LA Art Show Coverage: Granville Redmond

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By Moira Cue

Although we covered the L.A. Art Show in our last issue, the show was literally so much bigger and better than ever before in 2014 that we've extended coverage to this issue as well. The L.A. Art Show, no matter how educated you are, if you are patient and thorough, will expand your appreciation of talent which was previously unknown to you.


For example, my area of concentration tends toward Modern to Contemporary, including and especially the avant-garde. A trip through the Trotter Galleries re-introduced me to Granville Redmond (1871-1935), an early California painter who was a child prodigy who happened to go deaf due to childhood exposure to scarlet fever. I was charmed and astounded by his work and enjoyed learning a little about his life to share with you here.

The following biography is excerpted from the Trotter Gallery website:

"...Redmond distinguished himself, winning the W.E. Brown medal of excellence, and in 1893 was awarded funds from the California School of the Deaf which made it possible for him to study in Paris at the Academie Julian under Jean Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant. At the Academie Julian, he roomed with sculptor Douglas Tilden, another graduate of the California School for the Deaf. While in Paris, Redmond distinguished himself once again, when in 1895 his large canvas, Matin d'Hiver, was accepted for the Paris Salon.

At the California School of Design he had became acquainted with many other artists, including Tonalists Gottardo Piazzoni, with whom Redmond made several painting trips around California, and Giuseppe Cadenasso, to whom he gave encouragement. Piazzoni learned sign language and he and Redmond were lifelong friends. They roomed together in Parkfield, California, and also in Tiburon. At that time, it was difficult for artists and would-be artists in San Francisco and in the West to find ways to practice their fine art. Opportunities in commercial illustration were a little brighter, and Redmond and many other artists were drawn to newspapers and local magazines such as the Overland Monthly as sources of revenue.

In 1898, he returned to California, changed his first name to Granville, and settled in Los Angeles, where he painted many scenes of Laguna Beach, Catalina Island, and San Pedro. He was married in 1899 to Carrie Ann Jean, a graduate of the Illinois School for the Deaf. Together they had three children. While living in Los Angeles, he became friends with Charlie Chaplin, whom he helped in perfecting his pantomime techniques. Chaplin gave Redmond a studio on the movie lot, collected many of his paintings, and sponsored him in silent acting roles including playing the sculptor in ''City Lights'', and a feature part in ''You'd Be Surprised.'' He also got to know Los Angeles neighbor artists Elmer Wachtel and Norman St. Clair. All three exhibited paintings with Laguna Beach titles at the annual Spring Exhibition held in San Francisco in 1904. By 1905 Redmond was receiving considerable recognition as a leading landscape painter and bold colorist.

Redmond's early works in Los Angeles were mostly moody Tonal landscapes, scenes of farmers and their animals, and nocturnes similar to those by John Bond Francisco and other scenic painters in Northern California. Redmond also sought subjects throughout the state's coastal regions, such as Silver and Gold (oil on canvas, Laguna Art Museum), and often summered in Monterey County, where he later settled in 1908. In 1910, he moved farther north to San Mateo, becoming a member of San Francisco's art establishment, but he continued to exhibit in Los Angeles and to associate with that city's artists, returning to live there in 1918.

From 1910 to 1917, he spent time in various Northern California locations, studying and painting. About the time he moved north, Redmond turned to rendering sweeping terrains covered with highly colorful wildflowers, especially the purple lupine and California's state flower, the golden poppy. He developed a colorism and brushwork linked to Impressionism, though he was motivated more by his subjects than by aesthetic theory. West Coast critics at that time noted his use of Pointillism and likened his art to that of Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro. Although Redmond recognized the public's preference for his brightly colored poppy pictures, he generally preferred to paint darker, more poetic scenes. Some of his finest paintings are of Catalina Island in Southern California, and of the oaks of Monterey County in Northern California."

The hazy soft pallet of Redmond not only reminds one of the French impressionists such as Monet, but also predates and reminds me of the blurred color blocks of the contemporary artist Rothko. There is a gentleness and appreciation of the sublime within the work that makes it highly desirable to buyers.

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