By Rob Pierce, Associate Director, William A. Karges Fine Art, Santa Monica
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the climactic landscape of the Monterey Peninsula has attracted artists from around the world, eager to try their hand at capturing the spirit of the dramatic shoreline. Over the ensuing century, hundreds of artists produced thousands of works, each a unique interpretation of the region’s natural beauty.
After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the region was inundated with musicians, writers, painters and other artists who established an artist colony after the bay city was destroyed. The new residents were offered home lots – ten dollars down, little or no interest, and whatever they could pay on a monthly basis. Among the visual artists to participate in the burgeoning arts community were Armin Hansen, Mary DeNeale Morgan, Carl Oscar Borg, Roi Clarkson Colman, William Louis Otte, Rinaldo Cuneo, William Henry Price.
San Francisco native Armin Hansen is generally considered the most significant artist to work in the Monterey Peninsula during the early-and mid-20th century. Stormy Sea (pictured below) depicts a ship struggling through stormy seas. This painting is an excellent example of Hansen’s powerful oceanographic scenes, for which he is best known.
Armin Hansen (1886 - 1957)
Carmel artist Mary DeNeale Morgan was born in San Francisco in 1868, where she became a favorite pupil of William Keith. Morgan attended summer classes in Carmel that were led by William Merritt Chase and later became the Director of the Carmel School of Art from 1917-1925. Equally facile in watercolor, gouache and oil painting, Morgan’s works often feature the windblown trees and rocky coastline of the Monterey Peninsula.
Welcome to the William A. Karges Fine Art Blog
Welcome to the William A. Karges Fine Art Blog, where you'll be able to find information about Early California Paintings, including Museum Exhibitions, Current News, Events, and our gallery's new acquisitions of original paintings created between 1870 and 1940 by a wide variety of Early California Artists. We'll feature biographies, photographs, links to websites of interest to collectors, video tours, and detailed histories of some of California's most influential and intriguing artists.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
An outstanding group of paintings is currently on display through August 29th, 2016 at the Monterey Museum of Art, Pacific Street. “Monterey Places” presents works from the permanent collection that focus on the beauty and history of Monterey County. The exhibit features early California paintings by influential artists including M. Evelyn McCormick, Charles Rollo Peters, and Armin Hansen, as well as contemporary works by Johnny Apodaca and Andrea Johnson.
Click here to learn more about the exhibit and view some of the works online.
The exhibit also includes a web-based interactive virtual gallery where visitors can “explore and engage with the paintings, and learn more about the specific locations, local histories, and the artists who created them”.
Click here to see the interactive gallery now and discover the paintings and places featured in this fascinating exhibit.
This is a great opportunity to get personally involved with the artworks on display and to discover, learn, and interact! Visitors to the various current exhibitions are encouraged to write down and share their reactions and thoughts about works on display. There are short films to watch, large-screen slide show presentations, tours given by their enthusiastic, energetic, and well-educated docents, lectures, and even stations set up where you can create your own artworks. It's nice to be reminded that visiting a museum is supposed to be fun, entertaining, inspiring, educational, and exciting! Charlotte Eyerman, hired as the Director in 2013, has been doing a spectacular job of moving the museum boldly forward into the 21st century, and the staff has been extremely successful at engaging, entertaining, and educating visitors using a combination of technology, creative ideas, and social media.
The Monterey Museum of art is located at 559 Pacific Street, Monterey, CA (831) 372-5477. For additional information and hours, visit their website www.montereyart.org
Friday, March 25, 2016
FOUR REASONS WHY HISTORIC ART REMAINS IMPORTANT TO THE CALIFORNIA MARKET
By William A. Karges Fine Art Editorial Staff
What is it that has always attracted people to Early California painting? Works created during the period between 1870 and 1940 by artists such as Granville Redmond, Guy Rose, and William Ritschel continue to remain popular among people of all ages. With the current frenzy surrounding modern and contemporary art, why are collectors, museums and gallery visitors still so fascinated by this more traditional style of painting?
