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L. Maynard Dixon

L. Maynard Dixon was born near Fresno, California in 1875. He was an interpreter of western landscapes and Native American themes. He was a painter, a muralist, and an illustrator. He died in 1946 in Tucson, Arizona. 


Although he was primarily self-taught, Dixon briefly studied at California Institute of Design in 1893. He worked as an illustrator for several California publications before going to New York where he worked at Scribner's and Harper's Monthly from 1907 to 1912.

He received a bronze medal for Trail in Oregon (1915) at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. In the 1920s, he received many commissions to paint murals in California including the dining room in steamship Silver State (1923), the Pageant of Traditions at the Sacramento State Library (1928), and the proscenium in the auditorium at the Oakland Technical High School. 

Biography adapted from the Springville Museum of Art.

Maynard Dixon was a product of the West. Born in 1875 in Fresno, California, his wonderful paintings of Western landscapes and of the American Indians epitomized a land and people that Americans wanted to romanticize. He first began painting desert scenes in a simplified, almost cubist manner. Later, after marrying the Depression-era photographer Dorothea Lange, Dixon turned to sad, stylized images of the Great Depression and turbulent views of city life. In the last years of his life, he turned again to the landscape of the West. A self-taught painter, he first visited Utah's Zion canyon in 1938. He immediately fell in love with the area and built a ten-acre summer residence at Mt. Carmel. For the remaining years of his life, Dixon passed his summers at Mt. Carmel and painted the Southern Utah landscape.

Road to the River, Mt. Carmel, Utah depicts a view from behind his house, looking toward the Virgin River. In the small oil, he portrayed nature in a calming manner, contrasting the serene, blue mountains with the energetic, golden poplars. The artist chose to paint a simplified view of the area, subduing the foreground colors and creating strong geometric, almost cubist, figures. The contrasting colors and bold composition make the painting seem larger than it is. In addition, Maynard's approach to painting the road and its surroundings both created a relaxing view of the area and glorified its natural setting. He made no attempt to add details to make it more lovely, but painted it as he saw it, letting the beauty of the landscape stand for itself. According to Robert Olpin, “Dixon continues to be recognized as the greatest painter to capture the grandeur and monumentality of the Southern Utah landscape.“

Dixon's oeuvre is not stylistically classifiable. His life's works do not fit into one major movement, although they show the influence of the Impressionists, the Modernists, the Cubists, the Realists, and painters of the old West like Frederic Remington. Not always appreciated by the layman, Dixon's approach is appreciated by connoisseurs and artists. He was a social critic and a poet, fearlessly painting commentaries on the plight of the Native American and of victims of the Great Depression and social unrest. He lived among the figures he painted, actually spending time among the Hopi, Blackfoot, and Navajo Indians, and living in undeveloped Western areas like Taos, New Mexico, and Mt. Carmel. His character and his work make him one of the West's greatest painters.

Ultimately, Dixon's goal was to touch our human side with his landscapes and scenes of the city. He wanted to allow us to feel. He makes this point in one of his poems, written under his trademark thunderbird signature, “This is my mark, / this is the mark I make / upon your heart.“ As he once said, “Painting, as I see it, must be human rather than arty--it 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.“

Dixon died in 1946 and arranged for his ashes to be buried at a spot overlooking his beloved Mt. Carmel home.

Biography courtesy Springville Museum of Art.

Newspaper Articles

"Art & Architecture; Not Just for the Jet Set; The L.A. Art Show, With an Influx of Modern Works and a New Airport Venue, Aims to Lure First-Time Buyers." Los Angeles Times, September 29, 2002.

"Art canvass." The Deseret News, May 9, 2004.

"The Best and the Worst of 2001: Art." The Deseret News, December 28, 2001.

"Blue Plate Dishes Up Photographs." Albuquerque Journal, March 6, 1998.

"Book Review The West Through Artists's Eyes The Call Of The Mountains Larry Len Peterson." The Oregonian, July 28, 2002.

"Collection paints American history." Omaha World-Herald, December 2, 2001.

"Desert Dreams: Symposium on artist Maynard Dixon set for Nov. 21 in S.L." The Deseret News, November 15, 1998.

"Eastside Gallery is Mounting Another Maynard Dixon Show." Arizona Daily Star, November 6, 1998.

"Exhibit to Feature Sketches by the 'Dean of Western Artists.'" Arizona Daily Star, March 8, 2001.

