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Maynard Dixon

Birth place or City of origin: Fresno
State of origin: CA
Last known City:
Last known State: CA
Start/Birth date: 1875
Death/End date: 1946

Maynard Dixon was an important traditional painter, muralist and illustrator of Western life. He began sketching as a young cowboy, became a close friend of Edward Borein, and was encouraged by Frederic Remington. His drawings were published by Harpers, San Francisco Examiner, Sunset Magazine and Cosmopolitan, and were used in novels. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed all his accumulated work, he devoted himself to easel painting. Dixon was one of the founders of the California Society of Artists.

Maynard Dixon captured the magnificent sweeping landscape of the American West in a deeply personal and dramatic artistic style. In works such as Navajos in a Canyon, the rich artistic legacy of the artist, fueled by his belief in the sanctity of painting for self-expression, is evident.

Dixon was born in Fresno, California in 1875, in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, where the terrain is dominated by open expanses of land and sky. As a child he suffered from asthma, and because of that illness, he led a quiet childhood. "A shy, sensitive youth, Maynard Dixon listened, looked and remembered, absorbing impressions of simplicity, low-laid masses of land, and the far-flung decorative sweeps of sky. Such shapes dominate and give signature to the art of his later years. “No doubt,” he once reflected, “these flat scenes have influenced my work. I don't like to psychoanalyze myself, but I have always felt my boyhood impressions are responsible for my weakness for horizontal lines."

D J Hagerty, Desert Dreams: The Art and Life of Maynard Dixon, Layton, Utah, 1993, p. 5


Even in his early works, executed in the 1910s, Dixon refused to portray the West as many contemporary Western artists were doing. He objected to the way those artists romanticized the Western way of life by portraying its people engaged in conflict and capture. He made a more conscious effort to direct his art away from this limited categorization in the early 1920s, a time that marked a turning point for Dixon.

 

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