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The Pasadena Museum of California Art opens a retrospective of artist Edgar Payne
Edgar Payne, The Rendezvous (Santa Cruz Island, CA), 1915.

PASADENA, CA.- The Pasadena Museum of California Art presents Edgar Payne: The Scenic Journey, a retrospective of artist Edgar Payne (1883–1947), one of the most gifted of California’s early plein-air painters. Payne’s work exemplifies the power and dynamism that separate California Impressionism from the picturesque French Impressionism of the 18th Century. One of the first exhibitions of his work in over forty years, the retrospective features nearly 100 paintings and drawings, as well as photographs and objects from the artist’s studio; the exhibition will be on view from June 3 - October 14, 2012.

Born in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri in 1883, Payne began his art career by painting signs, stage sets, and murals. He considered himself completely self-taught—his training lasted only two weeks at the Chicago Art Institute—and believed that nature was his best teacher. He ultimately settled in California and from there travelled widely. He exhibited at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, was commissioned by the Santa Fe Railroad to create paintings of the Southwest, won an honorable mention at the Paris Salon, and was a founding member of the Laguna Beach Art Association.

Payne utilized the animated brushwork, vibrant palette, and shimmering light characteristic of Impressionism, but his employment of powerful imagery was unique among artists of his generation. While his contemporaries favored a quieter, more idyllic representation of the natural landscape, Payne was devoted to its raw, rugged beauty. His majestic and vital landscapes are informed by his reverence for the natural world. The exhibition traces Payne’s artistic development as he traveled the world in search of this grandeur: the Southern and Central California coast, the Sierra, the Swiss Alps, the harbors and waterways of France and Italy, and the desert Southwest.

“In the course of his painting expeditions, Payne was determined to rediscover a broad and epic landscape that captured and conveyed the ‘unspeakably sublime,’” said Scott A. Shields, Ph.D., the exhibition’s curator and associate director and chief curator at the Crocker Art Museum. “In each locale, he sought vitality, bigness, nobility, and grandeur, which he turned into unified, carefully calculated compositions with brushwork that seemed to pulsate with life.”

This exhibition was organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art and curated by Shields.

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