"From Museum to the home." Albuquerque Journal, January 5, 2003.

"Fruitful Relationships." The Salt Lake Tribune, October 5, 2003.

"The Heart -- and Art -- of Maynard Dixon." The Salt Lake Tribune, November 25, 2001.

"A Jolly Good Show; `Colorado Legacy' A Peek At Art Museum's Prestigious Harmsen Collection." Rocky Mountain News, November 23, 2001.

"Landscape of Heritage: Art Studios, a Church and Schools are Among 14 Preservation Winners." The Salt Lake Tribune, October 7, 2001.

"Letters from a Master Artist: Celebrating Maynard Dixon Through his Correspondence." The Deseret News, November 25, 2001.

"A Marriage of Art & Activism." The Salt Lake Tribune, November 19, 2000.

"Maynard Dixon Home Reopens in Southern Utah." The Salt Lake Tribune, August 22, 1999.

"Maynard Dixon: Painter, Poet of the Desert; Dixon: Painter, Poet of the American West." The Salt Lake Tribune, November 25, 1998.

"Metropolis / Snapshots from the Center of the Universe; Fine-Tuning a Legacy; A Community Center Dreams in Harmony." Los Angeles Times, February 29, 2004.

"'Roadshow' Rides into Town / Next week Bay Area Viewers Will get a Chance to Find out Whether Their Neighbors' Stuff is Junk or Valuable Antiques." San Francisco Chronicle, January 24, 2004.

"A Sense of Place." The Salt Lake Tribune, June 29, 2003.

"Simply Stunning 'California's Native Grandeur' Highlights the Delicate Balance Between Man and Nature." Orange County Register, January 22, 2004.

"Terra Exhibit Celebrates Hard-Working Americans." Chicago- Sun Times, March 14, 2003.

"Utah Art Spans An Array Of Time, Subject Matter." The Deseret News, March 31, 1991.

"Utah Marquee: Visual Art." The Salt Lake Tribune, August 22, 2003.

"Utah's Best Artists -- Times Two." The Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2002.

"Western Artist's Legacy Lives on in Restored Utah Cabin." Oakland Tribune, August 24, 2003.

"Winter Wonderlands." The Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2004.

Books

Adams, Celeste Marie. America: Art and the West. New York, NY: American-Australian Foundation for the Arts and International Cultural Corporation of Australia, 1986.

Ainsworth, Ed. Painters of the Desert; Glimpses at Those Who Captured for Themselves and for Their Fellowmen the Beauty and Message of the American Desert. Palm Desert, CA: Desert Magazine, 1960.

Amon Carter Museum. Catalogue of the Collection, 1972. Fort Worth, TX: Amon Carter Museum, 1972.

Axelrod, Alan. Art of the Golden West. New York, NY: Abbeville Press, 1990.

Baird, Joseph Armstrong Jr. From Exposition to Exposition: Progressive and Conservative Northern California Painting, 1915-1939. Sacramento, CA: Crocker Art Museum, 1981.

Baird, Joseph Armstrong. The West Remembered: Artists and Images, 1837-1973. San Francisco, CA: California Historical Society, 1973.

Ballinger, James and Susan Gordon. The Popular West: American Illustrators, 1900-1940. Denver, CO: The Museum, 1983.

Ballinger, James K and Andrea D. Rubinstein. Visitors to Arizona 1846 to 1980: Catalogue and Essays. Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix Art Museum, 1980.

Boehme, Sarah E. Whitney Gallery of Western Art. Cody, WY: Buffalo Bill Historical Center, 1997.

Boyles, Kate and Virgil Dillin. The Homesteaders. Chicago, IL: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1909.

Boyles, Kate and Virgil Dillin. The Spirit Trail. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1910.

Brady, Cyrus Townsend. The West Wind: a Story of Red Men and White in Old Wyoming. Chicago. IL: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1912.

Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Treasures from our West. Cody, WY: Buffalo Bill Historical Center, 1992.

Burnside, Wesley M. Maynard Dixon, Artist of the West. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1974.

Chase, Katherin L. Brushstrokes on the Plateau: an Overview of Anglo Art on the Colorado Plateau. Flagstaff, AZ: Museum of Northern Arizona, 1984.

Clarence, E. Mulford and John Wood Clay. Buck Peters, Ranchman: Being a Story of What Happened When Buck Peters and Hopalong Cassidy, and Their Bar-20 Associates Went to Montana. Chicago, IL: A.C. McClurg, 1912.

