Art Brokerage: B. 1906-1995 - A.E. Backus (Beanie) was mostly self taught, although he did enjoy two summer stints at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. At Parsons he learned the academic principles of symmetry and design that he had previously explored instinctually. Backus always earned his living thorough his artistic talent; first as a commercial artist painting signs, billboards and theater marquees. Much like a visual journal of his travels, Backus recorded his journeys through his artwork. During WWII, while in the Navy aboard the USS Hermitage, he painted in both watercolor and oils scenes of the South Pacific, the California coast and of the European ports he visited. Many of Backus' earlier paintings dating from the 1930s to the late 1960s are categorized as being more impressionistic than most of his later works, and were often done with a palette knife. Paint was applied to the canvas or board with impetuous and generous strokes. The palette knife was used deftly and with great courage. The juxtaposition of color next to color created a new and different reality for the viewer. Other than the early 20th century vacationing artists such as Winslow Homer or the Hudson River School icon Herman Herzog, Backus was the first artist to truly see the subtle beauty of Florida and to attempt to capture it on canvas. Backus was the seminal Florida landscape painter. All those who followed were in someway trying to emulate his work.
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