1883 (Covington, Indiana)
1978 (Woodbury, Connecticut)
Subject to Copyright
Often Known For
mural, genre, figure, landscape
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Artists who painted Hawaii
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Eugene Francis Savage was born in Covington, Indiana 1883. He underwent
various forms of art training in the early years. He was a pupil
of The Corcoran Gallery and The Art Institute of Chicago, and was later
awarded a fellowship to study in Rome at The American Academy. |
under the spell of that ancient city the young artist began to render
historic figures that were suitable for the classic style needed for
mural painting in the traditional manor. During this period he
was able to study and observe Roman and Greek sculpture, although much
of the academic training was accomplished by using plaster casts along
with the incorporation of live models. This method survived and
was used efficiently throughout Europe and the United States.
leaving the Academy, Savage was commissioned to paint numerous murals
throughout the United States and Europe. This artist received acclaim
for the works he produced while under commissions from various
sources. This young master was a contemporary of Mexican
muralists David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974), Jose Clemente Orozco
(1883-1949) and Diego Rivera (1886-1957). In this period he was
to show the influence of his contemporaries in formulating a modern
style. Savage also played a vital role in the WPA Federal Art
program, and he was a member of The Mural Art Guild..
was elected an associate member of The National Academy of Design in
1924 and a full member in 1926. From 1947, he held a professorship at
Yale University where he taught mural painting, and some of his
students went on to significant positions.
By this time the
artist had painted large-scale murals at Columbia, Yale University,
Buffalo N.Y., Dallas, Texas, Chicago, Indiana, along with other
commissioned works. He also achieved recognition for a series of murals
commissioned by the Matson Shipping Line and completed around
1940. For this commission, Savage made many exacting studies of
customs and folkways of the Hawaiian natives. However, the
award-winning murals were not installed as planned but were put in
storage during the war years when the ships were used for troop
transportation and were in danger of attack.
However the mural
images were reproduced and distributed by the shipping company
including nine of the mural scenes that were made into lithographed
menu covers in 1948. The American Institute of Graphic Arts awarded
certificates of excellence for their graphic production, and the
Smithsonian Institute exhibited the works in 1949. Today Savages'
Hawaiian Art production is held in high regard by collectors of
In later years the artist focused his
attention on a theme that dealt with the customs and tribal traditions
of the Seminole Indians of Florida. He produced many variations of this
theme throughout his lifetime, and the pictures were usually modest
scale easel paintings, precise and carefully delineated. Many of these
pictures incorporate Surrealistic elements and show some minor
stylistic influences of the painters Kay Sage (1886-1957) and Yves
Tanguy (1900-1955). Many of Savages' artistic portrayals of Seminole
culture could be considered Dreamscapes with models and elements are
often composed in a stage-like setting.
Eugene Savage spent his remaining years in Woodbury, Connecticut, and he died peacefully in 1978.
Written and submitted October 2003 by James R. Kieley, Woodbury, CT.
Gene and Virginia Crawford, descendants of the artist
Glenn Opitz, Mantle Fielding's Dictionary
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
Daniel Mallett, Index of Artists
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