Ben Messick’s work is ripe for rediscovery. This oil on board probably dates from the 40’s. Signed in the paint lower right corner. Wonderfully fresh and animated Yucca Valley Desert scene. 1901-1981. Estate stamped..17 x 21 / 21 x 25.
|Born near Stafford, Missouri in 1891, Benjamin Newton Messick displayed remarkable artistic talent at a very young age. After serving in France during World War I, Messick moved to California to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. He received immediate praise and recognition for his art upon enrolling in the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles in the fall of 1925. Messick returned to Chouinard in the 1940s and 1950s as one of the school’s most popular instructors.Benjamin Newton Messick painted, drew, and lithographed Americana as he found it in his hometown of Los Angeles. A native of Missouri, Messick moved to Los Angeles after serving in France in World War I to pursue a career as an artist. With humor and compassion he recorded fragments of life as it was being lived in urban Southern California – robust and earthy subjects amidst, in is own words, “the streets, parks, Main Street cafes, polo fields, and beaches.”
In the 1940s, he was a sketch artist for Disney Studios and Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and he taught at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1943 to 1951. From 1948 to 1953, he also taught classes at the San Diego School of Arts and Crafts. Messick’s vernacular observations are intended to bring to life the color and the spirit of his times. During the Depression years, he worked on a number of WPA murals in the Los Angeles area and did three murals for the United States Treasury Department in Washington DC.
Messick’s work can be divided into two distinct periods: regionalist paintings from the 1930s and ‘40s, and modernist pieces that evolved from the 1950s onward. His scene paintings reflect his passion for human nature, depicting subjects from the streets, parks and beaches in a kind, honest manner. The modernist pieces explore fantastic landscapes in a bold, dark palette with vigorous, thick brushwork.A talented draftsman, printmaker and painter, Messick’s works were featured in countless exhibitions at important museums and galleries. He received numerous awards and was often considered to be one of the foremost members of the Los Angeles art community. Despite his fine reputation, just a few years after his death Messick’s works slipped into relative obscurity.