his doctor advised him to move to the drier climate of Colorado. He remained in Colorado for the rest of his life and devoted his time to creating sculptures. He was commissioned to do sculptural work in Colorado Springs and Denver. At the request of Boardman Robinson, he became an instructor of painting at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. He was an instructor at the Fine Arts Center from 1943-1950. He was also an instructor of painting at the Fountain Valley School from 1942-1950. From 1967 to 1971, Britton was a member of the Fine Arts Commission of Denver, and he served as President of the Artists Equity in Colorado Springs.

Exhibited: AIC, WMAA, 1933-1937; PAFA, 1939; Denver Art Mus., 1943-45, (prize 1944), 1948 (Anne Evans Memorial Prize for painting), opening show, 1972 and solo show, 1972; Pasadena AI, 1946, (prize), 1949 (first prize for painting); Univ. Nebraska, 1945; Colorado Springs FA Center, 1945, 1946 (prize), 1953, 1955; Corcoran Gal, 1947; Des Moines Art Center, 1949-50, 1952; solo and group shows, Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs; Denver Chapter, Am. Inst. Architects, 1971 (award); Littledale Gallery, Littleton, CO, 1970s.

Works held: AIC; Denver Art Mus.; Colorado Springs FA Center; Pasadena AI; Univ. Nebraska; USPO, East Moline, IL; Dept. Interior Build., Wash., DC; U.S. Nat. Bank, Colorado Springs Library, CO; Genesis, Antlers Plaza, Colorado Springs; The Family, Denver General Hosp. Commissions: frescoes for Chicago Heights H.S. and Deerfield Shields H.S., WPA, 1935; frescoes, Lane Technical H.S., Chicago, IL, 1937; frescoes, 1939 and frescoes for Waterloo Post Office, Iowa, 1940, U.S. Dept. Interior Fine Arts Commission.

Further Reading: Pikes Peak Vision: The Broadmoor Art Academy, 1919-1945. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center: Colorado Springs, 1989.; Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America, Vol. I. Peter Hastings Falk, Georgia Kuchen and Veronica Roessler, eds.,Sound View Press, Madison, Connecticut, 1999. 3 Vols.

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