1899 (Oakland, California)
1989 (Oakland, California)
Often Known For
modernist landscape, illustrator
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Categories of Interest
Impressionists Pre 1940
Society of Six
Taos Pre 1940
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|A commercial artist and fine-art painter whose styles ranged from
Impressionism, Fauvism to Mixed-Media Abstraction, Louis Siegriest had
a long, distinguished career including association in the 1920s with a
California Bay Area group called the Society of Six. Members
rebelled against the prevalent sombre Tonalism of William Keith and the
genteel Classicism of Arthur Mathews. |
He was born to a father
who drove the first horse-drawn streetcars in Oakland and then made a
fortune in the heating oil business with acetylene gas machines for
gaslights. Louis lived his entire life in the family mansion
where he was born in north Oakland and later raised his own family
including a son, Lundy, who became a well-known artist.
parents encouraged his talents, and at age fifteen, he enrolled at
night in the California School of Arts and Crafts while attending high
school during the day. His early interest was cartooning, and he
won a San Francisco Chronicle comic strip contest.
good friend and classmate at the Arts and Crafts School was Bernard von
Eichman, and together they attended the California School of Fine Arts
on Nob Hill in San Francisco to study with Frank Van Sloun. The
boys later followed Van Sloun to his own school and studied with him
until 1919 when he left for New York. Unlike other art teachers in that
area, Van Sloun was of the Robert Henri, New York social-realist
philosophy that artists had to listen to their own instincts and paint
what seemed relevant to their lives, not what was fashionable in Europe.
was fascinated by billboards and got a job with Foster and Kleiser, the
biggest outdoor advertising firm in San Francisco. In his work
there he developed a bold, realist, and simple style. But this
commercial art venture did not seem to affect his fine art, which from
the beginning was modernist with an undercurrent of playfulness and
energy and experimentation with perspective and shapes.
1917, he began his association with the Society of Six led by Selden
Gile and included William Clapp, Bernard von Eichman, Maurice Logan,
and August Gay. The group, based in Oakland, focused on California
scene subject matter, aggressive use of color, and a freedom of style
rooted in Impressionism.
In the 1920s, while continuing this
Society of Six association, he also did commercial art assignments in
Seattle, Dallas, Chicago, and Milwaukee as well as for the San Francisco Chronicle.
him, the 1930s Depression years were a time when he traveled in the
Midwest and further East, and his palette darkened with industrial
themes. But he also discovered Taos, New Mexico where he did
about one-hundred brush drawings on typewriter paper. Unknown at
the time was that his young son, Lundy, was making paper airplanes out
of them and tossing them out of the car.
California, he worked in advertising for Maurice Logan and did poster
work for the WPA. In 1945, he became a full-time fine artist and
from 1948 to 1951 taught at the Art Students League of San
Francisco. Poor eyesight caused him to stop painting in the 1970s.
work is in the collections of the Oakland Museum, Stanford University
Museum, and the University of Nevada, which houses several hundred of
his paintings of Virginia City.
Nancy Boas, Society of Six
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
|Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Beverly Hills:|
|Louis Siegrist was a native of California, born in Oakland in
1899. Siegriest studied at the local California College of Arts
and Crafts, as well as at the California School of Fine Art in San
Francisco. As a young man he fell in to the painting group that
would be known as the “Society of Six," a group of painters who
rebelled against the somber tones prevalent in California art,
preferring the palette of the French Fauvists. |
The Six actively exhibited in Oakland through the 1920’s before
disbanding. Unlike other members of the Six, Siegriest came from
a very wealthy family. He lived in his family’s mansion
throughout his life, raising his own children there. He found
occasional commercial work in the 20’s and 30’s, and taught at the San
Francisco Art Students League from 1948-1951. In the later years of his
life, his failing eyesight forced him to give up painting.
He died in Oakland in 1989.
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