Edwin Dickinson: A Critical History of His Paintings

Edwin Dickinson: A Critical History of His Paintings

Edwin Dickinson: A Critical History of His Paintings

Edwin Dickinson: A Critical History of His Paintings

Synopsis

"John Ward's book is the first monograph to be published on the paintings of this important, but neglected artist. It includes careful analyses of all the paintings Dickinson considered his major ones and discussions of a wide range of his other work. Imagery, process, and pictorial structure are examined in terms of Dickinson's biography and training, his convictions and enthusiasms, the artistic traditions upon which he drew, and the effect of personal loss on his work. Materials studied in researching the book included fifty-six years of the artist's journals and several thousand pages of his letters." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

As A GRADUATE STUDENT AT YALE IN THE SPRING OF 1962 I remember seeing Edwin Dickinson's Interior numerous times in the University Art Gallery, where it was on loan. My first encounter with Ruin at Daphne, about which I had previously read in ARTnews, must have occurred near the same time. My other knowledge of Dickinson's work came from the few black-and-white reproductions in john I. H. Baur's book New Art in America. That was all I knew about Dickinson until twenty years later, when I saw two remarkable paintings and three drawings in the exhibition “Realism and Realities” at Rutgers University and reproductions of his small works, quickly painted from observation, in the catalogue of the Hirshhorn Museum's exhibition in 1980. But the early encounters already convinced me that Dickinson was an important artist.

When I decided to write a book on a twentiethcentury American representational painter, I looked through my book American Realist Painting, 1945-1980 to find a subject based on two criteria: I looked for the painter whose work was the most interesting and the least well studied. Dickinson stood out on both counts. His paintings left me feeling they would richly repay careful study. And the literature available on them was woefully sparse. In the world of art history, the paintings of Edwin Dickinson form a little-known terrain, badly in need of further exploration and mapping. As I began my study, I discovered the work of a few researchers who had preceded me, and I have profited from their discoveries and ideas. Regrettably, however, their efforts are known to only a few specialists. For others seeking insight into the work of Dickinson, little material has been generally available—a gaping void that has badly needed filling for many years.

My original plan was to write on Dickinson's work in all media, his drawings, watercolors, and prints as well as his paintings. As the writing progressed, however, it became evident that this subject was too large for the present study. I have included a few drawings and a watercolor in this book, but otherwise it was necessary to confine my subject to the work that Dickinson himself thought most important, his oil paintings. Nor have I attempted to reproduce or discuss all of Dickinson's oil paintings. Rather, pictures were chosen as illustrations because of their importance to the artist, for their aesthetic quality, to illustrate specific points, or to represent important directions in Dickinson's art. A comprehensive catalogue raisonné of his work, the product of many years of research by the artist's daughter, Helen Dickinson Baldwin, was well under way when I began my research for the present book in 1995 and should be published near the time my book appears. Her painstaking compilation of information about his works has allowed me to concentrate on trying to discover the forces that helped shape Dickinson as an artist and their relation to the imagery, formal properties, and expressive effect of the paintings I have chosen to study.

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