Orange County Museum of Art
Newport Beach, CA
Circles of Influence: Impressionism to Modernism in Southern California Art 1910-1930
The establishment of an art community in Southern California coincided with the building and expansion of Los Angeles itself. From the 1890s until the stock market crashed in 1929, the region experienced a period of dramatic economic, social, and cultural growth propelled by real estate development, oil, tourism, and the film industry. During these decades, the new Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art opened, major art schools were established, and Southern California painters formed numerous groups for the purpose of promoting their work. Those artists who forged the transition from conservative to avant-garde aesthetics were concerned with the brilliant effects of color and the drama of expressive brushwork. In fact, the paintings they produced, many of which followed the figurative tradition, defied the region's aesthetic preference for beautiful landscapes. Trained in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and abroad, these painters brought a cosmopolitan sensibility and appreciation for new ideas with them when they moved West and they maintained a consistent dialogue between the West and East coasts. (left above: Henrietta Shore, Women of Oaxaca, 1927-28, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches, The Buck Collection, Laguna Hills, California)
Left to right: Robert Henri, Tam Gan, 1914, oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches, Collection of Allbright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, Sarah A.Gates Fund, 1915; Robert Henri, The Beach Hat, 1914, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches, Collection of The Detroit Institute of Arts, City of Detroit Purchase; Edmund Tarbell, Josephine Knitting, 1916, oil on canvas, 26 1/4 x 20 1.4 inches, Collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Bequest of George M. Oyster, Jr.; Donna Schuster, Woman Sewing, 1909, oil on canvas, 26 1/4 x 30 1/4 inches, Collection of John and Brenda Watkins
"Circles of Influence" thematically explores Southern California's early twentieth-century artistic development--from the expanding influences of East Coast artists, to the building of local art organizations striving for independent expression, and finally the early stirrings of avant-garde Modernism. Presenting over seventy paintings, drawn from public and private collections, the exhibition will focus attention on the progressive artists of Los Angeles and their response to national and international art movements.
Continuing through September 3, 2000, this major exhibition includes work by renowned and Lesser-known California painters including Mabel Alvarez, Guy Rose, Donna Norine Schuster, Clarence Kaiser Hinkle, Henrietta Shore, and Stanton Macdonald-Wright, as well as paintings by the era's most prominent East Coast artist/teachers such as William Merritt Chase, Edmund C. Tarbell, and Robert Henri.
Left to right: Mabel Alvarez, Portrait of Mrs. McGee Bernhart, c. 1918, oil on canvas, 25 x 30 inches, Collection of Mrs. Joseph Moure, Pasadena, California; William Merritt Chase, Self-Portrait, c. 1914, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches, Collection of The Detroit Institute of Arts, Gift of the artist; Guy Rose, Marguerite, c. 1918, oil on canvas, 15 x 17 inches, Collection of The Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, Santa Ana, California, Martha C. Stevens Memorial Art Collection; Herbert Chester Cressey, Contentment, c. 1918, oil on canvas, 36 x 40 inches, Courtesy of Michael Johnson Fine Arts, Fallbrook, California
In the 1910s a number of East Coast painters had a decisive influence on California art whether through professional sojourns in the Sunshine State, major exhibitions of their paintings, or by teaching a new generation of California artists. While Robert Henri spent the summer of 1914 painting in La Jolla, William Merritt Chase taught a summer art class in Carmel. With international expositions held in both San Francisco and San Diego, in 1915 and 1916, to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal, spectacular exhibitions of the foremost American and international painters were seen by California artists, critics, and the public.
Following in the footsteps of such infamous, artist-organized, jury-free exhibitions as "The Eight" and the "Armory Show," progressive California painters sought additional exhibition opportunities beyond the established, juried shows of the California Art Club . The Los Angeles Modern Art Society was founded in 1916 by local artists seeking to foster new forms of artistic expression. Although this short-lived society mounted only two exhibitions, new art organizations such as the California Progressive Group and the Group of Eight were soon formed by independent-minded artists. By exploring their individuality, through boldly expressive paintings and participation in independent exhibitions, these artists indicated their engagement with art issues of larger national concern.
When Stanton Macdonald-Wright returned to California from Paris via New York in 1919, he brought with him knowledge of the most vanguard Modernist styles. Earlier in his career, Macdonald-Wright, in collaboration with Morgan Russell, created Synchromism, a modern art movement indebted to the spatial structure of Cubism and Futurism, and the color of Fauvism. While Macdonald-Wright quickly became an influential teacher at the Los Angeles Art Students League, his significance for the art community was far greater because of his organizational efforts on behalf of modern art. After spearheading Los Angeles's first exhibition of American Modernists in 1920, he established the Group of Independent Artists in 1923 and the Modern Art Workers in 1925. One important participant in the Modern Art Workers exhibition was Swiss emigré artist Conrad Buff. A true independent and an iconoclast, Buff painted boldly geometric, simplified compositions such as his Decorative Figure, 1923. With this small group of artists who promoted Modernism, a beachhead was established in the region preparing the way for true acceptance of the radically avant-garde in the post-World War II era. (upper left: Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Untitled (Vase of Flowers), c. 1924-25, oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches, Collection of Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California, LAM/OCMA Art Collection Trust, Museum purchase with funds provided through prior gift of Lois Outerbridge; right: Conrad Buff, Decorative Figure, 1923, oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 32 1/4 inches, The Buck Collection, Laguna Hills, California)
Organized by OCMA assistant curator Sarah Vure, "Circles of Influence: Impressionism to Modernism in Southern California Art" and its accompanying catalogue contributes to the growing body of scholarship on California art. The full color book includes contributions by Vure; Kevin Starr, state librarian of California; and Nancy Moure, prominent scholar on California art.
