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Monday, June 9, 2014

Armin Hansen

Running Mates, 1948, Armin Hansen.
Eight Bells, ca. 1886, Winslow Homer
People who like art, know art, and especially people like myself who write about art, are forever comparing artists and their work. I suppose, in the overall scheme of things, that's good, though very often such artists may not be all that comparable. That's when we begin to contrast them often doing first one, then the other. Perhaps that's the best strategy, allowing for similarities and differences to be juxtaposed side by side in getting to know the artist involved. With that in mind, let me mention the California Impressionist, Armin Hansen, and the artist with whom he is most comparable--Winslow Homer.
Fishermen Salvaging a Wreck, ca. 1920s, Armin Hansen

Armin Hansen (photo).
His only self-portrait
was really bad.
Armin Hansen was born exactly fifty years after Homer (1886), so any similarities can easily be chalked up to Homer having influenced Hansen. Although their work is often quite similar, even to the point of Hansen's paintings being confused with Homer's, it's important to note, despite the similarities, Hansen was no Homer. Stylistically, Hansen was an American Impressionist, through and through. Although Homer seems, at times, to have flirted with Impressionist rendering, and, like Hansen, often painted outdoors, Homer was mostly what we'd term a Realist. Beyond that, Homer was far more versatile than Hansen in every respect. Like Hansen, Homer had a great love of the sea, but he was not addicted to it. Hansen seems to have painted little else. Homer's content ran from highly feminine female portraits to raucous storms at sea such as Eight Bells (above, left) painted around 1886. Notice the similarities as well as the differences.

Monterey Cypress, Armin Hansen--the community's most famous tree.
The Cowboy Spirit, ca, 1920s,
Armin Hansen
Old Fashioned Flowers,
Armin Hansen
My Worktable, Armin Hansen--a portrait
of the artist as seen by his tools.
That's not to say Hansen was not versatile. He painted a few still-lifes, such as his Old Fashioned Flowers (above, right), and My Worktable, (below, left). He painted a few Monterey (California) landscapes, including it's famous "lone Cypress" (above). Hansen's The Cowboy Spirit (above, left) is evidence of his lifelong interest in western themes. All his subjects lend themselves broadly to his Impressionist painting style. His My Worktable might even be considered unique for the insight it offers (perhaps unintentionally) to the man and his art. Hansen died in 1957. Incidentally, as witnessed by two different photos of him with a nude model, Hansen apparently painted some female nudes though, for the life of me, I could not find a single example of such work. (Homer did not paint nudes, so perhaps neither did Hansen.)

The model is Ruth Ford, and if he didn't paint her...


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