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 Middleton Manigault  (1887 - 1922)

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Lived/Active: California/New York/Ontario / Canada      Known for: mod figure painting, genre-symbols, views

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BIOGRAPHY for Middleton Manigault
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Birth
1887 (London, Ontario, Canada)
 
Death
1922 (San Francisco, California)

Lived/Active
California/New York/Ontario / Canada

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mod figure painting, genre-symbols, views

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New York Armory Show of 1913
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Painter Middleton Manigault was born in Canada in 1887 and raised there, but was also associated with Charleston, South Carolina where his great-grandfather Joseph Manigault lived, building the Joseph Manigault House, which is still used by the Charleston Museum.

Middleton Manigault moved to New York as an eighteen-year-old.  Encouraged by his parents in his art pursuits, he studied with Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller, who became his friend, at the New York School of Art.  Fellow students included Edward Hopper and George Bellows.  Manigault used some of Bellows' old canvases which now have both artists' signatures on the back.

He began exhibiting in 1906 at the age of nineteen.  In 1912, he was influenced by the old masters during a European trip.  He would eventually work in several styles and media, his oil paintings varying from early stylized, decorative, pointillist-expressionist landscapes, buildings and still-lifes -- nearly visionary in conception, including religious subject matter (Christ Appearing to Mary) -- to later, more broadly painted works related to Cezanne's applications of patches of color.  He also worked with crafts and decorative arts in addition to fine art.

Manigault was a reclusive, emotionally unstable and idealistic artist searching for an art that would more intensely represent his desires for self-expression and give meaning to his life.  He suffered from chronic depression and repeated breakdowns.  He sought fulfillment of his idealism for a period of time in the utopian Oneida Community, in New York.

Toward the end of his life, in an effort to see colors more intensely, "colors not perceptible to the physical eye," he lived an ascetic lifestyle, fasting so extensively in an attempt to purify himself and achieve a better vision for his painting--that he literally died of starvation in 1922.  He was only thirty-five years old.

In this state of depression shortly before his death, he destroyed approximately two hundred of his paintings.  He had destroyed others as early as 1909.  A writer for American Art Review magazine stated that "What remains of his output clearly ranks him among the more fascinating and idiosyncratic of early Modern artists".

Manigault exhibited in the 1913 New York Armory Show.  His painting The Clown, was purchased from the exhibition by Arthur Jerome Eddy and J. Paul Getty, major avant-garde art collectors.  Manigault also showed a painting titled Adagio.

The Clown, 1912, is a frontal figure in gold-brown costume with a skull-like face white with make-up and the saddest, most hopeless expression.  He sits before a stylized, nearly brown-black forest where one of the trees has eyes like a giant owl.  A yellow sky, dark clouds and the trees the darkness of the setting -- create a disconsolate, threatening environment and atmosphere.  Some critics found this painting terrifying.

In a somewhat strange series of events, Manigault married his wife, Gertrude in April 1915, then, only two days later -- volunteered and left for service as an ambulance driver for the British in World War I in France.  Five months later, in September, the military termed him "incapacitated for further service," apparently because of a nervous breakdown resulting from a wall collapsing on him.  He was forever changed by his war experience.

Always a steady, disciplined worker, Manigault now had difficulty realizing his vision. Finishing only four paintings in 1916, he commented, "Painting is worse than war."  It was at this time, that he and Gertrude began spending summers in Colebrook, New Hampshire, at her family's vacation home, and in upstate New York, where Kenneth Hayes Miller introduced him to the Oneida Community.  They moved to Los Angeles in 1919, futilely hoping the warmer weather would help Manigault.

Near the end of his life, moving to San Francisco without his wife, the artist began the ascetic life of meditation and fasting which would kill him.  He was very thin when she last saw him, but believing he had found the way.  She described him as suffering from "the sort of unconscious bodily torture that the great sages and prophets have undergone."

Many critics praised his work during his lifetime, but Manigault's dying young, destroying his work, and not being in New York and the museums that create modernist art reputations, led to him being forgotten as an artist, though his wife and sister faithfully continued to contact galleries and museums after his death.

The Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio, which, in 1931, acquired its first Manigault, The Procession, provided the venue, in 2002, for the artist's first solo exhibition in eighty-six years.  The Procession was also the first Manigault to enter a public collection.  The Columbus Museum owns several works, including The Clown.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, has a watercolor.  The Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida has at least four Manigault paintings in its collection.

