John T. Biggers

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John Thomas Biggers (April 13, 1924 – January 25, 2001)[1] was an African-American muralist who came to prominence after the Harlem Renaissance and toward the end of World War II. Biggers was born in Gastonia, North Carolina, and attended the Lincoln Academy, the Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), and then Pennsylvania State University, from which he earned a doctorate in 1954. From 1954 to 1955, he was in his home town, working on the many paintings that are now very well distinguished.

His works can be found at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, primarily in the campus library.

In Houston, Texas, Biggers founded the art department at Houston's Texas State University for Negroes (now Texas Southern University) in 1949. Biggers received a fellowship in 1957 from UNESCO, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, allowing him to become one of the first African-American artists to visit Africa.

Biggers studied under Viktor Lowenfeld at Hampton Institute, who significantly influenced Biggers in his artistic development. Biggers later created works that reflected his perspective of the anguish that people have suffered merely because of their race or religious beliefs.

Auction records[edit]

On October 8, 2009, Swann Galleries set an auction record for any work by Biggers when they sold the painting Shotguns, acrylic and oil on canvas, 1987, for $216,000 in a sale of African-American Fine Art. A stellar representation of the shotgun-style houses found in Southern black communities, the painting had been widely exhibited and was considered a culmination of Biggers’s work. It had remained in a private collection since being acquired directly from the artist in 1987.


  1. ^ Jason Sweeney, "Biggers, John Thomas", Texas State Historical Association.

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