Barbara Gardner1923 – 2005

Barbara Gardner was born in New Jersey in 1923. While she graduated high school with a degree in general office work, she had always spent her spare time making sketches and drawings.

She began her working life as a file clerk at the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company but took courses in art school at night. She was soon transferred to doing art work for the company and was put in charge of designing health literature and medical exhibits. Here she developed her illustrator skills; those skills were present in most of her later work.

In 1960, she left the Metropolitan Life to devote all of her time to her painting. Early on she experimented with different material, colored tissue paper, pastels, etc. but felt most comfortable with oil paints, in spite of having no formal training with that medium.

In her life as a suburban housewife, Barbara lived the life we all lead dealing with the plumber, the mailman, the Avon lady, the auto mechanic and put those perceptions into her art as all important artists must. For the rest of us who must endure our daily frustrations with silent resignation, Barbara’s eloquent and powerful canvases engage us and provide the assurance that we are not alone and not without a voice to protest our condition.

In a catalog to introduce some of her early paintings, it was said “It is the stunning contrast of the mundane exterior and vivid interior of Gardner’s life, so reminiscent of similar dualities in the life of Rene Magritte, that engages us and offers assurance that the high vision of surrealism may thrive as readily in New Jersey as in Belgium. That Gardner has studied her masters – Margritte, Delvaux and de Chirico – is obvious. That she has created her own strong place, her own unique and visionary transformation is obvious as well. We may glance at this triumph over the mundane adversities of life, and we are all enlarged and enobled by this victory”.

When Barbara passed in 2005, a small collection of her work was recovered from her studio and the gallery in New York where her work was presented. The paintings displayed on this site were selected from that collection and are felt to best represent her extraordinary talent.

For further information please contact Robin Daglian at

Shows & Exhibitions

  • 1974 Group Exhibition Allied Artists of America
    New York City
  • 1975 Group Exhibition Gruenebaum Gallery
    New York City
  • 1975 Solo Exhibition Gruenebaum Gallery
    New York City
  • 1976 Group Exhibition Audubon Artists
    New York City
  • 1977 Group Exhibition 1st Biennial New Jersey Artists
    Newark NJ State Museum
  • 1977 Permanent Collection Newark NJ State Museum
  • 1978 Solo Exhibition Petrenko Gallery
    New York City
  • 1979 Group Exhibition Summit Art Center
    Summit, New Jersey
  • 1979 Group Exhibition Squibb Gallery
    Princeton, New Jersey
  • 1984 Group Exhibition Biennial New Jersey Artists
    Newark NJ State Museum
  • 1991 Solo Exhibition Summa Gallery
    New York City
  • 1996 Exhibition Art & Healing: Selections from the Albert Grokoest Collection
    Emerson Gallery - Hamilton College, Clinton NY
Barbara Gardner