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"My formal education was based on the assumption that nature is a springboard to style and effect, and that an audience could enjoy both the material and the organization of a painting. My first paintings were an attempt to fulfill these requirements."
Newtown native John Foster first began painting as a child with his father, an amateur artist. Recognizing his son's ability, his father sent him to the Philadelphia Museum College of Art (now the University of the Arts). Following his graduation in 1930, he was employed as a cartoonist and later as a perspective draftsman for Brewster Aeronautical Corporation. After serving as a detachment artist in the Middle East during World War II, he returned to the Philadelphia Museum College of Art to teach. He was Director of the Freshman Program and later Professor of Drawing and Painting in the Department of Fine Arts.
Foster exhibited widely in Bucks County and the greater Philadelphia area. Some of his best known work depicted images of the streets and storefronts of Newtown broken into geometric patterns, including Ned's Cigar Store. He used the term neo-objective to describe his attempt to combine objectivity with surface design.
Portrait of John Foster by Ben Solowey. Image courtesy of The Studio of Ben Solowey, Bedminster, Pennsylvania.
Education and Training
Philadelphia Museum School of Art (now University of the Arts), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1926-1930
Teachers and Influences
Thornton Oakley, Teacher at the Philadelphia College of Art
Connection to Bucks County
John Foster was born in Newtown, Bucks County and lived in the same house on State Street his entire life. He exhibited widely in Bucks County throughout his career. Some of his best known work depicted images of the streets and storefronts of Newtown broken into geometric patterns.
Colleagues and Affiliations
Katharine Steele Renninger, Ben Solowey
Major Solo Exhibitions
Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1952
Playhouse Galleries, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1953
New Hope Fine Arts Workshop, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1958
Major Group Exhibitions
Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1952, 1958
Bucks County Invitational, Bucks County Council on the Arts at the Rodman House, 1986
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Wilmington Society of Fine Arts, Wilmington, Delaware
Gallery representation by Pearl Fox Gallery, Melrose Park, Pennsylvania; Crest Gallery, Yardley, Pennsylvania; Allerbescht Gallery, Souderton, Pennsylvania; Sandpiper Gallery, Stone Harbor, New Jersey.
Bucks County Intermediate Unit, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Watercolor Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dana Watercolor Medal
Best in Show, Fifth Annual Langhorne Art Exhibit, 1952
Medal, Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia, 1953
Williamson Prize, Phillips' Mill Community Art Association, 1961
Pennational Silver Medal at Legioner, Pennsylvania
Samuel Sutter Prize, Woodmere Art Gallery, 1974
Yardley Art Association, 1978
Grumbacher Silver Medal, 1982
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Director of the Freshman Program, Philadelphia Museum College of Art, 1957-1965
Professor of Drawing and Painting in the Department of Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum College of Art.
Contrasts in Transportation, mural for New Jersey State Highway Department Building, West Trenton, New Jersey