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Artists at Continent's End: The Monterey Peninsula Art Colony, 1875-1907
February 17 - May 21, 2006
(above: Mary Brady (1867-1940), Sand Dunes in Monterey, 1895. oil on canvas, 23 x 27 inches. Collection of Terry and Paula Trotter)
Artists at Continent's End: The Monterey Peninsula Art Colony, 1875-1907 includes some 70 paintings, photographs and works on paper drawn from museums and private collections throughout California and beyond. It features work by eight artists of major importance to California's, and America's, art history -- Jules Tavernier, William Keith, Charles Rollo Peters, Arthur Mathews, Evelyn McCormick, Francis McComas, Gottardo Piazzoni and photographer Arnold Genthe. The exhibition also includes the work of more than 25 other artists, both well- and little-known, who each contributed to the reputation of what is now widely recognized as one of America's most important art colonies. (right: Raymond Dabb Yelland (1848-1900), Sunset at Cypress Point, Monterey, not dated. oil on canvas, 18 x 30 inches. Collection of W. Donald Head, Old Grandview Ranch, Saratoga))
From the fourth quarter of the 19th century into the first years of the 20th, the Monterey Peninsula epitomized California art. The towns of Monterey, Pacific Grove and eventually Carmel, interconnected yet distinct, boasted populations of artists-kindred spirits who shared their lives, ideals and respective arts in a free spirit of association and collegiality. The influx began in earnest in 1875 with Frenchman Jules Tavernier, who showed California artists what could be done with the Monterey Peninsula's unique coastal scenery. The magnetism of the area's landscape was profound, and as word of its beauty filtered to the outside world, along with the notion that here could be discovered a backwater undisturbed by the rush of the passing current, it became a frequent destination for artists of all types.
To be sure, nearly every significant California artist visited the peninsula during this period -- most on several occasions -- as did scores of art students. Even in the 19th century, well before Carmel-by-the-Sea became an artists' community, artists visited frequently and in large numbers. "They stayed there all summer and found some of their most marvelous inspirations in the atmosphere of the old cypress tree," the San Francisco Call reported in 1896. "It was a veritable heaven for them in every way. A painter was not recognized in society who had never been to Monterey."
Artists of the Monterey Peninsula define the late 19th- and early 20th-century chapter of California's art history, and it was during this period that the Monterey Peninsula attained distinction as the new spiritual heart of California. Rich in history with the Mission San Carlos Borromeo headquarters of Father Junípero Serra, and strange and awesome in beauty, the area displaced Yosemite in the artistic imagination as California's holiest of natural cathedrals. According to the Overland Monthly in 1911, all good and loyal California artists considered it a "sacred duty" to make a pilgrimage to the so-called artistic "Mecca," where they worshipped at the "shrine of adobes, sand-dunes and cypress trees." (left: Arthur Mathews (1860-1945), Monterey Bay, not dated. oil on canvas, 26 1/4 x 30 inches. Collection of W. Donald Head, Old Grandview Ranch, Saratoga)
Artists of the Monterey Peninsula worked in three major styles: in the manner of the French Barbizons, Tonalism and Impressionism. Beginning with Jules Tavernier's arrival in 1875, art produced in and around Monterey signaled a break from the tightly rendered and highly detailed style of the Hudson River School, the then-dominant style in California. In the years between 1875 and 1907, artists in Monterey moved away from the strict description of nature to become increasingly subjective, meditative and harmoniously simple. By the turn of the century, the majority of artists in the region had arrived at a deeply personal, tonal style, featuring close-value colors and moody atmospheric effects. Some eventually went one step further, producing canvases reductive not only in color but also in form. Among others, the progression culminated in a colorful Impressionism.
