Born October 27, 1897, in Brooklyn, New York, Lena Gurr was the daughter of Hyman and Ida (Gorodnick) Gurr. She attended the Maxwell Training School for Teachers from 1915 to 1917, then turned her energies toward art. She studied painting and printmaking at the Educational Alliance Art School in 1919, and at the Art Students League (1920-1922), where she was a student of John Sloan and Maurice Stern. She also studied art in Paris, Nice, and Mentone, France. Her first solo exhibition was in 1932 at the Brooklyn Museum.
On November 24, 1931, Gurr married painter and photographer Joseph Biel. He was born October 27, 1891 in Russia, studied at the Russian Academy in Paris, and at the Workman's College, Melbourne, Australia. He also established the first Jewish Library in Melbourne. Upon his arrival in the United States, he studied under George Grosz at the Art Students League. Biel died in April 1943 of a heart ailment.