Though he explored a variety of modernist styles, Manigault had a unique vision. According to Nannette V. Maciejunes, Senior Curator of the Columbus Museum of Art, "What comes to mind when you close your eyes and think of Middleton Manigault is a lot of specific pictures, not a signature style."

The exhibition, Middleton Manigault, Visionary Modernist, was seen at the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio, January 15-March 31, 2002; Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, May 21-July 19, 2002; University Gallery, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, September 5-October 25, 2002; and Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina, November 22, 2002-March 23, 2003.

An accompanying exhibition catalogue with forty-eight color plates, published by Hollis Taggart Galleries, is the first major publication exploring Manigault's life and work.  It includes a detailed essay on Manigault's life and work by Beth Venn, former Whitney Museum of American Art curator, and a Manigault biographer who guest curated the exhibition.  The catalogue also includes essays by Nannette Maciejunes, and Angela Mack, Curator of Collection of the Gibbes Museum of Art.

Sources:
Hollis Taggart Gallery Newsletter Fall/Winter 2002
http://archives.charleston.net/pub/entertain/prefeature/12art.htm  Hughes, Edan Milton Artists in California 1786-1940


 


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Edward Middleton Manigault was born in London, Ontario, Canada on June 14, 1887.  Manigault had a mental breakdown while serving as an ambulance driver for the Canadian Expeditionary Forces during the World War.  Opting for an art career, he was a pupil of Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller in NYC.  In search of a therapeutic climate, he left NYC in 1919 and settled in Los Angeles.  As the Hindu mystics advocated, he fasted for months in an attempt to achieve a spiritual vision for his paintings.  He died of starvation while visiting in San Francisco on Aug. 31, 1922.  Due to his short lifespan, his works are rare. 

Exh: Armory Show (NYC), 1913; Columbus (OH) Museum, 2002 (retrospective).

Works held in Public Places:  Columbus Museum; Gibbes Gallery (Charleston, SC).
Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
American Art Annual 1921; SF Examiner, 9-6-1922 & Art News, 9-16-1922 (obits); American Art Review, Feb. 2002.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from Hollis Taggart Galleries (Artists, P-R):

Edward Middleton Manigault (1887–1922)

Driven by an intensely experimental nature, Edward Middleton Manigault explored the parameters of Realism, Post-Impressionism, Symbolism, and Cubism. In addition to painting, he proved to be a talented craftsman who produced ceramics, picture frames, carved wood constructions and furniture. Unlike other artists of the period whose reputations rested on a signature style, Manigault created a diverse body of work in a range of styles that reflected his visionary approach to the aesthetics of modernism. His artistic development parallels the trajectory of early American modernism and exemplifies its innovative, searching spirit.

Manigault was born in London, Ontario, on June 14, 1887, into a prominent London family. In search of formal art training, he moved to New York City in 1905 and enrolled in classes at the New York School of Art. He studied under Robert Henri, the leader of the American Realists, and Kenneth Hayes Miller, who would remain a lifelong friend and enthusiastic champion of Manigault’s work.

The dark palette of Manigault’s early paintings clearly reflects Robert Henri’s influence. These works also shared the hazy, romantic and symbolic subjects found in Miller’s work. Early in his career Manigault concentrated on depicting effects of light, time of day, and atmosphere. Under Henri’s influence, and along with his friend George Bellows, Manigault took to the streets and portrayed the rivers and parks of the city.

Manigault made a dramatic shift away from Realism by 1909 and began producing paintings in the spirit of Post-Impressionism. During next two years, which were among the most productive of his career, Manigault honed an independent style that resulted in a number of dramatic, imaginative compositions. Manigault exhibited some of them at the Haas Gallery in New York, where he had three solo shows from 1909 through 1911. Infused with Fauve chromatics, many of Manigault’s compositions at this time were created with a technique related to pointillism in which the artist juxtaposed bold patches of color to create mosaic-like effects. These energetic, vibrant paintings also drew upon decorative aspects of Eastern art.