Cunningham, Elizabeth. Masterpieces of the American West: Selections from the Anschutz Collection. Denver, CO: A.B. Hirschfeld Press, 1983.

Burnside, Wesley M. Maynard Dixon: Artist of the West. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1974.

Carlson, Raymond. Gallery of Western Paintings. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1951.

Chase, Katherin L. Brushstrokes on the Plateau: an Overview of Anglo Art on the Colorado Plateau. Flagstaff, AZ: Museum of Northern Arizona, 1984.

Coolidge, Dane. The Texican. Chicago, IL: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1911.

Coolidge, Dane. Hidden Water. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1910.

Coran, James and W. A. Nelson-Rees. If Pictures Could Talk: Stories about California Paintings in our Collection. Oakland, CA: WIM, 1989.

Davenport, Ray. Davenport's Art Reference. Ventura, CA: Davenport's Art Reference, 2001.

Dawdy, Doris. Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary. Chicago, IL: Sage Books, 1990.

Dixon, Maynard. The Drawings of Maynard Dixon. San Francisco, CA: Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1985.

Dixon, Maynard. Maynard Dixon: Images of the Native American. San Francisco, CA: California Academy of Sciences, 1981.

Dixon, Maynard. Maynard Dixon, Ed Mell: Images of the Southwest, Past & Present: Dewey Galleries, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 5-24, 1985. Santa Fe, NM: Dewey Galleries, 1985.

Dixon, Maynard. Querido Patron: Letters from Maynard Dixon to Lorenzo Hubbell. Tucson, AZ: Friends of the University of Arizona Library, 1987.

Dixon, Maynard. Rim-Rock and Sage: the Collected Poems of Maynard Dixon. San Francisco, CA: California Historical Society, 1977.

Dunbier, Lonnie Pierson. ed. The Artists Bluebook: 29,000 North American Artists. Scottsdale, AZ: AskART.com, 2003.

Dykes, Jeff. Fifty Great Western Illustrators: a Bibliographic Checklist. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Press, 1975.

Earle, Helen L. Biographical Sketches of American Artists. 5th ed. Lansing, MI: Michigan State Library, Edition: 1972.

Eiteljorg, Harrison. Treasures of the American West: selections from the collection of Harrison Eiteljorg. New York, NY: Balance House, 1981.

Falk, Peter Hastings. Annual Exhibition Record, 1901-19: National Academy of Design. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1990.

Falk, Peter Hastings. The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1888-1950. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1990.

Falk, Peter Hastings. The Annual Exhibition Record of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1989.

Falk, Peter Hastings. Who Was Who in American Art : Compiled from the Original Thirty-four Volumes of American Art Annual--Who's Who in Art, Biographies of American Artists Active from 1898-1947. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1985.

Fees, Paul and Sarah E. Boehme. Frontier America: Art and Treasures of the Old West from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. New York, NY: The Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Association with H.N. Abrams, 1988.

Fein, Eric, and Emily Muschinske. How to draw Nevada's Sights and Symbolism. New York, NY: Power Kids Press, 2002.

Fielding, Mantle and Glenn B. Opitz. Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers. 2nd ed. Poughkeepsie, NY: Apollo, 1986.

Fiske, Turbese and Kieth Lummis. Charles F. Lummis: the Man and his West. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1975.

Flynn, Kathryn A. Treasures on New Mexico Trails: Discover New Deal Art and Architecture. Santa Fe, NM: Sunstone Press, 1995.

Foxley, William C. Frontier Spirit: Catalog of the Collection of the Museum of Western Art. Denver, CO: The Museum, 1983.

Gerdts, William H. Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting, 1710-1920. New York, NY: Abbeville Press, 1990.

Gerdts, William and Will South. California Impressionism. New York, NY: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1998.

Goetzmann, William. The West of the Imagination. New York, NY: Norton, 1986.

Growdon, Marcia Cohn. Artists in the American Desert: An Exhibition Organized by the Sierra Nevada Museum of Art, November 29, 1980-January 11, 1981. Reno, NV: Sierra Nevada Museum of Art, 1980.

Hagerty, Donald J. Canyon de Chelly: 100 Hundred Years of Painting and Photography. Salt Lake City, UT: G. Smith, 1996.

Hagerty, Donald J. and Maynard Dixon. Desert Dreams: the Art and Life of Maynard Dixon. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith Publishers: 1993.

