Sep 192013
Le Premier Chagrin (The First Grief), Daniel Ridgway Knight, 1892, Oil on Canvas,  Brigham Young University

Le Premier Chagrin (The First Grief), Daniel Ridgway Knight, 1892, Oil on Canvas, Brigham Young University

“It sounds like a paradox, but it is a very simple truth that when to-day we look for ‘American art’ we find it mainly in Paris. When we find it out of Paris, we at least find a great deal of Paris in it.”

-Henry James, 1887

To American collectors, Daniel Ridgway Knight’s beautifully rendered painting of French peasant girls demonstrated that America had arrived culturally. The American wealthy class that emerged from the Civil War emulated European tastes. Attempting to prove that Americans could compete culturally with Europe, artists felt compelled to learn French styles. Knight mastered the academic style; he won many accolades in the French salons as well as popular success for his peasant paintings, was accepted into the 1892 Salon in Paris and was honored as one of the few works to be illustrated in the catalog. Sentimental peasants like these were one of the most popular subjects in the French salons. Knight’s idealized peasant girls inhabit a picturesque landscape untouched by urbanization.


Le Premier Chagrin is now on display in the BYU Museum of Art as part of the Shaping America exhibition. Prints are available at the MOA Store.


Sep 112013

Royal Nebeker Studio

“Royal Nebeker is a highly regarded Oregon narrative painter and teacher.  During his academic tenure, he was the Director of The Art Institute on the Oregon Coast, sponsored by the Pacific Northwest College of Art and Clatsop Community College where he served as Art Department Chair for many years.

Born in San Francisco in 1945 to a Norwegian mother and Danish/Swiss father, Nebeker has always been fascinated with Norwegian art and culture. He studied in California at the Claremont College and Otis Art Institute, earned an MFA degree from Brigham Young University in 1970 and completed a post graduate degree, equivalent to an MFA from the National School of Fine Arts in Oslo, Norway in 1972.

Throughout his career, Nebeker has focused on the human figure.  His work is strongly influenced by the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, the German Expressionists, and by the Vienna Seccessionist artists Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and others.

As an artist, Nebeker creates highly personalized narratives that are based on dreams and memories, often embellished with words and notations that help tell the story and drive his narrative.  Some of his works are based on personal events in the artist’s life, while other works are based on literature. Through powerful, evocative, and enigmatic imagery, Nebeker paints what art historian Stephen C. McGough has called a reflective journey of his (the artist’s) life, exploring such universal themes as hope, fear, joy, anguish, sexuality, spirituality, power, vulnerability, and the dynamics of personal relationships.”

Excerpt found in “Royal Nebeker: Dreams and Allusions” by Richard A. West.

Come to the BYU Museum of Art to see the exhibition, Royal Nebeker: An Artist’s Journey, in its final week.  The artist, Royal Nebeker will be speaking on Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm in the Museum of Art Auditorium about his work.


Jun 172013
Grain Fields, Edwin Evans, 1890, Oil on Canvas, Brigham Young University

Grain Fields, Edwin Evans, 1890, Oil on Canvas, Brigham Young University

“A native of Lehi, Utah, Edwin Evans did not decide to become an artist until almost thirty years of age. After initially studying with local artists in Salt Lake City, he left for France in 1890. This was just two years after the arrival in Paris of the first Utah artist, James Taylor Harwood, a boyhood acquaintance of Evans from Lehi. Soon after arriving in France, Evans joined a small group of Utah painters whose Paris art studies were being financed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In exchange for the art training, the artists were contracted upon their return to paint murals for the temple in Salt Lake City, which was nearing completion.

In Paris, Evans enrolled in Academie Julian, but like many other American students entrenched in academic studies he sought relief painting outdoors on the weekends and during the summer. The time he spent in the countryside near Paris inspired the major plein air work Grain Fields. After returning to Utah, Evans exhibited the painting at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where it won an honorable mention.

Evans’ haystacks can be viewed as symbols of survival and self-contained efficiency. Perhaps combining a joyful American optimism and a Utah/Mormon respect for hard work and industry, Evans’ Grain Fields celebrates the fecundity of the land and rejoices in a harvest scene that was reminiscent of home.”

Excerpt taken from 150 Years of American Painting

Purchase a print of Grain Fields

May 242013
Edward Burtynsky, Manufacturing #17

Edward Burtynsky, Manufacturing #17

The Canadian photographer Edward Burtysnky transforms typical landscape photography into aesthetically-pleasing drama with an underlying, provoking environmental agenda. His images address issues of overpopulation and overproduction without making conclusions for the viewer. This ambiguity in his photographs is what makes his art instigating and exciting—it is up to the viewer to interpret the works, which in turn reveals much about their character.

In an interview with the Nevada Museum of Art ( about his series of oil field photographs spanning from California to the Middle East, Burtynsky spoke about his experiences photographing the marble quarries in Vermont. He was desperate to photograph a specific section of the quarry, and also wanted a donation of marble to make countertops in his home. Burtynsky proposed a trade: the marble and photography rights for several of his photographs printed on a generous scale. They agreed, and he rolled out several prints to show them. Burtynsky received an uncomfortable silence. Upon inquiring for a response, they laughed. “Why would anybody want one of these?” the director asked, and the rest of the workers laughed even more. The pictures of the quarry that Burtysnky showed them were, in fact, the zones in which the brilliant marble had been exhausted. To them, they were a horrible reminder that their business could no longer eradicate money from those areas, and they disliked the images because of this. About this situation, Burtynsky said, “Humans can really reveal themselves through what they choose to see as the most important or meaningful detail in an image.”

Come to the BYU Museum of Art to see the exhibition, Edward Burtynsky: The Industrial Sublime through November 18, 2013. A catalog of Burtynsky’s photographs, Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky, is available for purchase in the MOA Store.