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 Paul DiBert  (1930 - 2009)

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Lived/Active: Utah/California      Known for: trompe l'oeil still life

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Paul DiBert
An example of work by Paul DiBert
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A trompe l'oeil still life painter, Paul DiBert hearkens back to the traditional values of his French Huguenot Pennsylvania ancestors with his paintings focused on values of light and dark and precise depictions of everyday objects. Early in his career he did a variety of subjects but ultimately focused primarily on still lifes because, with his introverted personality, he is more comfortable with the intimacy of those kinds of arrangements. However, having moved to Logan, Utah in the 1980s, he has painted a few landscapes, especially of the Wasatch Mountains whose quiet atmosphere suits his way of working.

DiBert was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and much of his childhood was spent on the road with his mother and father, who was a musician. The family finally settled in Detroit. He quit highschool in 1946 and entered the service at age 17. Stationed in Alaska, he painted a watercolor picture of an old Russian Church, which was placed by General Luther Miller in his Pentagon office where he was Chief of Chaplains. For DiBert, it was a defining moment when he saw his painting in such a prestigious place.

Leaving the service in 1948, DiBert focused on an art career and studied in Pittsburgh with Henry Marcus Moran, a commercial artist. From him, he learned a basic understanding of drawing and detail, although he was not admiring of Moran's assertion that art was just a trade with which one made money.

In the early 1950s, DiBert moved to Florida, where he divided his time between making props for small theatres and sets for the Ringling Brothers Circus. After several years, he abandoned his paint brushes and wandered the country, this time with a wife and four children, and "tried settling in nearly every section of the United States." (Southwest Art 83). Of this nearly ten-year period in his life when he stayed away from fine art, he later said that it was a bad time anyway for his realist style of work. "Abstracts were selling in galleries then and not much else". (ibid)

In Los Angeles, DiBert began painting again and showed his work to others. Don Wells, co-founder with actress Mary Pickford of the American Institute of Fine Arts, began to promote his work, and DiBert had one-man shows at the Biltmore and Regency Galleries in Los Angeles, the Regency Galleries in Laguna Beach, and the Taos Gallery in Taos.

Of his first one-man show in Los Angeles, William Wilson wrote in a review in the 'Los Angeles Times': "the thing that is fascinating about DiBert's dark, varnished pictures is their ethical function. One realizes that these are moral allegories as were the works of ancestors; Harnett, Peto, and the Dutch Specialists. They seem to speak of a man with simple values of distresssed by the world outside". (Taos Gallery brochure).

Prizes ensued including a Gold Medal from the Council of Traditional Artists Societies and Life Membership from the American Institute of Fine Arts. He also earned the Jose Drudis Foundation Award for outstanding work in 1969.

Exhibition pamphlet, The Taos Art Gallery, Taos, New Mexico
Sue Van Alfen, "Southwest Art", 'Paul DiBert', February 1981

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