Hagerty, Donald J. Leading the West: One Hundred Contemporary Painters and Sculptors. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Pub, 1997.

Harmsen, Dorothy. Harmsen's Western Americana; a Collection of One Hundred Western Paintings with Biographical Profiles of the Artists. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Press, 1971.

Hassrick, Peter H. The Way West: Art of Frontier America. New York, NY: Abrams, 1977.

Heyman, Therese Thau. Posters American Style. New York, NY: National Museum of American, Smithsonian Institution in association with H.N. Abrams, 1998.

Hills, Patricia. Turn-of-the-Century America: Paintings, Graphics, Photographs, 1890-1910. New York, NY: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1977.

Hornung, Clarence Pearson. The American Eagle in Art and Design: 321 Examples. New York, NY: Dover Publications, 1978.

Hough, Katherine Plake and Michael Zakian. Transforming the Western Image in 20th Century American Art. Seattle, WA: Distributed by University of Washington Press, 1992.

Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California, 1786-1940. San Francisco, CA: Hughes Pub. Co., 1986.

Karpel, Bernard and Ruth Spiegel. Visitors to Arizona 1846 to 1980: Catalogue and Essays. Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix Art Museum, 1979.

Karpiscak, Adeline Lee. Maynard Dixon: Portraits of the Southwest: From the Collection of the University of Arizona Museum of Art. Tucson, AZ: The Museum, 1984.

Kiehl, David W., Phillip Dennis Cate, and Nancy Finlay. American Art Posters of the 1890s in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Including the Leonard A. Lauder Collection. New York, NY: Metropolitan Museum of Art: Distributed by Abrams, 1987.

Lange, Dorothea. The Thunderbird Remembered: Maynard Dixon, the Man and the Artist. Los Angeles, CA: Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum in Association with University of Washington Press, 1994.

Lucie-Smith, Edward. Art of the 1930s: the Age of Anxiety. New York, NY: Rizzoli, 1985.

Margolin, Victor. American Poster Renaissance. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1975.

Marlor, Clark S. The Society of Independent Artists: the Exhibition Record 1917-1944. Park Ridge, NJ: Noyes Press, 1984.

McCall, Dewitt, Clinton III. California Artists, 1935 to 1956. Bellflower, CA: DeRu's Fine Art Books, 1981.

McClelland, Gordon and Jay Last. California watercolors 1850-1970: an Illustrated History & Biographical Dictionary. Santa Ana, CA: Hillcrest Press, 2002.

McCracken, Harold. Portrait of the Old West: With a Biographical Check List of Western Artists. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1952.

McShine, Kynaston, The Natural Paradise: painting in America, 1800-1950: the Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, NY: The Museum, distributed by New York Graphic Society, 1976.

Meigs, John. The Cowboy in American Print. Chicago, IL: Sage Books, 1972.

Moure, Nancy and Dustin Wall. California Art: 450 Years of Painting & Other Media. Los Angeles, CA: Dustin Publications, 1988.

Moure, Nancy, Dustin Wall. Southern California Artists, 1890-1940. Laguna Beach, CA: The Museum, 1979.

Nash, Steven A. and Bill Berkson. Facing Eden: 100 Years of Landscape Art in the Bay Area. San Francisco, CA: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1995.

Naylor, Maria. The National Academy of Design Exhibition Record, 1861-1900. New York, NY: Kennedy Galleries, 1973.

Neuhaus, Eugen. The History & Ideals of American Art. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1931.

Olpin, Robert S., William C. Seifrit, and Vern G. Swanson. Artists of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1999.

Orr-Cahill, Christina. The Art of California: Selected Works from the Collection of the Oakland Museum. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 1984.

Perceval, Don. Maynard Dixon Sketchbook. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Press, 1967.

Peterson, Larry Len. The Call of the Mountains: the Artists of Glacier National Park. Tucson, AZ: Settlers West Galleries, 2002.

Prown, Jules. Discovered Lands, Invented Pasts: Transforming Visions of the American West. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992.

Reed, Walt. The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill, 2001.

Samuels, Peggy. Techniques of the Artists of the American West. Secaucus, NJ: Wellfleet Press, 1990.

Saunders, Richard H. Collecting the West: the C.R. Smith Collection of Western American Art. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1988.

Schmitt, Victoria Sandwick. Four Centuries of Sporting Art: Selections from the John L. Wehle Collection, Gallery of Sporting Art, Genesee Country Museum. Mumford, NY: The Museum, 1984.

