The Evolution of Childe Hassam: The "Impressionist in the West" Exhibit
Substantially inspired during his two excursions to Oregon and the surrounding area in 1904 and 1908, Childe Hassam, an American impressionist, masterfully depicted the scenic beauty of the Northwest in a collection of paintings displayed from December 10th, 2004 to March 6th, 2005 at the Portland Art Museum. Though the focus of the exhibit entitled "Childe Hassam: Impressionist in the West" is the artwork centered around Oregon, there is a larger, over-arching objective of presenting Hassam's evolution as an artist.
Born in Dorchester, MA in 1859 and trained in France, Hassam achieved what few artists live to experience: success and wealth. In the span of his lifetime, which ended in 1935, Child Hassam was a successful lithographer and painter. Summoned to the West by his friend, C.E.S. (Charles Erskine Scott) Wood, who has five works in the same exhibit, Hassam found a muse in the landscapes of Oregon, producing 60-100 works in a multitude of media ranging from watercolor and oil to pastel. Providing a complete context, the exhibit displays Hassam's early works that evidence early impressionistic techniques such as scattered brushstrokes and emphasis on lighting.
By showing the work the that preceded the Northwest paintings including subjects such as the bustling New York City streets, a solitary church with an oceanic background in the light of the sunset, and a mural of women bathing in the nude taken from C.E.S. Wood's home, one can observefirst hand how Hassam's work evolved from accurate, classical works to fully impressionistic ones that concentrated not on precision and perfection, but on color, motion, and texture.Hassam's interpretations of the Oregon desert are indeed nothing short of impressionistic splendor. of no particular interest or significance, such as a sagebrush, and breathing life int…

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