California embodies the American desire to explore frontiers. Collected here in Paintings of California are the works of over sixty of America’s finest artists, all of whom were drawn to the beauty of California’s kaleidoscopic geography and the pioneering spirit of her people.
The more than seventy landscapes, seascapes, and cityscapes in the book are a revealing depiction of not just the changing topography, but of the creation and persistence of the myth of the American dream, too. The images depict the origins of Californians’ love affair with the sun, sky, and sea, and range from awe-inspiring renderings of giant sequoias to prophetic warnings about the cost of urbanization. Included are works by Millard Sheets, Childe Hassam, Albert Bierstadt, Granville Redmond, George Bellows, Wayne Thiebaud, and David Hockney. Accompanying this collection of masterpieces are selected writings from such prominent authors as John Muir, Henry Miller, and John Steinbeck that echo the passion of the paintings. In her introduction, Ilene Susan Fort amplifies these excerpts, exploring not just the history of California and its art, but also the unique sensibility that makes the state so continuingly seductive for explorers, tourists, and artists alike.
For the artist or the explorer, Paintings of California is an important look at the edge of the American art world, one with a beauty and a poetry to be enjoyed for years to come.