Archive for August 20, 2012

Artist of the moment…….Tonalist painter Leon Dabo….

This artist was known for his paintings of the Hudson River. His work reminds me of American tonalist Russell Chatham. Both used so many layers of grey in their skies it gives the real effect of dappled light. The artist was very gifted at capturing reflected light.  The artist also made wonderful floral works of art.

His compositions appear to be quite simple, but he was a master at capturing the vastness. Its as if he makes a small canvas appear larger by his great use of space. In many works their is little detail and little more is depicted than sky, water, or sand. Very peaceful and serene. If you enjoy this artist be sure and check out Rick Fleury, another great painter of space and the ocean.

Two other artists known for painting vast panoramic scenes would be Rackstraw Downes and Keith Jacobshagen. Both keep the horizons low in the composition and layer on many layers of light paint in their skies.

A clip of some works done by the artist set to wonderful string music.

The artist was born in 1864 in Saverne, France.  One of eight children. Had a brother named Scott who became a highly collected artist as well.

Father was a professor at university level and moved the family to Detroit, Michigan in preparation for the Franco- Prussian war in 1870. Fourteen years later his father died and the family moved to New York City. Leon found work in the architecture industry. Leon worked hard to help support the family so his brother Scott could hone his talents and become a successful artist.  Scott was thought to be the better talented artist.

Eventually Leon met a great mentor in the artist John LaFarge. With some assistance from LaFarge, Dabo was able to study in France, Germany, Italy, and England. In London, England he met James McNeill Whistler.

In 1890 he came back to the United States and was painter of murals. He then moved to painting landscapes. His work was immediately liked by the art critics in the United States but the artist was well liked in France. Once he became a success in France the artist was very successful in United States.

The artist always seemed to be at odds with his brother. Perhaps jealousy or anger at Leon’s success Scott Dabo even accused his brother of mishandling funds from Scott’s sales (Leon sometimes was his brothers agent) and even copying Scott’s style. In the end the critics loved Leon’s work more and he was able to charge more for his works.

The artist spoke several languages and was used by the French and British armies to root out spies in World War 1. After this the artist didn’t produce many works. “Materialism” was too much a part of society in the U.S. and the artist thought women could change this. Dabo spoke to more than ten different women’s groups per month.

In his later years he taught students in Connecticut as well as France. He died in 1960 aged 95 in Manhattan.

For both flowers and for landscapes this artist is one of my favorite painters. Another artist who became somewhat of an historian by studying art in different countries.

low price range:  Many pieces at auction go for less than $5,000. Medium used oils.

high price range:  43,000.  Medium used oils.

Create!

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