Manigault continued to refine his modernist style and build upon qualities of Eastern art in the pictures he created around 1911. However, a palette of more somber, muted tones replaced the bright palette he had previously favored. In addition, Manigault had become far more focused on overall decorative patterning. During this period Manigault also created low-toned Symbolist-inspired paintings. His visionary landscapes populated by nudes bear a resemblance to those of Arthur B. Davies, an artist with whom Manigault was undoubtedly familiar.

Manigault’s pilgrimage to Europe in 1912 reinforced his attraction to Symbolist subjects.  He remained abroad, traveling in France and England, from June to September of that year. Manigault had not gone to train under a specific master or to study in any particular school. Rather, he spent time visiting museums and galleries where he could make copies of works by the old masters and see the work of Cézanne and other modern masters. During his travels, Manigault painted extensively in watercolor and renewed his earlier interest in architectural scenes and landscapes.

After returning from Europe, Manigault began regularly exhibiting his paintings. In 1913 Manigault had his first solo show at the Charles Daniel Gallery in New York. His association with this establishment endured for several years. 1915 marked a radical change in Manigault’s career. He married Gertrude Buffington Phillips (1886–1958) and shortly thereafter volunteered as an ambulance driver in the World War I. Manigault’s artistic output ceased while he was at the front. After only five months he was declared “incapacitated” and discharged from service.

Manigault’s war experiences precipitated a serious nervous breakdown and made returning to art an extremely difficult task. He produced only four paintings in 1916. When Manigault regrouped, he made numerous war-related paintings, most of which are now unlocated. The only known extant image directly pertaining to his military experiences is Vorticist Landscape (War Impression) (c. 1916, Curtis Galleries, Minneapolis, Minnesota) a distinctive painting that expresses the tumultuous conditions of war.

During the postwar years, Manigault worked in a wide range of styles. He was inspired by the example of American modernists including William and Marguerite Zorach, each of whom painted flat, compressed, and highly patterned compositions. Manigault also spent considerable time in upstate New York, immersed in the utopian society of the Oneida Community. Manigault also painted intensely colored still life arrangements that showcase his masterful handling of richly patterned decorative subjects. These arrangements, inspired by Oriental motifs, typically featured ceramic vases and plates that Manigault may have created during his sojourn with the Oneida Community.

In 1919 Manigault resettled in Los Angeles, California, and underwent a period of artistic renewal. He pursued craft work and produced interior design pieces, including decorative furniture, screens, and moldings. He also painted flower still lifes and landscapes, works that drew upon Cézanne’s and Renoir’s language of form and color. Manigault navigated new terrain between color and spatial relationships, and his late work displayed his awareness of the modernist innovations of Synchromists Stanton MacDonald-Wright and Morgan Russell.

Manigault attracted an impressive range of patrons including J. Paul Getty and Ferdinand Howald, noted American collector of European and American modernist art. Old friend Kenneth Hayes Miller was a leading champion of Manigault’s work, as was the modernist sculptor Elie Nadelman.

Shortly before Manigault starved himself to death in 1922, he destroyed approximately 200 of his paintings during periods of depression and hysteria. His remaining works are invaluable documents that highlight the artist’s contribution to American modernism.

Works by Manigault can be found in the collections of the Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, New York; Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio; Curtis Galleries, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Gibbes Art Museum, Charleston, South Carolina; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York; Museum of London, London, Ontario; and Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida.


Biography from Hollis Taggart Galleries (Artists, E-O):
Driven by an intensely experimental nature, Edward Middleton Manigault explored the parameters of Realism, Post-Impressionism, Symbolism, and Cubism. In addition to painting, he proved to be a talented craftsman who produced ceramics, picture frames, carved wood constructions and furniture. Unlike other artists of the period whose reputations rested on a signature style, Manigault created a diverse body of work in a range of styles that reflected his visionary approach to the aesthetics of modernism. His artistic development parallels the trajectory of early American modernism and exemplifies its innovative, searching spirit.

Manigault was born in London, Ontario, on June 14, 1887, into a prominent London family. In search of formal art training, he moved to New York City in 1905 and enrolled in classes at the New York School of Art. He studied under Robert Henri, the leader of the American Realists, and Kenneth Hayes Miller, who would remain a lifelong friend and enthusiastic champion of Manigault’s work.

