Crocker Art Museum takes visitors on a ‘scenic journey’
SACRAMENTO — The Crocker Art Museum will present a career-spanning retrospective of the work of Edgar Payne (1883-1947), one of the most gifted of California’s early plein-air artists, in the exhibition “Edgar Payne: The Scenic Journey.”
This exhibition features nearly 100 paintings and drawings, as well as photographs and objects from the artist’s studio. The exhibition will be on view at the Crocker from Feb. 11 through May 6, before traveling to additional venues in Pasadena and Tulsa, Okla.
Payne utilized the animated brushwork, vibrant palette and shimmering light of Impressionism, but his powerful imagery was unique among artists of his generation. While his contemporaries favored a quieter, more idyllic representation of the natural landscape, Payne was devoted to subjects of rugged beauty. His majestic, 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 magnificent settings: 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, Ph.D., 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.”
Born in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri in 1883, 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 Chicago Art Institute — and believed that nature was his best teacher. Payne ultimately settled in California and from there travelled 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 became a founding member of the Laguna Beach Art Association.
This exhibition was curated by Shields and organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art. A 272-page, full-color catalogue published by Pomegranate Communications accompanies the exhibition and includes essays by Shields; Lisa N. Peters, director of research and publications at Spanierman Gallery, New York; Peter Hassrick, director emeritus of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum and of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming; and Jean Stern, executive director of The Irvine Museum. Also included is an introduction by Patricia Trenton, senior advisor for the Edgar Payne project, and a preface by Jenkins Shannon, executive director of the Pasadena Museum of California Art.
After debuting at the Crocker, the exhibition will be on display at the Pasadena Museum of California Art from June 3 to Oct. 14, 2012, and then the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Okla., from Dec. 1, 2012, to March 24, 2013.
The Crocker is located at 216 O St. in downtown Sacramento. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursdays. Every Third Sunday of the month is “Pay What You Wish Sunday” sponsored by Bank of America. For more information call (916) 808-7000 or visit crockerartmuseum.org.