Skolnick, Arnold and Suzan Campbell. Paintings of the Southwest. New York, NY: C. Potter, 1994.

Southwest Art. The Master Index of Artists and Articles Published in Southwest Art: 1971 Through 1993. Boulder, CO: Southwest Art, 1993.

Southwest Art. Southwest Art's Red Book Price Guide to Western American Art. Houston, TX: Cowles Enthusiast Media, 1997.

Stern, Jean, and Pamela Hammond. Painted Light: California Impressionist Paintings from the Gardena High School, Los Angeles Unified School District Collection. Carson, CA: California State University, 1998.

Strobridge, Idah Meacham. The Land of Purple Shadows. Los Angeles, CA: The Artemisia Bindery, 1909.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Art. Layton, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, 1992.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, Donna Poulton, and Janie Rogers. 150 Years Survey of Utah Art, Utah Artists. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 2001.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Painting and Sculpture. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1991.

Sweeney, J. Gray. Masterpieces of Western American Art. New York, NY: Mallard Press, 1991.

Troccoli, Joan Carpenter. Painters and the American West: the Anschutz Collection. Denver, CO: Denver Art Museum, 2000.

Udall, Sharyn R. Modernist Painting in New Mexico, 1913-1935. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1984.

Vincent, Stephen. O California!: Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century California Landscapes and Observations. San Francisco, CA: Bedford Arts, 1990.

Viola, Herman J. Exploring the West. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books, 1987.

Watkins, T. H. and Joan P Watkins. Western Art Masterpieces. New York, NY: H. Lauter Levin Associates, 1996.

Zellman, Michael David. 300 Years of American Art. Secaucus, NJ: Wellfleet Press, 1987.

Periodicals

Archer, Joan and A. S. Steeby. "The Lure of the West." American Art Review, October 1997.

Art & Antiques. "On the Market." Art & Antiques, March 2000.

Art & Auction. "Date Book." Art & Auction, May 2001.

Art News. "Art Market." Art News, October 2002.

Art News. "Art Market." Art News, October 1995.

Art of the West. "What's News." Art of the West, May 2003.

Art Talk. "American Art." Art-talk, January 1998.

Art Talk. "In the Galleries." Art Talk, November 1998.

Art-Talk. "Records Fall at Coeur d'Alene Sale." Art-Talk, October 2002.

Carlozzi, Annette and E. Duganne. "Jack L. Blanton Museum of Art." American Art Review, December 2001.

Fauntleroy, Gussie. "How to Start Collecting." Southwest Art, October 1999.

Gangelhoff, Bonnie. "Collecting Fever." Southwest Art, April 2003.

Gibbs, Linda Jones. "150 Years of American Painting." American Art Review, October 1935.

Gibbs, Linda Jones. "An Unlikely Alliance." Southwest Art, March 2001.

Hagerty, Donald J. "Maynard Dixon and a Changing West," Montana: Western History, July 2001.

Harlow, Ann. "California Paintings 1910-1940." American Art Review, October 2000.

Hassrick, Peter. "The American West: Out of Myth." American Art Review, December 2000.

Hauck, Steve and Patricia Leach. "Images of Steinbeck's California." American Art Review, August 1998.

Hunter, Richard and David Hunt. "Stark Museum of Art." American Art Review, December 2001.

May, Stephen. "The Roaring Twenties." Southwest Art, April 1999.

May, Stephen. "Trauma, Tradition, and Transformation." Southwest Art, May 1999.

May, Stephen. "Winds of Change." Southwest Art, March 1999.

Methner, Ellen Rosenbush. "Best of the West." Southwest Art, August 1999.

Moure, Nancy, and Dustin Wall. "Coming of Age." Art & Antiques, June 2003.

Reisdorfer, Kathryn. "Arizona History Through Art." American Art Review, April 2000.

Scott, Amy. "Land as Landscape: American Aesthet." California Art Club Newsletter, February 2003.

Southwest Art "Art Events." Southwest Art, September 2001.

Southwest Art. "Art Events." Southwest Art, November 2000.

Southwest Art. "Recent Books." Southwest Art, October 2002.

Stavig, Vicki," One on One." Art of the West, April 2001.

Stavig, Vicki. "One on One." Art of the West, March 1999.

Stern, Jean. "Painted Light: California Impression." American Art Review, February 1999.

Swanson, Vern G. "150 Years of Utah Art." Southwest Art, January 2002.

 Last Modified 9/3/14