Published: May 22, 2012
The Pasadena Museum of California Art will present “Edgar Payne: The Scenic Journey,” a retrospective of artist Edgar Payne (1883‱947), noted among California’s early plein air painters. The exhibit will be on view June 3⁏ctober 14.
Payne’s work exemplifies the power and dynamism that separate California Impressionism from the picturesque French Impressionism of the Eighteenth Century. One of the first exhibitions of his work in over 40 years, the retrospective features nearly 100 paintings and drawings, as well as photographs and objects from the artist’s studio.
Born in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, Payne began his art career by painting signs, stage sets and murals. He considered himself completely self-taught †his training lasted only two weeks at the Art Institute of Chicago †and believed that nature was his best teacher. He ultimately settled in California and from there traveled widely. He exhibited at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, was commissioned by the Santa Fe Railroad to create paintings of the Southwest, won an honorable mention at the Paris Salon, and was a founding member of the Laguna Beach Art Association.
Payne used the animated brushwork, vibrant palette and shimmering light characteristic of Impressionism, but his employment of powerful imagery was rare among artists of his generation. While his contemporaries favored a quieter, more idyllic representation of the natural landscape, Payne was devoted to its raw, rugged beauty. His majestic and vital landscapes are informed by his reverence for the natural world.
This exhibition traces Payne’s artistic development as he traveled the world in search of this grandeur: the Southern and Central California coast, the Sierra, the Swiss Alps, the harbors and waterways of France and Italy, and the desert Southwest.
“In the course of his painting expeditions, Payne was determined to rediscover a broad and epic landscape that captured and conveyed the ‘unspeakably sublime,'” said Scott A. Shields, PhD, the exhibition’s curator and associate director and chief curator at the Crocker Art Museum. “In each locale, he sought vitality, bigness, nobility and grandeur, which he turned into unified, carefully calculated compositions with brushwork that seemed to pulsate with life.”
This exhibition was organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art and curated by Shields.
A 272-page, full-color catalog published by Pomegranate Communications accompanies the exhibition. Organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art, the exhibit debuted at the Crocker Art Museum and will be on view at the Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Okla., from December 1,
The museum is at 490 East Union Street. For information, www.pmcaonline.org or 626-568-3665.
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