The Medicine Robe. 1915. Maynard Dixon. (1875-1946)
Maynard Dixon was born in Fresno, California. His mother, a well-educated daughter of a Naval officer, shared her love of classical literature and encouraged her son in his writing and drawing. He briefly attended the San Francisco School of Design before traveling to to the Southwest: New Mexico, Arizona and Utah where he worked as a wrangler. This began his life-long love of the area. At first he worked as an illustrator of books and magazines with Western themes. For a time he lived in New York with his first wife but returned to the Southwest where he said, "I want to create honest art of the west," not the romanticized versions he was being paid to create. He was sympathetic to the plight of the Indians. His first marriage ended and he began to develop his style, mostly Western themes. A black Stetson, boots and a bolo tie was his preferred clothing style.
As he began to modify his style, moving toward a more modern approach, he met and married Dorothea Lange, the famous photographer here in the States who became known for her work depicting migrants in the Salinas Valley whose images brought her fame. Dixon painted a series of social realism canvases which showed his shared interest in the subjects that Dorothea was photographing. They traveled, spent the summers in Utah. The couple divorced in 1935.
His third wife was the San Francisco muralist, Edith Hamlin. She also had an influence on his art and he began to paint simple but powerful compositions in which the non-essential elements were distilled or eliminated. They lived in Utah and spent the winter months in Tucson. He died in 1946 at the age of 71.
“Painting, as I see it, must be human rather than arty,” Dixon once said. “Painting is a means to an end. It is my way of saying what I want you to comprehend. It is my testimony in regard to life, and therefore I cannot lie in paint.”
|Maynard Dixon 1906|