Certainly there is ample room for all types, mediums, subjects, and talents in the art world. The nature of art is to encourage experimentation, and to open viewer's minds to new ways of thinking and experiencing the world. Art is a medium that, at its best, evokes an emotion, but it has many purposes, including breeding thoughts and ideas, and connecting us to each other through the simple fact that the works were created for humans by other humans.
However, as corporate marketing agencies spend huge sums to convince visitors of flashy art fairs, surfeit with celebrities, that it's perfectly normal for a canvas painted blue with a white line to sell for $43.8 million dollars, one begins to suspect that the contemporary art world is more about a “scene” than about the art itself.
Yet the private market for historic California art remains strong without all the fanfare and high-priced marketing of its modern, postmodern, and abstract brethren. The reason is that collectors of these prior genres tend to be more self-educating – that is, historic collectors appreciate the visual aesthetic qualities of the work, but also foster connoisseurship by seeking the historical significance of the objects themselves. The market is driven less by external trends and more by a conscious intellectual endeavor to understand the contextual whole.
2) It preserves our history
For over one hundred years, the California Art Club has existed for the exclusive purpose of fostering and preserving the rich tradition of fine art in California. One of the oldest, largest, and most active art organizations in the country, it continues to attract an increasing number of new members, and any study of the history of the art of the region will contain by necessity the history of the CAC and its members, such as William Wendt (1865–1946), Edgar Payne (1883–1947), Franz Bischoff (1864–1929)
|Edgar Payne (1883 - 1947)|
Oil on Canvas, 40 x 50 inches
Other groups, such as the Traditional Fine Arts Organization, continue to grow in popularity and membership. The TFAO, a non-profit group “dedicated to furthering education in American Representational art through advocacy, publication, and research,” similarly works to preserve the history of the arts.
The CrockerArt Museum in Sacramento, established in 1885 and home to a vast and important collection of early California paintings, recently tripled its size and has become one of the leading art museums in California, and the recently opened Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University, displaying a significant collection of 20th century representational art, is drawing large, enthusiastic crowds.
The history of art in California is quite literally the history of the people, places, and events that have shaped the world we live in. Without organizations and patrons dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of this artistic legacy, our own history would be lost to the fog of time.
|Jack Wilkinson Smith (1873 - 1949)|
"Autumn Morning - Foothills of the Sierras"
Oil on canvas, 25 x 30 inches
3) Historical art preserves our environment
In order to understand the reasons for this enduring love of paintings created in the “Golden State”, a good place to look is the California landscape itself.
California landscape paintings, plein air works in particular, call attention to the exceptional and unparalleled beauty of the hills, mountains, deserts, and farmlands of California which, in turn, remind us of the fragile nature of our unique habitat. As with John Muir, we are inspired to become better custodians of these precious lands, and to protect and nurture the environment.
Early paintings of Yosemite, by artists such as Gilbert Munger and Thomas Hill, served to draw attention to that area, and helped to spark a new era of conservation and environmental protection for its unique and exceptional beauty. Artists and writers were extremely important in influencing Nineteenth Century trends in American conservation.
One of the great museums in the state is the Irvine Museum, which is dedicated to the preservation and display of California art of the Impressionist Period (1890-1930). In her welcoming statement for the Irvine Museum, the institution's founder, real estate heiress Joan Irvine Smith, notes that “Much of what originally made California a 'Golden Land' was directly linked to the environment, especially the land and water that nurtured and sustained a rare quality of life. Over a hundred years ago, the splendor of nature fascinated artists and compelled them to paint beautiful paintings. As we view these rare and remarkable paintings, we are returned, all too briefly, to a time long ago when the land and its bounty were open and almost limitless.”
|William Wendt (1865 - 1946)|
"Mountain Infinity (Summer Thaw)"
Oil on canvas, 40 x 50 inches
4) The market is strong
In spite of – and at least partially because of – a recent surge in turnover of contemporary art, current auction records for important paintings from the Early California period are remarkably strong. Today's overheated market for contemporary work with little or no proven track record is providing astute collectors with a perfect opportunity to acquire certain early California paintings on the private market at somewhat more modest prices than those seen a decade or two ago, just as Joan Irvine was able to acquire historic paintings for the museum by circumventing the contemporary art bubble of her own time.