The exhibition was organized by the Orange County Museum of Art and is made possible by the generous support of Fluor Foundation; Mrs. Richard Steele; Visionaries; Pam and James Muzzy; Max and Patricia Ellis; Jeanne and Dave Tappan; Bente and Gerald Buck, The Buck Collection; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP; Historical Collections Council; Michael Johnson Fine Arts; Bill and Pat Podlich; Tutto Mare Ristorante; Valaree and Robert Wahler; Donald and Nancy Zinsmeyer Wynne; the Friends of the Exhibition; and Delta Air Lines.
Resource Library features these essays concerning Southern California art:
The American Scene: Regionalist Painters of California 1930-1960: Selections from the Michael Johnson Collection by Susan M. Anderson
Dream and Perspective: American Scene Painting in Southern California by Susan M. Anderson
Modern Spirit: The Group of Eight & Los Angeles Art of the 1920s by Susan M. Anderson
A Seed of Modernism: The Art Students League of Los Angeles, 1906-53 by Julia Armstrong-Totten, Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, and Will South
The Arts in Santa Barbara by Janet Blake Dominik
Ranchos: The Oak Group Paints the Santa Barbara Countryside by Ellen Easton
Speculative Terrain - Recent Views of the Southern California Landscape from San Diego to Santa Barbara by Gordon L. Fuglie
Sampler Tour of Art Tiles from Catalina Island by John Hazeltine
Mission San Juan Capistrano: An Artistic Legacy by Gerald J. Miller
Loners, Mavericks & Dreamers: Art in Los Angeles Before 1900 by Nancy Moure
Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and the Eucalyptus School in Southern California by Nancy Moure
San Diego Beginnings by Martin E. Petersen
Keeping the Faith: Painting in Santa Catalina 1935-1985 by Roy C. Rose
The Art Student League of Los Angeles: A Brief History by Will South
Artists in Santa Catalina Island Before 1945 by Jean Stern
The Development of Southern California Impressionism by Jean Stern
The Legacy of the Art Students League: Defining This Unique Art Center in Pre-War Los Angeles by Julia Armstrong-Totten
The Development of an Art Community in the Los Angeles Area by Ruth Westphal
A Bit of Paris in Heart Mountain by Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick
A Seed of Modernism: The Art Students League of Los Angeles, 1906-53 by Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick and Julia Armstrong-Totten
The Historic Landscapes of Malibu by Michael Zakian
and these articles:
California Impressionists at Laguna is a 2000 exhibit at the Florence Griswold Museum organized by Florence Griswold Museum curator Jack Becker, the exhibition consists of twenty-six paintings by over a dozen California artists and selected works by members of the Lyme Art Colony, providing opportunity to compare and contrast the styles and subjects of the Lyme and Laguna Impressionists. The exhibition examines how the colonies contributed to the very identity of their regions; in the case of Laguna as a new Eden of perpetual sunshine, and for Lyme as a place rooted in traditional New England values. (left: William Wendt (1865-1946), South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 1918, oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas B. Stiles II)
Circles of Influence: Impressionism to Modernism in Southern California Art 1910-1930 is a 2000 exhibit at the Orange County Museum of Art which thematically explores Southern California's early twentieth-century artistic development -- from the expanding influences of East Coast artists, to the building of local art organizations striving for independent expression, and finally the early stirrings of avant-garde Modernism. Presenting over seventy paintings, drawn from public and private collections, the exhibition will focus attention on the progressive artists of Los Angeles and their response to national and international art movements.
Clarence Hinkle: Modern Spirit and the Group of Eight is a 2012 exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum which features over one hundred paintings dating from the early 1900s through the 1950s, and includes many paintings that were in the original exhibitions of the Group of Eight, especially their 1927 show at the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art.
The Fieldstone Collection: Impressionism in Southern California, a 1999 exhibit at the the William D. Cannon Art Gallery, includes approximately 40 works, created between the late 1800s and early 1900s, depict the natural landscapes of the region in the "plein air" style of the French Impressionists.
