Four Artists of the Twentieth Century
by Moira Harris, Brian Szott, Ben Gessner
Prefaces by John Larkin and Colles Larkin. Introduction by Annette Atkins.
Dimensions: 12" x 9", 180 pages, 200+ color images, notes, index
THE HISTORY of Mid-Twentieth-Century Modernism in Minnesota is embodied in the work of Dewey Albinson, Cameron Booth, Clement Haupers, and Elof Wedin. Artists, teachers, and mentors, these artists had a profound impact on the region and enjoyed successful careers. All had studied outside of the region, including in Europe, absorbing Modernist advances and trends along the way. All were deeply committed to and lived in Minnesota.
They came from different circumstances, with different expressions of their visions. Haupers was born in St. Paul, Wedin in Sweden, Booth in Pennsylvania, Albinson in Minneapolis. Wedin had a day job as a skilled laborer; others taught, Haupers administered. Their works appear in museums and collections throughout the Midwest but rarely in art history texts. MINNESOTA MODERN honors and pays tribute to their unparalleled contributions to the artistic legacy of Minnesota and America at large.
About the authors:
Moira F. Harris has published twelve books on American art and popular culture. She was educated at the University of Minnesota where she earned B.A., M.A. and Ph.D degrees in art history.Her magazine articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Minnesota History, Ramsey County History, Public Art Review, and the Unesco Courier.
Brian Szott is Curator of Art and Head of Collections at the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS), overseeing a fine art collection of more than six thousand paintings, sculpture, and works on paper. Before coming to MNHS in 2003, he was Director of the MCAD Gallery at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He received Master’s Degree in Museology in the Department of Art History from the University of Minnesota.
Ben Gessner is a Collections Assistant at the Minnesota Historical Society, where he works in an outreach capacity with the American Indian and Fine Art collections. He is also the Program Coordinator for MNHS’s recently developed Native American Artist-in-Residence program. He holds a Master’s Degree in Studio Art and is the author of Stewardship, Partnerships, and Technology: Dakota Material Culture in the Minnesota Historical Society.
North Oaks News, August, 2015
Afton Press’s new publication, “Minnesota Modern: Four Artists of the Twentieth Century,” is a companion volume to the Minnesota Book Award-winning book “Pioneer Modernists: Minnesota’s First Generation of Women Artists” by Julie L’Enfant.
The book’s four chapters each profile a different Minnesota artist: Dewey Albinson, Cameron Booth, Clement Haupers and Elof Wedin.
North Oaks resident Moira (Molly) Harris wrote the chapters outlining the careers of Dewey Albinson and Cameron Booth, so this review will focus on those two chapters.
Harris writes with clarity and has found many interesting anecdotes with which to weave the stories of the artists and their works. Even non-art scholars such as myself can appreciate a well-told story, and that is what is available in abundance here. I found myself drawn into Albinson’s search for a compelling landscape subject, opting to pack his supplies in a canoe and paint from the water when the terrain prevented him from carrying materials to the site on foot.
Cameron Booth notably produced both realistic and abstract paintings. This duality alone is interesting, but Harris writes of how Booth was “an abstract painter with a sense of humor. He told one reviewer that buyers of his paintings should look on the back of them for two small arrows pointing in different directions. “If you get tired of seeing the painting hanging one way, you can just flip it part way around and have an entirely different piece” (p. 90).
The color reproductions of the paintings are stunning, and it is easy to see why these four artists were selected to be profiled in this book. Their work is varied, but the quality and talent of each artist is evident. The paintings are compelling, and it seems likely that nearly everyone perusing this book would find something they liked in at least one of these artists’ bodies of work.
This is a gorgeous book, a worthy addition to any Minnesotan’s library, regardless of whether they are an art historian. It is handsome enough to serve as a “coffee table book,” but I would recommend actually reading it rather than just flipping through to admire the paintings. The artwork really comes to life when you understand more about the people who created these pieces. Shining a light on these creative lives makes everyone who reads this book a bit richer.
Praise from MINNESOTA HISTORY magazine: