Dixon, Maynard

Dixon, Maynard Biography

Ansel Adams once commented that for Maynard Dixon, "the West was uncrowded, unlittered, unorganized and free." Adams might have added that Dixon would allow no fences to surround him, imaginary or real. Dixon Painted the arid landscape of southern California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. Although he was geographically isolated from the mainstream, Maynard Dixon should be regarded as a pivotal connection between late-nineteenthcentury and contemporary American art. His artwork opens the way for the sparse rock-, cloud-, and desertscapes vocabulary developed by a number of artists, including Georgia O'Keeffe and Helen Frankenthaler.

Born in Fresno, California, in 1875, Dixon ended his formal art training in early 1893 after three months at San Francisco's Mark Hopkins Institute of Art. By the middle 1890s, in an era acknowledged as the Golden Age of Illustration, he was one of the country's foremost purveyors of nostalgic, Old West images. Hundreds of his pictures appeared in leading newspapers, magazines, and in books by such authors as Jack London, John Muir, O. Henry, Mary Austin, Eugene Manlove Rhodes, and Clarence Mulford. After 1912, when he concluded he could no longer portray the West in "false" terms, Dixon devoted increasing attention to easel and mural painting, experimenting with impressionism, post-impressionism, and large-scale mural decoration, while still pursuing a career in commercial art, particularly poster design.

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