The Final Eden: Early Images of the Santa Barbara Region is a 2002 Wildling Art Museum exhibit of paintings, watercolors and prints depicting the Central Coast of California between 1836 and 1960 and celebrating "its rural pristine and fertile nature," selected by guest curator, Frank Goss. It is his thesis that the paradise that once was California, a land of boundless resources and unlimited opportunities, has shrunk through urbanization and exploitation, and the Central Coast, not yet paved over, is "the Final Eden." (left: John Hall Esq. (1808 - ?), "Santa Barbara-Upper California," 1836, hand-colored lithograph.. Lent by Eric Hvolboi
First Generation: Art in Claremont, 1907-1957 is a 2008 exhibit at the Claremont Museum of Art, which traces the art history of Claremont and the region in the first 50 years after the city's incorporation in 1907.
On a clear day a century ago, one could see the peak of Mt. Baldy from virtually every corner of the Los Angeles basin, from ocean to desert. The original inhabitants of this area, the Tongva/Gabrielino Indians, called the mountain "Yoát," or snow. Its siren song has drawn generations of settlers to its shadow. Since the late 19th century, prominent artists have been among those attracted to the foothills of Mt. Baldy and its neighboring peaks-and the city of Claremont, in particular.The exhibit traces the art history of the region, from the work of such artists as Hannah Tempest Jenkins, Emil Kosa, Jr., and William Manker to that of Millard Sheets and his circle in the 1930s. Sheets's influence as artist and teacher extended as well to bringing artists such as Henry Lee McFee, Phil Dike, and Jean Ames to Scripps College, thereby enhancing the existing art community and assuring its lasting influence.
Greetings from Laguna Beach: Our Town in the Early 1900s is a 2000 Laguna Art Museum exhibit which illustrates Laguna's early history through 20 landscapes painted by some of the town's earliest artist residents as well as historical photos and a room-sized installation of a typical period cottage. The paintings include works by Franz A. Bischoff, Conway Griffith , Clarence Kaiser Hinkle, Joseph Kleitsch Millard Sheets, William Wendt, and Karl Yens.
L.A. RAW: Abject Expressionism in Los Angeles 1945-1980, From Rico Lebrun to Paul McCarthy is a 2012 exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. The figurative artists, who dominated the postwar Los Angeles art scene until the late 1950s, have largely been written out of today's art history. This exhibition, part of the Getty Foundations initiative "Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980," traces the distinctive aesthetic of figurative expressionism from the end of World War II, bringing together over 120 works by forty-one artists in a variety of media -- painting, sculpture, photography, and performance
The Legacy of the California Art Club in San Diego chronicles the history of art in San Diego, California from the turn of the 20th century through the beginning of the present century.
Painted Light: California Impressionist Paintings from the Gardena High School Los Angeles Unified School District Collection, hosted by CSU Dominguez Hills in 1999, features works by Franz A. Bischoff, Jessie Arms Botke (1883-1971), Maurice Braun (1877-1941), Benjamin Chambers Brown, Alson Skinner Clark, Leland S. Curtis, Maynard Dixon, Victor Clyde Forsythe, John (Jack) Frost, Joe Duncan Gleason, Armin Carl Hansen, Sam Hyde Harris, Clarence Kaiser Hinkle, Frank Tenney Johnson, Emil Jean Kosa, Jr., Jean Mannheim, Peter Nielsen, Edgar Alwin Payne, Hanson Duvall Puthuff, John Hubbard Rich, Carl Clemens Moritz Rungius, Walter Elmer Schofield, Clyde Eugene Scott, Jack Wilkinson Smith, James Guifford Swinnerton, Marion Kavanagh Wachtel, William Wendt (1865-1946) and Orrin Augustine White. Painted Light toured to
Painted Light: California Impressionist Paintings from the Gardena High School Los Angeles Unified School District Collection, hosted by CSU Dominguez Hills in 1999, features works by Franz A. Bischoff, Jessie Arms Botke (1883-1971), Maurice Braun (1877-1941), Benjamin Chambers Brown, Alson Skinner Clark, Leland S. Curtis, Maynard Dixon, Victor Clyde Forsythe, John (Jack) Frost, Joe Duncan Gleason, Armin Carl Hansen, Sam Hyde Harris, Clarence Kaiser Hinkle, Frank Tenney Johnson, Emil Jean Kosa, Jr., Jean Mannheim, Peter Nielsen, Edgar Alwin Payne, Hanson Duvall Puthuff, John Hubbard Rich, Carl Clemens Moritz Rungius, Walter Elmer Schofield, Clyde Eugene Scott, Jack Wilkinson Smith, James Guifford Swinnerton, Marion Kavanagh Wachtel, William Wendt (1865-1946) and Orrin Augustine White.
Painted Light: California Impressionist Paintings: The Gardena High School/Los Angeles Unified School District Collection toured to The Irvbine Museum in 1999.
Representing LA, Pictorial Currents in Contemporary Southern California Art, featured at the Frye Museum in 2000, is the first group exhibition to explore the rich and varied representational painting, drawing, printmaking, and sculpture produced by Southern California artists from 1990 to 2000, and fills a gap in West Coast and Southern California art history by surveying and interpreting about 80 works by 70 artists working in representational or realist styles and approaches.
Read more about the Orange County Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine.
Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.
For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 3/2/11
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