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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Sample’

John Steuart Curry-- "Tragic Prelude" Mural depicting John Brown in Kansas

John Steuart Curry– “Tragic Prelude” Mural depicting John Brown in Kansas

One of my favorite genres of art is that of  American Regionalism.  You can lump painters like Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton  and  John Steuart Curry together as some of the  better known names in this group.  I am not particularly fond of the use of the word regionalist which seems to hint at some sort of narrow provincialism, a label that Eastern critics tried to pin on this Midwest-based movement of the 1930’s and 40’s.  But these painters and others who have been branded as Regionalists were not sentimental or naive.

In fact they espoused views that were often more aligned with progressive and socialist ideals.  Many of these artists were looking to make their work more accessible to the working class, something that they felt was lacking in the more elitist Modernist work of the time and simply used the landscape and people around them as the vehicle to convey these ideals.  This gave the work an inclusive populist quality that is especially appealing to me.  I like that their work is often simple to approach yet reveals so much more upon deeper inspection.

I have written about some of the more well known Regionalists such as Wood and Benton, as well as some of the lesser known names such as Alexander Hogue and Paul Sample but hope to shed some light in future posts on some of the more obscure names in this genre.

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Drought Stricken Area 1934I wrote several weeks back about coming across artists whose work is so striking but whose names never become well known, at least on a national or international level.  I originally wrote about Paul Sample, an American Regionalist of the early part of the 20th century and my admiration for his work.

The Crucified LandRecently, I came across a name in Western Perspectives, the blog from Lovett’s Gallery in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  They mentioned a show appearing the Alexandre Hogue Gallery at the University of Tulsa.  I didn’t know the name so I quickly googled it and was surprised and delighted at the results.

Alexandre Hogue was another American Regionalist painter from the 1930’s who eventually ended up as the head of the art department at the U. of Tulsa.  He died in 1994.

Dust BowlLike Sample, I immediately connected with Hogue’s color palette and use of deep, saturated tones.  His landscapes of Dust Bowl-era middle America had a sense of message that was strong and served up in images that were powerful while still being attractive.  I have never seen Hogue’s work in person so I can’t talk about his surfaces or the painterly quality of the work but his work is, as I said, very striking in print and online.  There’s something gratifying about finding the work of a Hogue or a Sample, painters who will never be the flavor of the month but have distinct and powerful voices in their painting.

Good stuff…

Mother Earth Laid Bare

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Paul Sample CelebrationSometimes you run across work that really hits you and you wonder, “How have I never heard of this guy before?”

The world of art is full of such people, artists who while popular in their time never have made that shift into the ongoing popular consciousness. Perhaps their style was out of step or out of favor in their time or perhaps they just never caught the big break.  One of my favorite examples is the artist Paul Sample.  paul-sample-church-supper

The poor guy doesn’t even warrant a Wikipedia page of his own.

I first saw a piece of his a number of years ago in a traveling exhibit at the Arnot Art Museum,  in Elmira.  I can’t remember the title or even all the details.  I just recall being struck by the composition and the way he framed the painting with the elements at the picture’s edge (much like he has done in the top painting, Celebration, shown here).  There was an emergence from dark to light that really presented the central part of the scene in a strong way.  

Paul Sample Janitor's Holiday I immediately went home and integrated this idea of his into my own work.  Over the years I’ve come across other examples of his work (I’ve never been able to locate the piece I saw those years ago) and am always visually excited by them.  The compositions have a wonderful triangular quality where everything more less pointed to center of the panel, allowing the eye to settle easily into the painting.  His colors have the richness and dark undertones that  really attract me as well.

As I’ve said, the art world is full of any number of Paul Samples.  They may be less known and less loved than the brighter stars in their galaxy but their work remains alive and vital, full of the potential to influence even to this day.

Give them a chance…

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