Maynard Dixon, a jolly person who could often be seen wearing full cowboy attire, complete with a Stetson hat, boots and bola tie, was born Henry St. John Dixon and was an American landscape painter famous for his portraits of the desolate deserts of the American southwest.
Born on January 24, 1875, in Fresno, California, Maynard Dixon had a mother who encouraged his drawing as a child. Dixon never had a formal art education, though he did have a few private tutors. He supported himself as an illustrator for a few San Francisco newspapers until his fame as a landscape painter grew.
Around the year 1900 and at the suggestion of his mentor, Charles Lummis, Dixon traveled to see the American West and ignited his lifelong passion for painting landscapes of Montana, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. After returning to the east coast and spending a short period of time there in New York with his first wife, Lillian west Toby and baby daughter, Constance, he returned to the west and settled in California. Shortly thereafter, his first marriage came to an end.
His second wife, the famed photographer Dorothea Lange, had a great influence on his art. They married in 1920, and had two sons together, and over their 15-year marriage, Dixon established his bold and modern-leaning style which utilized subdued colors, low horizons and vast skies.
After divorcing Lange in 1935, Dixon met and married San Francisco muralist Edith Hamlin. They moved to Utah where Dixon would create his most important and iconic works.
Maynard Dixon was an expert at balancing light and shadow in his compositions. Most of his landscapes were of a desolate and untouched scene though he did enjoy painting the inhabitants as well, especially Native Americans and Cowboys. These themes would carry through his art for the remainder of his life.
On November 11, 1946, Dixon passed away at his winter home and studio in Tucson Arizona.
Dixon’s work is an inspiration for what a landscape painting has the capacity to be. He worked with a sort of, “less is more” style, and because of the restrained views, he was able to create very powerful, moving works of art to be treasured for generations to come.
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