Butte at Red Lake, September 1927
16 x 19.75 inches
Oil on canvas board
Signed, title, and dated "Maynard Dixon / Red Lake, Ariz. Sept. 192?" (lower left)
and signed and titled (on the reverse) "Butte at Red Lake (Navajo Res. Ariz) / Maynard Dixon / 728 Montgomery St. / San Francisco
Arizona had particular importance to Maynard Dixon. He traveled there frequently, attempting to record the state's "...unbeaten mountains and unfathomable blue above." Research reveals that Dixon's first visit to Red Lake occurred in 1922. While he and his wife, photographer Dorothea Lange, passed by the small settlement in June on their way to the remote village of Kayenta. Four months later, they moved to the trading post at Red Lake. From there they explore the surrounding country on extended camping trips. It was typical of Dixon's peripatetic nature; he frequently took sojourns that lasted several months, studying, sketching and painting the vast desert landscape and its native inhabitants. At this point in his career Dixon was developing the style and approach to capturing the wide expanses of the West, as described by Don Hagerty "...--the wilderness of brilliant red Navajo sandstone and the paler Kayenta Formation, towering mesas, intricately carved canyons, cloud-swollen skies, and the silence and stillness." ("A Place of Refuge: Maynard Dixon's Arizona).
Butte at Red Lake typifies Dixon's late 1920s and early 1930s paintings of Arizona, portraying an expanse with no particular focal point; the broad, almost limitless space becoming a place for the viewer to project both fears and hopes. The mesas in the distance were sacred to the Native Americans and unknowable, perhaps, but their depiction here suggests Dixon's use of "dynamic symmetry," a mathematical approach to organizing and creating compositions that became popular in the early 20th century. Butte at Red Lake is a manifestation of what art historian Linda Gibbs calls Dixon's emotional absorption into the spaciousness of the land.
Dixon's poem "The Homeland" captures this sentiment:
The mightly West looms vast before my eyes
Wide & far & facing to the sun;-
Mesa & plain, the desert & the sown,
The endless blue, & soring angel-clouds;
And in its farthest rim I see my sould
Arise, bread-winged & free, &bec[k]on me."
Meadows, July 1927
Oil on board
16 x 20 inches
In this masterful work, Dixon conveys a timeless scene of wild horses grazing in high mountain meadows as the late afternoon sun casts shadows across the valley. This painting was the likely study for the famous work "Wild Horses of Nevada," the cover painting for the 1993 Donald Hagerty book, "Desert Dreams: The Art and Life Maynard Dixon."
Signed lower right: "Maynard Dixon, Onion Vallery, Nev. July 1927"
Also signed verso: "Maynard Dixon, 728 Montgomery Street, San Francisco"; "Meadows, Onion Valley Nev., July 1927
Dixon inventory number "356" written and circled on verso in artist's hand.
Partial Maxwell Galleries label on reverse.
This work is listed in Wesley Burnside's book as "Meadows (Nevada)" on page 170.
Cloud, March 1941
Oil on canvas on board
16 x 20 inches
signed and dated 'Maynard Dixon Ariz March 1941' (lower left)--
signed again, numbered '607' and inscribed with title (on the reverse)
Sage and Cottonwoods, September 1932
16 x 20 inches
oil on board
Signed Carson, Nev., M.D. September 1932
and signed and titled (on the reverse) "Sage and Cottonwoods"
Dixon inventory number "449" with sticker - Maynard Dixon / 728 Montgomery St. / San Francisco
By September of 1932 when this canvas was painted, Dixon had been on the road with his family for four months. It had been a rough year for the Dixon family, with few paintings selling at the height of the Depression and tensions growing between Dixon and his wife, photographer Dorothea Lange. Seemingly the only solace Dixon found was in the persistent sagebrush plants, the sturdy cottonwoods, and the homesteads that had taken shelter under the trees from the blistering sun. Perhaps better than any other painter of the American West, Dixon captured the barren beauty and quiet dignity of the high Western desert.
Snake Kiva-Oraibi, 1902
pastel on paper
11 x 8 inches
In 1902 Dixon accepted a commission for illustration work from the Santa Fe Railroad. In addition to being a source of income, it was an opportunity to retun to AZ, with which he had become enthralled on his first trip there in 1900. He accompanied photographer Frederick I. Monson in Los Angeles on his assignment to photograph the Hopi on their remote mesas.
It was, and remains, extremely rare for Anglos to be invited to reside with and observe the Hopi. Dixon spent considerable time in Hopi country, including a 1923 trip in which he convalesced for four months, living with Namoki, one of the snake priests, and his blind brother, Loma Himma. Dixon earned the trust of his Native American acquaintances and subjects through the years through showing them respect and displaying a genuine interest in their beliefs, practices, and cultures. Even though he worked an an illustrator of western subjects, he had disdain for romanticized, condescending depictions of all westerners. Here he has created an honest and admiring imaged of the Hopi village adobe architecture and ceremonial structure of the kiva.
September Shadows, 1895
10 x 12.63 inches
Sod Roofed House
Skull Springs Ore., Aug 1901
Pencil on paper
8 x 11.25 inches
Ft. Mohave, Arizona, July 1900
Pencil on paper
5.75 x 5.75 inches