Simultaneously, important major works by the most popular artists in the genre are commanding stronger prices than ever, proving again that the market for the most desirable first-rate works still remains bullish. A painting by William Wendt (1865-1946) “The Old Coast Road”, circa 1916, was sold in April 2015 for $1,565,000, setting a new public record for the artist. The Director of Fine Arts at Bonhams in Los Angeles, Scot Levitt, commented of the sale, "This was the most exciting sale that I have had the distinction to auction in my 30 years working with the company". Shrewd collectors know that significant paintings from this genre continue to enjoy an enduring position in the history of art, and can comfortably count on the fact that their importance and relevance over time has been repeatedly proven.
While all of this may be somewhat of a simplification, it’s clear that the appeal of historical California art is multi-faceted and often rooted in deeply-felt emotions and fundamental human nature. The pieces from this halcyon era inspire us to care more about, and protect, our fragile environment.
They can make us feel peaceful, centered and quiet, and can function as a counterpoint to the fast pace of today's world that's crowded with glowing screens, overflowing email inboxes, and ringing cell phones.
Mary DeNeale Morgan (1868 - 1948)
"Cypress Trees, Carmel"
Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches
They can bring us joy, pleasure, and memories of happy times spent with people we've loved. And, most importantly, the paintings from this special era in California history make us feel connected to the past, connected to the land and the environment around us, connected to the artists through time, and to each other.
|Elmer Wachtel (1864 - 1929)|
"Mission San Luis de Francia"
Watercolor, 11 x 17 1/2 inches
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Alson Clark - Early California Impressionist
by Biko Knox
William A. Karges Fine Art
Alson S. Clark (March 25, 1876 to March 23, 1949) was among America’s most prominent Impressionist painters. Born to an affluent family, Clark was able to develop his artistic talent at a young age by taking night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, and through exposure to European art and painting during a two-year trip to see the world with his family in his teenage years. After graduating from high school, he left Chicago to study under William Merritt Chase at the Art Students League in New York and the Chase Summer School of painting in Shinnecock. He then studied under James Abbott McNeill Whistler at the Academie Carmen in Paris, instruction that Clark acknowledged as a life long influence.
Oil on canvas, 18 x 22 inches
Returning to New York briefly in 1901, Clark met his wif Atta Medora McMullin when she modeled for his work. He spent much of his early career in Paris, taking residence in the city from 1902 until 1914. The Clarks were able to travel extensively throughout life, supported by sales through galleries such as William Macbeth in New York and William O’Brien in Chicago. The Clarks visited much of Europe and spent a year living in Giverny in 1910, where there was an active artist community surrounding Monet. Clark’s work in Europe often focused on architecture, depicting beautiful European Chateaus and historical buildings from the Middle Ages. He also served as an aerial photographer after the outbreak of World War I.
"The Golden Hour"
Oil on board, 25 1/2 x 31 1/4
Visiting the Canal Zone in 1913 to see the construction of the Panama Canal, Clark spent months painting its final construction phase. His work earned him a solo exhibition of 18 paintings at the Panama-PacificInternational Exposition in San Francisco, putting him in the ranks of such distinguished artists as Frank Duveneck, James Whistler, William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam, and John Singer Sargent as the only participating Americans.
"Culebra Cut, Panama Canal, 1914"
Oil on canvas, 26 x 32
In 1919, the Clarks moved back to the states and settled in Pasadena, California. While Clark was primarily a landscape painter, he also worked on a number of mural projects in California, including the now-demolished Carthay Circle Theater in Los Angeles, the California Club, bank buildings, and private homes. His works—painted in plein air—often demonstrated a technically refined impressionism focusing on landscapes with figurative elements and historical architecture.
