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Charles Biederman.

Three-dimensional painted aluminum constructions are among a vast collection bequeathed to the Weisman by modern artist Charles Biederman (above).

On exhibit: a lasting gift

Weisman acquires the $8 million collection of modern artist Charles Biederman

From M, summer 2007

Known as "the worldly sage of Red Wing," the reclusive artist Charles Biederman (1906-2004) was an acclaimed American abstract modernist who spent 60 years in the wooded bluffs outside Red Wing, Minnesota.

In the 1930s, Biederman visited the Paris studios of Leger, Mondrian, Picasso, Arp, and Brancusi, but turned his back on commercial success to chart his own course. From his secluded Red Wing farmhouse, Biederman pursued a pioneering, nature-inspired vision and played an essential role in the evolution of 20th century art.

"Expansion in the Wings

To display more works of Charles Biederman and other 20th century masters, the Weisman is expanding its gallery space. The Frank Gehry-designed addition will also house a caf? and the Target Studio for Creative Collaboration. A capital campaign, featuring $2 million in University matching funds, is underway to pay for the expansion.

Biederman's estate has bequeathed to the Weisman Art Museum a vast collection of his work, including paintings, sculptures, writings, and his signature three-dimensional painted aluminum constructions from the 1950s on--considered his lasting achievement. A single rich hue such as vibrant red covered a surface the size of a traditional painting, upon which Biederman constructed colorful squares and rectangles in rhythmic patterns. Art historians have called it "pure visual language."

"Because Minnesota inspired his artistic vision, he wanted his collection to stay in the state," said Lyndel King, director of the Weisman. "Biederman is better known in Europe than in the United States, but as time goes on, his work will take its rightful place here."