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A.E. Backus | Painter, Artist & Teacher | Albert Backus

Albert Ernest Backus known by A.E. Backus or Beanie (American 1906 - 1990). Backus was an artists, painter, teacher, philanthropist and WWII veteran. He gained great notoriety as a Florida Landscape Artist and is considered to have played a significant roll in the start of the Florida Highwaymen Art movement as Backus taught Alfred Hair the art format and style used by the Highwaymen in the painting of their now famous Florida Landscapes.

Born in South Florida along the Indian River in 1903, A.E. Backus was a self-taught painter, attending only a few formal teaching classes as a student at Parsons art school in New York City. Backus lived a very modest life, without excess and was always generous in donating monies to charities or those in need. His door was always open to anyone needing a place to stay.

Early on he painted signs, billboards and movie marquees, but Backus is most known as a prolific painter of lush, vibrant and colorful Florida landscape scenes. There was not a native Florida flower, plant, cloud or animal which he would not know the name of. Backus began painting in the 1920's and continued to paint up until his death in 1990. Backus spent time in the Navy in WWII, where he continued to paint oils and watercolors of the areas he visited, which included the South Pacific and Europe. His early works (1920's - 50's) were considered more impressionistic in style, using heavily applied paints and a pallet knife. As Backus's career progressed, his art became more refined and utilized much more brushwork rather than knife. As he moved more in to brush work his paintings became more defined and detailed.

Backus considered teaching to be a significant part of his life, and in this took many students under his wing over the years. These students were often referred to as "Backus Brats". Probably considered the most notable of the Backus Brats would have been Alfred Hair, a little known, but quite ambitious African American painter in the Fort Pierce area. Hair learned the style by which he could create Florida Landscape paintings from Backus, and thus began the Florida Highwaymen Art movement. Hair went on to recruit 25 friends and family to paint these unique and colorful Florida landscapes. The group came to be known as the Original 26 Florida Highwaymen. Once formed, this group of Highwaymen painted hundreds of thousands of paintings and sold them mainly door to door of local businesses in the area. Many of the the living Highwaymen still paint to this day.

Today Backus paintings are highly sought after and collected by many of the worlds top collectors.

Manor Auctions is a leading Fine Art Auction Gallery. If you are considering selling a Backus painting, contact Manor Auctions for a no cost appraisal consultation. Manor travels nationally for fine art and collections.

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