Oil on canvas, 18 1/2 x 22
In an exhibition at Detroit Museum of Art featuring architectural studies such as “The Pope’s Antechamber at Fountainbleau,” and “Façade of the Chateau of Blois,” one critic noted:
His colors are harmonious and one is charmed with the pictorial qualities of the scenes before him. The artist has not been so jealous of his art as to distract you with it, but has rather concealed it.
Clark and his wife spent the rest of their lives in California, although they continued to travel frequently throughout the Southwest and Mexico, where some of the artist’s favorite subjects included Mission San Gabriel and Mission San Juan Capistrano.
"San Juan Capistrano"
Oil on canvas, 26 x 32
He befriended artist Guy Rose, joining him as a teacher at the Stickney Memorial School of Art and taking over as Director when Rose died of a stroke. Maintaining connections to the art world in New York and Chicago, the artist continued to enjoy success until his death in 1949, becoming one of the most highly-regarded California Impressionists and receiving solo exhibitions at spaces such the Stendahl Gallery.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
William S. Schwartz
by Biko Knox
William A. Karges Fine Art
by Biko Knox
William A. Karges Fine Art
William S. Schwartz (February 23, 1896 – February 10, 1977) was born to a poor family in Smorgon, Russia, where he attended art school on scholarship in adolescence before immigrating to the United States at the age of 17. There Schwartz, who had “chosen his life’s work early on,” managed to support himself as an opera, vaudeville, radio and concert singer and painting houses in order to pursue his ultimate dream as a painter.
After moving to New York to live with his sister and then Omaha to study with J. Laurie Wallace at the Kellom School, Schwartz ultimately ended up in Chicago, where he studied under Ivan Trutnev and Karl A. Buehr at the Art Institute of Chicago. He graduated with honors in life drawing, portraiture, and painting before his career took off in 1926 when he had his first solo exhibition of three at the Institute in 1926.
Oil on canvas, 14 x 11 inches
He was well known as a distinctive character who sported a handlebar mustache with long hair and a thick accent and was known to frequent Riccardo’s Restaurant and Gallery with other well-known artists such as Ivan Albright, Malvin Albright, andAaron Bohrod. In 1921, Schwartz met and eventually married Mona Turner—then a married woman and mother of two—who he adored and benefited from greatly as she became both his muse and “least lenient critic.” Together they toured the US by car to visit friends as Schwartz painted the country en plein air.
Throughout the Great Depression he supported himself by painting murals in a regionalist style at numerous post offices for the Federal Art Project. He incited minor controversy with his nude lithographs, and his subject matter moved freely between genres to suit his vision. “I have painted in faith and in freedom,” wrote the artist, “faith that somehow what I have done will reflect the best that is in me—freedom to choose my own themes in my own way.” Ultimately Schwartz was most known for and worked most prolifically in symbolist and abstract styles, but he characterized the American scene as, “more colorful and challenging than I or any artist might hope to record in a hundred lifetimes.”
Identifying himself as a “romantic modernist,” he was heavily influenced by surrealism and incorporated influences from cubism and constructivism into his abstract works.
"Figures in a Rocky Landscape"
Oil on board, 10 x 12 inches
In the 1920’s he began his series Symphonic Forms, regarded by many as the height of his oeuvre. Marrying his two passions, art and music, the paintings from the series feature surreal biomorphic forms and bright colors recalling the fauvists. Punctuated by jagged cubistic shapes and tonalistic hues, his symphonic scenes evoke the timbre, notes, and compositional scale of the vibrating and evolving musical works they were inspired by, such as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 23. Recalling Kandinsky’s lyrical mysticism, Schwartz’s work seems to capture the spirit of music in its variegated form.
Writing for the Chicago Tribune in 1970, Schwartz put his work into his own words:
My subjects are the beauty and wonder, the laughter and poetry, the pity and terror of the present world, which is the only universe I know. My drawing, composition, color, and techniques are based on the best education I could come by and extended to the limits of my own creative invention and capacities. I do not imitate. Therefore I, and I alone, am responsible for the vision of the world I set before the viewer.”