The dark palette of Manigault’s early paintings clearly reflects Robert Henri’s influence. These works also shared the hazy, romantic and symbolic subjects found in Miller’s work. Early in his career Manigault concentrated on depicting effects of light, time of day, and atmosphere. Under Henri’s influence, and along with his friend George Bellows, Manigault took to the streets and portrayed the rivers and parks of the city.

Manigault made a dramatic shift away from Realism by 1909 and began producing paintings in the spirit of Post-Impressionism. During next two years, which were among the most productive of his career, Manigault honed an independent style that resulted in a number of dramatic, imaginative compositions. Manigault exhibited some of them at the Haas Gallery in New York, where he had three solo shows from 1909 through 1911. Infused with Fauve chromatics, many of Manigault’s compositions at this time were created with a technique related to pointillism in which the artist juxtaposed bold patches of color to create mosaic-like effects. These energetic, vibrant paintings also drew upon decorative aspects of Eastern art.

Manigault continued to refine his modernist style and build upon qualities of Eastern art in the pictures he created around 1911. However, a palette of more somber, muted tones replaced the bright palette he had previously favored. In addition, Manigault had become far more focused on overall decorative patterning. During this period Manigault also created low-toned Symbolist-inspired paintings. His visionary landscapes populated by nudes bear a resemblance to those of Arthur B. Davies, an artist with whom Manigault was undoubtedly familiar.

Manigault’s pilgrimage to Europe in 1912 reinforced his attraction to Symbolist subjects. He remained abroad, traveling in France and England, from June to September of that year. Manigault had not gone to train under a specific master or to study in any particular school. Rather, he spent time visiting museums and galleries where he could make copies of works by the old masters and see the work of Cézanne and other modern masters. During his travels, Manigault painted extensively in watercolor and renewed his earlier interest in architectural scenes and landscapes.

After returning from Europe, Manigault began regularly exhibiting his paintings. In 1913 Manigault had his first solo show at the Charles Daniel Gallery in New York. His association with this establishment endured for several years. 1915 marked a radical change in Manigault’s career. He married Gertrude Buffington Phillips (1886–1958) and shortly thereafter volunteered as an ambulance driver in the World War I. Manigault’s artistic output ceased while he was at the front. After only five months he was declared “incapacitated” and discharged from service.

Manigault’s war experiences precipitated a serious nervous breakdown and made returning to art an extremely difficult task. He produced only four paintings in 1916. When Manigault regrouped, he made numerous war-related paintings, most of which are now unlocated. The only known extant image directly pertaining to his military experiences is "Vorticist Landscape (War Impression)" (c. 1916, Curtis Galleries, Minneapolis, Minnesota) a distinctive painting that expresses the tumultuous conditions of war.

During the postwar years, Manigault worked in a wide range of styles. He was inspired by the example of American modernists including William and Marguerite Zorach, each of whom painted flat, compressed, and highly patterned compositions. Manigault also spent considerable time in upstate New York, immersed in the utopian society of the Oneida Community. Manigault also painted intensely colored still life arrangements that showcase his masterful handling of richly patterned decorative subjects. These arrangements, inspired by Oriental motifs, typically featured ceramic vases and plates that Manigault may have created during his sojourn with the Oneida Community.

In 1919 Manigault resettled in Los Angeles, California, and underwent a period of artistic renewal. He pursued craft work and produced interior design pieces, including decorative furniture, screens, and moldings. He also painted flower still lifes and landscapes, works that drew upon Cézanne’s and Renoir’s language of form and color. Manigault navigated new terrain between color and spatial relationships, and his late work displayed his awareness of the modernist innovations of Synchromists Stanton MacDonald-Wright and Morgan Russell.

Manigault attracted an impressive range of patrons including J. Paul Getty and Ferdinand Howald, noted American collector of European and American modernist art. Old friend Kenneth Hayes Miller was a leading champion of Manigault’s work, as was the modernist sculptor Elie Nadelman.

Shortly before Manigault starved himself to death in 1922, he destroyed approximately 200 of his paintings during periods of depression and hysteria. His remaining works are invaluable documents that highlight the artist’s contribution to American modernism.

Works by Manigault can be found in the collections of the Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, New York; Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio; Curtis Galleries, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Gibbes Art Museum, Charleston, South Carolina; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York; Museum of London, London, Ontario; and Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida.

© Copyright 2007 Hollis Taggart Galleries

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