Monday, November 24, 2014

Edwin Dickinson: In His Own Catergory

Edwin Walter Dickinson (1891-1978) was a modernist of sorts.

That is, he wasn't really a traditionalist painter even though many of his images included realistic details.

By the feel of some of his images, he might have been considered a Symbolist. Except it can be difficult to point out what was being symbolized.

Given some odd juxtapositions and choices of subjects, he might be considered a Surrealist. But only in a vague kind of way.

It seems Dickinson is hard to pin down when it comes to the evidence of his paintings.

Even verbally, he could be vague or impenetrable. At one point, he gave a lecture at Yale that left many in the audience puzzled. And then there's this interview regarding William Merritt Chase and Charles W. Hawthorne as his teachers, which contains bits that I found difficult to follow during a quick read.

Many of the links to Wikipedia dealing with obscure artists are brief, lacking the amount of detail I prefer to have. In Dickinson's case, his entry is huge. Then there's a fairly new online Dickinson Catalogue Raisonné that can be found here. If you want to read even more, there's John Perreault's take on Dickinson here and some observations by Mary Ellen Abell here.

Perhaps because he doesn't fit easily into the Modernist Establishment Art History Timeline handed down to me at university, and also because of the difficulty categorizing his work, I was totally unaware of Dickinson until very recently. So far as I know, I've never seen any of his paintings. But given what I found on the Internet, I would really like to, because many of them seem fascinating.


Elizabeth Finney - 1915
A fairly early work.

An Anniversary - 1920-21
This seems to symbolize something ... but what?

Biala, Née Janice Tworkov - 1924

The Cello Player - 1924-26

Frances Foley - 1927

Frances Foley, Second Portrait - 1928
Foley became his wife in 1928.

The Fossil Hunters - 1928
When this was first exhibited, it was hung sideways. That's understandable, given the odd perspective Dickinson gave his subjects here.

Woodland Scene - 1929-1935

Composition with Still Life - 1933-37
These two paintings seem vaguely Surrealist ... or maybe vaguely Symbolist ... or something else.

Elsbeth Miller - no date

Self-Portrait in Uniform - 1942
Hmm. I had a great-grandfather who was a musician-stretcher-bearer in the American Civil War.

The Ruin at Daphne - 1943-1953
Yes, it took Dickinson about a decade to complete this painting.

View of Great Island - 1940
Dickinson did many landscapes in premier coup mode starting as a student under Hawthorne.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really interesting work that draws you in!