SAMUEL COLBURN

(American, 1909-1993)

STILL LIFE

Gouache and Watercolor on Mulberry Paper

15¼ x 19¼ Inches

Signed Lower Right, "Mallory" and Dated 1975

 

A powerful, late work by this well-listed American regionalist and long-time member of the Carmel Art Association who studied at the Chouinard Institute and, later with Fernand Leger. Colburn exhibited widely and with success, including with solo exhibitions at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Lucien Labaudt Gallery.

 

While most American Regionalists adhered to the tenets of Realism, Colburn liked to experiment with the lessons of modernism. Like the East Coast modernist John Marin, a major influence, Colburn continually searched for a direct freedom of expression. The San Francisco critic Alfred Frankenstein credited Colburn with a sense of drama and "..as fine an eye for the subtleties of watercolor as this country has produced since Marin's heyday."

 

Colburn grew up in Glendale and Long Beach and studied geology at the University of Southern California. After graduating in 1932 he spent a year in Europe traveling and studying art. Upon his return to Los Angeles, he studied with Don Graham at Chouinard Art Institute. In 1937 he moved to Carmel, where he became a member of the Carmel Art Association (1940). The Monterey Peninsula provided the perfect cultural climate for the development of Colburn's art. At the time, the prominent artists Armin Hansen, William Ritschel, Paul Whitman, August Gay, and Louis Siegriest were present in the area and provided valuable friendship and advice; the writer John Steinbeck, poet Robinson Jeffers and photographers Edward Weston and Ansel Adams were also close friends.

 

Salvador Dalí, who lived in Pebble Beach during the 1940s, attracted other important European modernists to the area including Fernand Leger, with whom Colburn studied in 1941. Colburn's portrait of Jeffers is on the cover of the 1963 Vintage paperback edition of 'Robinson Jeffers: Selected Poems'. Colburn was an active member of the artistic community, teaching, writing art criticism for The Carmel Pine Cone, executing public murals, and exhibiting in galleries and museums throughout California, Colorado, and New York.

 

Colburn gained his substantial reputation as a watercolorist and for his early paintings of the Monterey Peninsula in Northern California. He depicted the fisherman and the activities around the wharf and the canneries, as well as the hills and farm buildings around Salinas and Carmel Valley at the time his friend, John Steinbeck, was immortalizing them in his novels.

 

(With thanks to Bolton Colburn)

 

Reference:

Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America, Peter Hastings Falk, Sound View Press 1999, Vol. 1, p. 688; Artists in California 1786-1940, Third Edition, Edan Milton Hughes: Crocker Art Museum, Sheridan Books 2002, Vol. 1, p. 229; Davenport’s Art Reference 2009/10 Edition, LTB Gordonsart, Inc. 2008, p. 586; et al.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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