California Landscapes

May. 15, 2010Sep. 7, 2010
Scott Galleries, Chandler Wing

Gifts of California Art on View

The landscape of California as depicted by a variety of 20th-century artists is highlighted in this small exhibition of paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints, and photographs. Given to The Huntington over the past 50 years, these works complement the Library’s extensive holdings of materials relating to the history of California and the West.

“California Landscapes: Gifts to The Huntington’s Art Collections” continues through Sept. 6 in the Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art.

Holdings of California art at The Huntington have grown organically over the years. American art became a distinct collecting area in 1979 when the Virginia Steele Scott Foundation gave The Huntington 50 American paintings. Because this monumental gift represented artists of national reputation, subsequent acquisitions tended to follow that precedent. However, images of California have always had a special place in the collections. Henry Huntington bought landscape paintings by San Francisco–based artist William Keith in the early 1900s. From 1940 to 1944, Edward Weston printed 500 of his photographs specifically for The Huntington. More recently, The Huntington has been given works by Guy Rose, Marion Wachtel, and Percy Gray—artists who employed Impressionist and Tonalist styles to portray sun-kissed California landscapes.

Modernists, including Weston, Paul Landacre, and Rinaldo Cuneo, present an abstracted view of nature, often concentrated on effects of light. California landscape art at The Huntington reflects the characteristics of American art in the 20th century, but often with a special regional twist, as artists portrayed the dramatic vistas native to the state: rocky coastlines, barren deserts, vast agricultural fields, suburban hillsides populated by eucalyptus, and densely forested Sierra Nevada mountains.