Most accounts and histories of the Monterey Peninsula's artistic legacy cite the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire as the primary impetus for coastal settlement. These histories have also focused principally on Carmel and the literati who lived there, marginalizing the pivotal role that Monterey and its visual artists played from the last quarter of the 19th century on. By 1907, artists of Monterey, Pacific Grove and now Carmel-by-the-Sea, which, beginning in 1905 could claim an important place as an artists' community in its own right, had achieved a new level of professionalism and organization through the opening of the Hotel Del Monte gallery in Monterey. The hotel's gallery was the first-ever devoted solely to the work of California artists, especially local ones. The gallery's curator, Josephine Blanch, made the prophetic claim, "When the history of California art is written, Monterey Peninsula will furnish a colorful and important chapter and the Del Monte gallery will be recognized as a large factor in the development of art in the state." (right: Jules Tavernier (1844-1889), Artist's Rêverie, Dreams at Twilight, 1876. oil on canvas, 24 x 50 1/4 inches. Collection of Oscar and Trudy Lemer, long-term loan to the Capitol Art Program)
Organized by the Crocker, the exhibition is one of the largest that the Museum has ever assembled. After its debut in Sacramento, the exhibition will travel to the Laguna Art Museum (June 11 - October 1, 2006), the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (October 21, 2006 - January 21, 2007) and the Monterey Museum of Art (February 3 - April 29, 2007). The exhibition is accompanied by a 350-page color catalogue authored by Crocker Art Museum Chief Curator Scott A. Shields and published by The University of California Press. Beautifully illustrated with a wealth of images, including many never before published, it features 160 illustrations along with extensive biographical material on each artist. The catalogue will be available for purchase in the Crocker Art Museum Store. (left: cover of exhibition catalogue for Artists at Continent's End: The Monterey Peninsula Art Colony, 1875-1907)
This exhibition is partially funded by the Lenore and Roger Stokes Fund and the Kathryn Uhl Ball and Fred Uhl Ball Fund of the Crocker Art Museum Foundation.
Resource Library features these essays concerning Northern California art:
Jennie V. Cannon: The Untold History of the Carmel and Berkeley Art Colonies, vol. one, East Bay Heritage Project, Oakland, 2012
Landscape Painters of Northern California 1870-1930 by Harvey L. Jones
The Carmel Monterey Peninsula Art Colony: A History by Barbara J. Klein
The San Francisco Art Association by Betty Hoag McGlynn
The Santa Cruz Art League by Betty Hoag McGlynn
The Carmel Art Association by Betty Hoag McGlynn
Monterey: The Artist's View, 1925 - 1945 by Kent Seavey
The Society of Six by Terry St. John
Towards Impressionism in Northern California by Raymond L. Wilson
and these articles:
Artists at Continent's End: The Monterey Peninsula Art Colony, 1875-1907 is a 2006 exhibit organized by the Crocker Art Museum, including some 70 paintings, photographs and works on paper drawn from museums and private collections throughout California and beyond. It features work by eight artists of major importance to California's, and America's, art history -- Jules Tavernier, William Keith, Charles Rollo Peters, Arthur Mathews, Evelyn McCormick, Francis McComas, Gottardo Piazzoni and photographer Arnold Genthe. The exhibition also includes the work of more than 25 other artists, both well- and little-known, who each contributed to the reputation of what is now widely recognized as one of America's most important art colonies.
The Art Of Mount Shasta is a 2010 Turtle Bay Museum at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park exhibit for which William Miesse and Robyn G. Peterson, Ph.D, co-curators, say; "Most of the works in this exhibition, lent by museums, institutions, and private collections from around the country, stem from that San Francisco Art Boom. And these paintings are only the tip of the iceberg relative to the large number of Mount Shasta paintings in museums and private collections around the country. The current exhibition is representative of the extensive art history of the Mount Shasta region."
The Lighter Side of Bay Area Figuration is a 2000 Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art exhibit which contains 56 humorous, whimsical and satirical works of art by San Francisco Bay artists such as Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest, Richard Diebenkorn, and Viola Frey. Comic art in the Bay area began to flourish during the late 1950s in deliberate defiance of New York's avant-garde. San Francisco's distance from the center of commerce and criticism fostered a renegade mentality and a tendency toward personal forms of expression. Bucking mainstream trends by combining humor with lowbrow artistic media and techniques became a badge of honor for many Bay Area artists. The hub of humorous figurative art was the University of California in Davis, a sleepy and relatively remote campus town 70 miles north of San Francisco. Although their aesthetics differed, most of the Davis artists explored humorous narratives, whether in clay sculpture or representational painting. The UC-Davis art department included artists Arneson, De Forest, Thiebaud, Manuel Neri, and William Wiley. There, Thiebaud painted his whimsical still lifes of ordinary objects from gumball machines and yo-yos to pies and cakes, like the exhibition's painting Cakes and Pies, 1994-95. Roy De Forest painted his canvases filled with wild-eyed, pointy eared dogs, and printmaker William Wiley produced his quirky alter ego, "Mr. Unatural." (right: Joan Brown, Portrait of Bob for Bingo, 1960, oil paint oncanvas, 29 x 28 inches, Collection of Joyce and Jay Cooper, AZ, Photo, Jay Cooper)
The Lighter Side of Bay Area Figuration is a 2000 exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Art, a compelling exhibition of approximately 70 works that deftly examines the historical, social, cultural, and aesthetic development of humorous Bay Area art. The exhibition -- the first to identify and examine this genre -- highlights the work of artists associated with the University of California at Davis, such as Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest, and Wayne Thiebaud, and with artists associated with the East Bay, such as Robert Colescott, Joan Brown, M. Louise Stanley, and James Albertson.
Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900-2000 / Section 1: 1900 - 1920 / Section 2: 1920 - 1940 / Section 3: 1940 - 1960 / Section 4: 1960 - 1980 / Section 5: 1980 - 2000 is a 2000 multi-part exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibition goes beyond a standard presentation of California art to offer a revisionist view of the state and its cultural legacy. It considers both "booster" images of California and other coexisting and at times competing images, reflecting the wide range of interests and experiences of the state's diverse constituencies. The exhibit approaches the past 100 years thematically, presenting works that engage in a meaningful way with the California image. As opposed to a survey exhibition, Made in California moves beyond the established canon of artists and art works to include lesser-known works by celebrated figures as well as a wider range of artists, more in keeping with the diversity of California's population. It is the shared conviction of the exhibition organizers that this approach, intended to initiate a broader dialogue on California art rather than establish a new canon.
Made in Monterey a 2009 exhibition at the Monterey Museum of Art, is a sweeping exhibition of the most beloved and important works from the permanent collection created by artists in Monterey or by those inspired by the region. Beginning with the pioneering artists who sojourned on the Central Coast in the late 19th century (including Jules Tavernier and Raymond Dabb Yelland), the exhibition features significant works of Monterey modernists such as Armin Hansen and Margaret Bruton as well as photography visionaries Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. Two renowned works by Armin Hansen, Nino and Men of the Sea, have been conserved and make their stunning debut in this new presentation.
Majestic California: Prominent Artists of the Early 1900's is a 2007 exhibition at The Irvine Museum. At one time, California was considered a distant Eden, isolated within its own beauty. From snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the desolate splendor of the Mojave Desert; from flower-covered hills to countless secluded valleys and meadows; from the dazzling beaches of the south to the rocky coves of the north, it was a world of its own. The enthralling beauty of California is the principal reason that, starting in the middle of the 19th century, artists began to take the long, hazardous journey to paint its unique splendor. By the early 1900's, California had its own group of prominent artists who proclaimed that beauty throughout the country.
Moods of California, a 2007 exhibition at The Irvine Museum, portrays California as experienced by three differing yet equally passionate artistic points of view. Percy Gray (1869-1952), a superb watercolorist who was fascinated by the soft, gentle light and haze of northern California; Paul Grimm (1887-1974), a landscape painter who in his later years moved to Palm Springs and became famous for paintings of the desert; and Emil Kosa, Jr. (1903-1968) who became one of Hollywood's best known scenic painters and set designers, while distinguishing himself as a bold painter of urban Los Angeles as well as light-filled views of the countryside.
The Not-So-Still Life: A Century of California Painting and Sculpture, held in 2003 at the San Jose Museum of Art, includes more than 100 works of art by such artists as Guy Rose, Franz Bischoff, Armin Hansen, Lorser Feitelson, Stanton McDonald-Wright, Hans Burkhardt, Helen Lundeberg, Paul Wonner, Wayne Thiebaud, Mildred Howard, Edward Ruscha, Ed Kienholz, George Herms, Richard Shaw, Peter Shelton, Alan Rath, and Robert Therrien. Divided into three sections: 1900-1930, 1920-1950 and 1950- 2000, the exhibition traces the intriguing evolution of still life in California over the last century. It is a revisionist examination of the genre. According to the curators, what was once the most conservative form of artistic practice has been transformed into one of the more radical forms of expression. Contemporary still life is no longer "still" -- it has not only moved off the table, but off the wall and into three dimensions. The exhibition examines a great variety of styles and media, from Impressionist paintings of apples and oranges to witty ceramic sculpture, funky assemblage art, and electronic media.
Old California is a 2000 exhibition at the California Art Club Gallery featuring original paintings and sculptures inspired by the romance and hardships that built a land named after the 16th century Spanish fable describing the treasure island, "California." The exhibition features prominent genre and figure artists of the California Art Club: Kalan Brunink, William George, Dan Goozeé, Joseph Mendez, Joel Phillips, Vic Riesau, and early CAC artist, Theodore Lukits (1897-1992).
Also see: Pacific Coast Painting: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington: 19th-21st Century
Readers may also enjoy:
Historic Art Colonies
American Art History: A Geographic Tour
For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Crocker Art Museum in Resource Library.
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