Skip to main content

Biographical Note | A Finding Aid to the Elmer Bischoff papers, 1914-1990

Elmer Bischoff papers, 1914-1990

Biographical Note

Elmer Bischoff (1916-1991) was an influential painter and arts instructor in the San Francisco Bay Area figurative art movement that emerged in the early 1950s.
Bischoff grew up in Berkeley, California and attended the University of California (UC) at Berkeley, receiving his Master of Arts in 1939. During the Great Depression, he became involved with the Federal Art Project and taught ceramics at an arts center in Sacramento, California. During World War II, he served in the US Air Force and was stationed in England as an intelligence officer. When he returned to California in 1945, he taught at the California School of Fine Arts (now known as San Francisco Art Institute) with Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Ad Reinhardt. He resigned from the school in the early 1950s when he took up figurative painting, but returned in 1956 to head the graduate program. In 1963 he became an associate professor at UC Berkeley, and was promoted to full professor in 1965, where he stayed until he retired in 1985.