Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Millard Sheets: General-Purpose Artist

Millard Sheets (1907-1989), was a Californian involved in a variety of art-related activities ranging from watercolor and oil painting to mosaic design, architecture, and art school administration. This diversity of pursuits (perhaps along with the fact that he wasn't totally in the modernist/abstraction tank) might have diluted his image to the point where he isn't well known today.

Since I don't want this post to be too lengthy, I suggest that readers interested in details regarding Sheets' life and career link to here and here for plenty of information. His son maintains this site, the page I linked to containing examples of works that are confirmed as not being Sheets' paintings and others of dubious provenance.

Below are examples of what Sheets did.


Angel's Flight - 1931
This early painting is perhaps his best-known. It deals with what might be the station platform for a funicular that transported people to the now vanished Bunker Hill neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles.

Tenement Flats - c.1934
This also looks like the old Bunker Hill area.

California - 1935

Padua Olive Hills Drive - 1940

World of Life - mural, Hesburgh Library, University of Notre Dame - 1964
Details regarding this project can be found here.

Home Savings Bank building - Sunset & Vine, Hollywood - 1968
Sheets was not a licensed architect. But his Millard Sheets Designs Company did have architects working under his direction. Sheets was responsible for many (most?) of the distinctive Home Savings buildings with sculpted motifs that graced California from the 1960s into the 1990s. Home Savings is no more, having been passed to Washington Mutual and then Chase. Many of the former Home Savings buildings have lost their former distinctiveness.


Augustin Tougas said...

'Angel's Flight' is absolutely gorgeous! I have rarely seen such perspective in a painting. The way your gaze is driven toward the three figures downstairs.

Siolo Thompson said...

Agreed, Angel's Flight is a very interesting painting. I love the perspective, it's really challenging!

Donald Pittenger said...

Augustin and Siolo -- It's a nice painting, and just today I had a thought that I should have included in the post. Namely, what effect might it have on an artist when it turns out that your best (or best-known) painting is an early one; how might this affect one's attitude years later after you've been diligently trying to improve your skills?

And Siolo -- Nice to hear from you again. Hope that exhibit that you said you were going to be working on went well.