- Two Bathers
- 68 x 64 5⁄8 in. (172.7 x 164.2 cm.)
- Credit Line
- Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.
- Mediums Description
- oil on canvas
- Figure group — nude
- Recreation — sport and play — swimming
- Landscape — water
- Object Number
Two Bathers is a classical scene filtered through the abstract expressionism that dominated American art after World War II. Bischoff covered the canvas with hot reds, greens, and cool blues, and his liquid paint gives the women the same substance as the landscape. We perceive them as figures and as clusters of skillful marks in a network of brushstrokes. The distance between the two women, the stillness of their bodies, and strong contrasts of light and shadow lend the image the sharpened, poetic quality of memory.
Painting the figure, as Bischoff and other Bay Area artists chose to do throughout the 1950s and 1960s, challenged the prevailing idea of what art ought to be. These California artists felt that pure abstraction could not convey all they wanted to express, and returned to images of the human body. Bischoff taught as he painted, avoiding the party line of powerful critics and allowing his students the freedom to paint from life.
Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006