Artist Search
   
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z 

 Ben (Benjamin Newton) Messick  (1891 - 1981)

About
 

Summary

Examples of his work

 
 

Quick facts

Exhibits - current  
 

Biography*

Museums

 
 

Book references

Magazine references pre-2007  
 

Discussion board

Signature Examples*

 
 
Buy and Sell: Ben (Benjamin Newton) Messick
  For sale ads

Auction results*

 
 

Wanted ads

Auctions upcoming for him*  
 

Dealers

Auction sales graphs*

 
 

What's my art worth?

Magazine ads pre-1998*

 
 

Market Alert - Free

 
Lived/Active: California/Missouri      Known for: regionalist painting, lithographs, teaching

Login for full access
 
View AskART Services









*may require subscription
BIOGRAPHY for Ben Messick
Facts/Data
Birth
1891 (Stafford, Missouri)
 
Death
1981 (Apple Valley, California)

Lived/Active
California/Missouri


Photo source Ben Messick Book


Often Known For
regionalist painting, lithographs, teaching

Discussion Board
Would you like to discuss this artist?
AskART Discussion Boards
(1 Active)


Categories of Interest

The California Art Club
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is submitted by Jim Lafferty whose sources include the autobiography of the artist:

William Washington Messick married Sarah A. Bristow January 2,1889 and from this marriage a son, Benjamin Newton Messick was born on January 9, 1891 on a farm near Strafford, Missouri.  His art talent was apparent from the time he was a child and later recognized by his commanding officer in World War I.

Little is recorded in his autobiography about Messick's life from his teen years and service during the War.  He enrolled at Chouinard Institute in the Fall of 1925, and was given a three-year scholarship by Mrs. Chouinard.  In 1925 he won a cash award at the Los Angeles County Fair for a group of pen and charcoal drawings done in the parks and streets of Los Angeles.  These works give the appearance of being spontaneous and fluid.

In 1930 Messick left Chouinard as a full-time student and rented an apartment on West Eighth Street to use as a studio and living quarters.  He had his own ideas on what he was trying to accomplish in art.  "If you should ask what is the message of my drawings, I should say that they may explain themselves or may be just a technical exercise."

By the mid 1940s, Messick's position in the art world had been well established as a teacher, painter, printmaker, writer and critic.  Over his life time he had over 400 shows and exhibitions.  Starting in 1939 he produced a number of stone lithographs that appear to the untrained eye as original drawings.  To Messick the image was the most important aspect of his lithographs, and his signature in the plate was sufficient.  Hand signing each lithograph did not seem necessary to him.  He exhibited prints widely including the Albany Print Club and the Metropolitian Museum.

To further substantiate the authenticity of Messick's prints the Eclectic Gallery under the authority of the Messick family posthumously pencil signed each estate-acquired stone lithograph.

Messick had a childhood fascination with the circus and started drawing and painting the circus in 1935.  His circus work, especially his clown studies, and his lithographs became his trademark work for in the 1940s and 1950s.  A critic for ART REVIEW described his Big Top work this way: "His circus canvases, however, are his most interesting and show where Messick's interest lies. His clown portraits are worthy of time and study because of the endless change he has caught in each face and for the underlying character that shines through the grotesque paint."

As early as 1941, paintings by Messick were exhibiting elements of modernism in that his brush work was less labored and the style more expressionist.  They often incorporated a degree of mysticism. This is evident in a series of clown portraits he did on tear-off palette paper.  He called these works his Serendipity paintings.

Note:
In art reference literature the artist's birth year is often quoted as 1901. He apparently had made up this date when he was in art school and a lot older than his classmates. Velma Messick discovered the truth when she saw his driver's licence.

Biography from California Watercolor:
Ben Messick
Born: Strafford, MO; Studied: Chouinard Art Institute* (Los Angeles); Member: California Art Club*.

Ben Messick was born in the Ozarks and spent his childhood there. When he was sixteen, he joined the armed forces and was sent to the European battle front.  After recuperating from his wartime experiences, he moved to Los Angeles and studied with F. Tolles Chamberlin, Clarence Hinkle and Pruett Carter.

By the mid-1930s, he had developed his own style of painting and became known as one of the West Coast’s key Regionalist* artists.  While Messick was an extremely competent watercolorist, these works were not exhibited frequently and did not receive the attention given to his oils on canvas.  During the 1940s and early 1950s, he taught life drawing at the Chouinard Art Institute and the San Diego School of Arts and Crafts. He was also an instructor at the Messick-Hay Studio in Long Beach. In addition, he produced and exhibited lithographic prints.

Biographical information:
Interview with Velma Messick, 1983.

Biography courtesy of California Watercolors 1850-1970,
©2002 Hillcrest Press, Inc.

CaliforniaWatercolor.com

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx



Biography from Cline Fine Art:
Benjamin Newton Messick, known as "the American Daumier," painted, drew, and lithographed Americana as he found it in his hometown of Los Angeles. A native of Missouri, Messick served in France in World War I and then  moved to Los Angeles 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.  His work has been widely exhibited and is included in such collections as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Laguna Art Museum, and the Springfield Museum of Art in Missouri.

Source:
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
Cline Fine Art files


** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.

  go to top home | site map | site terms | AskART services & subscriptions | contact | about us
  copyright © 2000-2014 AskART all rights reserved ® AskART and Artists' Bluebook are registered trademarks

  A |  B |  C |  D-E |  F-G |  H |  I-K |  L |  M |  N-P |  Q-R |  S |  T-V |  W-Z  
  frequently searched artists 1, 2, more...  
  art appraisals, art for sale, auction records, misc artists