Art of the American Spirit: A Practical Introduction to American and California Painting
CALIFORNIA AND REGIONAL PAINTING
One exciting thing, for those of us who study American
art, is exploring the rich variety of regional painting that has developed in
different areas of the country.
My own particular interest is California painting. Being
in Los Angeles, I've been able to take a closer look at the many great painters
who have lived and worked in California, and at Butterfields we have developed
an expertise in what is now a fast-growing investment market. While most of what
we now call California painting dates from about 1850 to 1950, it's not unusual
to find paintings in some of my auctions that were done by living artists just
six months ago.
California has long been a magnet for artists, drawn both
by the state's awesome physical landscape and its balmy weather. Generally Impressionist
in style, California painting really began to thrive in the early part of the
20th Century with the growth of tourism. Well-heeled visitors from New York and
Chicago were eager to take a little bit of California back home with them, and
California art thus found its way into collections across the country.
Landscape painters such as Thomas Hill became famous for
views of Yosemite National Park, while Granville Redmond specialized in
Impressionist scenes of fields full of poppies and lupines. In southern
California, artists such as Armin Hansen and Maynard Dixon captured the unique
beauty of the region's sparkling landscapes, painting frequently in the "plein
air" tradition, where the artist completes the work outdoors, free of the
confines of the studio.
But if California art does not appeal to you, there are
still plenty of other areas of American art to explore. Black American artists,
for example, are clearly a major force. Early black painters range from Robert
Scott Duncanson, who was part of the Hudson River
school, to Grafton Tyler Brown, who specialized in views of western towns.
In the 20th Century, black artists were an integral part of the Harlem
Renaissance from about 1916-1940, helping to sow the seeds of the Civil
Rights movement and celebrating the unique blend of jazz culture, black
tradition, and high living that came to symbolize Harlem at the time.
Scot Levitt, Director of American and California