Monday, March 31, 2014

Gottardo Piazzoni and a Friend

Earlier in the month, Connie and I took a trip to the Bay Area. Connie was taking a training course in San Francisco on Thursday and Friday of that week, and while she was in school, I played hookey and hit a couple of museums. On the weekend, we drove up to Sonoma County and toured wineries, etc.

One of my visits was to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and its excellent art collections. When I got there, I was surprised and pleased to see this sign, advertising works by Gottardo Piazzoni (1872-1945) a Swiss-born California artist, who I had read about, but whose work I had never seen.

The room houses two murals:

The Sea (1931)...


and The Land (1932). Please click to "embiggen" these. The angled shots were the best I could do with the size of the room and my 18mm lens. Each mural is done in five panels and they were meant to give the impression that the viewer is looking out through a colonnade, west to a seascape and east to a landscape. They were originally painted for and installed in the San Francisco Public Library. They were moved to the de Young after the library was repurposed as a museum for oriental art.

Piazzoni was the grandfather of contemporary artist Russell Chatham, who you may know, did the painting on the cover of this book. In the short memoir he wrote for his book, One Hundred Paintings , Chatham describes how he spent endless hours in his youth copying his grandfather's paintings, which were a great inspiration to him. I believe you can certainly see Piazzoni's influence in his work.

Here is another Piazzoni painting that was in the gallery, Silence (1912).

And in the gallery near Silence, I was able to view this Maynard Dixon painting I had not seen before, November in Nevada (1935). You all know how I feel about Dixon.

Dixon and Piazzoni were contemporaries and friends, part of a group of writers and artists who regularly had dinner together at Coppa's, an Italian restaurant in San Francisco.

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