David Byrd


oil on canvas
12 x 15 inches

David Byrd painted in isolation for almost his entire life. Byrd was born in 1926 in Illinois, and at 17 joined the Merchant Marines, ultimately being drafted into the US Army during World War II. The GI Bill allowed him to enroll at the Ozenfant School of Fine Arts in New York City, where he studied under French painter Amédée Ozenfant. Byrd worked odd jobs to support his ability to paint, among them his job from 1958–1988 as an orderly in the psychiatric ward at the VA Hospital in Montrose, New York. A palpable sense of life’s unending struggle, helplessness, and perhaps a quiet dignity permeate his work, much of it inspired by his time at the VA hospital. His paintings are often quiet scenes painted in a muted, washed-out palette, seen here in Nurse Signing Order where a frail man watches as nurses sign the paperwork that controls his body and his fate. Byrd’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Fleisher Ollman, Philadelphia, PA (2018), and Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle (2013, 2017). Group shows include Byrd Hammond Klossowski Olowska at Balice Hertling, Paris (2018 – 2019), OUTSIDE-as in: out-of-doors, as in: not belonging to, curated by Matthew Higgs at Karma, Amagansett (2016), and The Patients and the Doctors: David Byrd and Peter Gallo at Zieher Smith Horton, New York (2015).