South Bend 1891
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Arthur Runquist, the elder of the two Runquist brothers, was born in South Bend, Washington in 1891 and educated at the University of Oregon. He was Alfred Schroff’s assistant there until he left in 1920 to study at the Art Students League. Like his brother Albert, he exhibited at the New York World's Fair in 1939 and the American Artists Congress in New York a year later. In addition, Arthur had work at the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939. Working for the WPA, he completed two murals with the theme, Tree of Life, painted in 1938 at the University of Oregon. Albert also assisted on this project, as did Martina Gangle. Murals for Pendleton High School in Eastern Oregon were completed in 1941.
Arthur served in the Kaiser Shipyards in Vancouver, Washington from 1942-1945. His painted documentation of the workers gained him a reputation for social commentary. Figures are more prominent in his work than in his brother Albert's. Even landscapes were secondary in importance to the people appearing in them. Like his brother, he recorded life on the Oregon coast with sensitivity. In their early works it is often difficult to distinguish one brother's work from the other. It was only later that their styles began to differ. Arthur's work was somewhat tighter, more linear and figure centered, while Albert's was looser, more painterly, showing atmosphere and effects of light.
In 1963 the brothers returned to Portland and continued painting until shortly before Arthur died in 1971 and Albert later the same year. Often thought of as one person because they lived their lives in parallel, the Runquist brothers played an important role as social critics of life in the 1930s and 1940s. They are also remembered as important chroniclers of life on the Oregon coast.
Artist biography reproduced with permission from the authors, Oregon Painters: the First Hundred Years (1859-1959), Ginny Allen and Jody Klevit.
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