BORN: February 1, 1923 in Tulsa, OK
DIED: April 16, 2002 in Del Mar, CA
A long-term member of the UW-Madison Art Department, D. Gibson Byrd (1923-2002) was a figurative and landscape painter, and a master of coloristic subtleties and atmospheric effects. Art critic James Auer stated he was “a leading Wisconsin artist for 35 years” (WSJ 2002 Obituary). Byrd’s interest in figurative painting started in the early 1950s, and this work emphasized social realism, angst and banality in the twentieth century, and auto-biographical fantasy. Around 1980, Byrd turned away from a narrative, psychological approach, focusing his attention on rural landscapes, particularly in southern Wisconsin and coastal southern California where he retired to in 1991. His strong feel for the land was partly derived from his Indian heritage (his grandmother was a Shawnee Indian and he was a qualified member of the Shawnee Tribe). Although best known as an oil painter, he also worked in the mediums of gouache, pastel, and charcoal.
Byrd was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and after high school worked as a draftsman for two years before serving as a B-17 engineer/top turret gunner during WWII. After receiving a B.A. in Art from the University of Tulsa in 1949, and his M.A. of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa in 1950, he taught high school art in Tulsa. From 1952-1955 he was Director of the Kalamazoo Art Center, a...