Swimming between different styles and influences and inspired by the American landscape and subject matter, Schwartz’s surreal visual opuses stand out as stunning reminders of his work as a uniquely abstract modernist.
Schwartz, William S. “An Artist’s Love Affair with America.” The Chicago Tribune. April 5, 1970, Pages 64-65.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Early Northwest Modernist Z. Vanessa Helder
William A. Karges Fine Art
|Z. Vanessa Helder "Palouse Barnyard" 15 x 22 inches|
Born to an artistic and somewhat eccentric family whose interests included music, theosophy, and astrology, Z. Vanessa Helder was an unconventional figure often found strolling Seattle’s streets dressed in her finest with her pet skunk in tow. Her mother was passionate about art and gave Helder her first painting lessons at a young age, eventually leading the prolific young artist to study art at the University of Washington. She kept an unorthodox school of pets throughout her life (at one time she made several inquiries with various state agencies only to find out it was illegal to own a flying squirrel) and an active social life amongst artists, architects, and bon vivants. Undertaking considerable work both teaching and supporting professional artists through the art associations that sustained Seattle and California’s vibrant art scenes before galleries and museums, Helder’s art and social life were intertwined.
|Z. Vanessa Helder "Brattleboro Street"|
In 1934 Helder moved East with a scholarship to the Art Students League of New York where her artistic style picked up precisionist influences under a number of artists including Robert Brackman, George Picken, and Frank Vincent. There she also joined the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors as well as winning membership in the American Watercolor Society in 1943. Attracting the attention of prominent gallerists of the time such as Maynard Walker and especially Macbeth Gallery, Helder’s characteristic style and Northwestern subject matter brought her attention in exhibits at the Whitney and aforementioned MOMA while simultaneously raising interest in her friends and fellow artists such as Robert O. Engard and Blanche Morgan back home.
|Z. Vanessa Helder "Cows and Barn"|
Moving back to Washington, Helder became a member of the Women Painters of Washington (WPW), was employed by the local branch of the federal Works ProgressAdministration (WPA) art programs creating murals, lithographs, and paintings, and spent two years teaching at the Spokane Art Center. It was around this period that Helder created one of her most well known works, a series of watercolors for the Bureau of LandReclamation depicting the Coulee Dam during its construction, exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum in 1939.
Developing a distinct precisionist style that defied watercolor’s usual billowy brushstrokes, Helder’s tight yet airy compositions were rendered in an elegant, tempera-like finish. Her subject-matter focused mostly on winterscapes, portraits contrasting collections of natural and manufactured objects, and angular architectural structures framed by rural scenes.
|Z. Vanessa Helder "Sea Shells - Blue and Gold"|
Watercolor, 15 x 19
She enjoyed the influence of Washington artist Elizabeth Colborne, whose watercolor and woodblock prints left an impression of simple composition; her contemporaries and teachers on the East Coast, whose early modern precisionism trained her eye to industrial subjects; her husband John “Jack” Patterson, whose work as an architect gave her a special perspective; and a love of Chinese painting. Assimilating her interests into her natural talent, Helder fluidly expressed her subjects in a striking, technical style that retained a sense of atmospheric lightness on canvas.
In 1943 she followed her husband to Los Angeles as he pursued professional opportunities. There she found success, joining the board of the California Watercolor Society while continuing to exhibit old and new works in California, Washington, and New York. In addition, she maintained active involvement in the Los Angeles art associations that were the primary exhibitors of California artists at the time. However, as more abstract styles began to take precedence in painting, the watercolor master’s work fell out of favor and she exhibited less regularly before her death on May 1, 1968. Helder’s works were then donated to the Westside Jewish Community Center where they were slowly sold off over the years, leaving hundreds of works unaccounted for to this day.
|Z. Vanessa Helder "Near San Jacincto" 15 x 20|
Z. Vanessa Helder has been exhibited at museum’s including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, and the Seattle Art Museum and is included in collections at the National Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Newark Museum, the High Museum of Art, the Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Academy Of Arts And Letters, Washington State University, I.B.M. Corporation, the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture and the Whatcom Museum of History & Art.