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 Arthur Hughes  (1943 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/Massachusetts      Known for: Landscape painting

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 Arthur Hughes (b. 1943)

Born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1943 I  grew up in Ojai, California, from 1947 to 1960.  Ojai attracted artists and dealers, including the ceramicist Beatrice Wood, gallerist James Vigeveno, painters Gui Ignon, Gerd & Irene Koch, Liam O'Gallagher and his companion Bob Reem, sculptor Alice DeCreeft.  These were the ones I met through my mother and with Gerd Koch and Gui Ignon,  had classes with.

In childhood my parents were also friends with the Boston realist, later Abstract Expressionist, William H. (Bill) Littlefield (1902–69).  As a four-year-old, Bill’s sizable Falmouth, Massachusetts, studio was awe-inspiring; this to me was what it meant to be an artist; he was painting my sister’s portrait.  In 1997 I took on a multi-year project of documenting the life and work of William H. Littlefield.  This has resulted in a detailed Littlefield chronology, exhibition history, and collectors’ list that also documents his relationship with Lincoln Kirstein, Monroe Wheeler, Eric Schroeder, and other participants in the homoerotic artistic underground, as well as his later years as Abstract Expressionist and secretary of The Club, the social and intellectual organization of Abstract Expressionists of the 10th Street scene..

This effort led to the Littlefield retrospective at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA  (May  – August, 2006), with companion shows at the Provincetown Art Association Museum (July  – September 2006) and the Woods Hole Historical Museum.  I participated on panels devoted to Littlefield with photographer Fred W. McDarrah and curator James Bakker.  From this exploration, I felt as if I had studied under Littlefield, after the fact.

In high school at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School (1960–62) my art teacher Malcolm Brown, like Littlefield, had been a student of Hans Hofmann in the 1940s.  In his classes, it was Hofmann technique that was taught.  In the summer after graduating, I took up landscape painting, at Malcolm Brown’s Taos home.  From then on it was landscape that was most interesting to me.

At Bard College (1962–67) my teachers were the sculptor Harvey Fite; painters Anton Refregier, John CuRoi, and  Louis Schanker; and art historian Hanna Dinehardt.  And later in Hunter College’s masters program: the minimalist sculptor Tony Smith; Abstract Expressionist Ray Parker; and art historians/curators Eugene Goosens and Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr..

But it was always the landscape and plein air experience itself, whether in California, the Southwest, or Cape Cod, that was and is the inspiration to work.

After finishing my Hunter master’s thesis, which was based on interviews with artists who had been in the John Reed Clubs in the late 1920s and early ‘30s, there seemed to be no place for painters doing what I was doing.  At the time, the linear progression of art movement was in fashion.  Pop Art, Op Art, and hard edge dominated the scene.  The rising movement against the Vietnam War and social unrest among artists seemed much more compelling, and I dove into radical politics.

At first it was with the Art Workers Coalition and an associated organization, Museum: A Project of Living Artists. “Museum,” an artists’ organization, had a loft gallery on Broadway and Waverly Place and was the site of alternative shows, art auctions benefiting the antiwar movement organized by Ivan Karp, and meetings of the Art Workers and women and Black artists’ groups.

In several of these groups I collaborated with and learned from James Gahagan, the abstract painter, Hofmann right-hand man, and teacher who was a friend until his death in 1999.

With the demise of Museum, I was involved in the antiwar movement for a time, and eventually found myself working as a marine pipefitter in the Brooklyn Navy Yard during the 1980s.  This was followed by various copy editing jobs with Pathfinder Press, Konecky & Konecky, ARTnews, Red Book, and finally the American Society of Civil Engineers.

In the mid-1990s photography became an obsession, especially large-format landscapes.  This was followed by a renewed interest in landscape painting.

Education
1970  M.A., painting and art history, Hunter College of CUNY. Written thesis, on the John Reed Club artists of the 1930s
1968  Columbia University graduate program in art
1967  B.A., painting, Bard College

Selected Exhibitions:
2006  August “Delusional Landscape”  Whitney Center, Hamden, CT
2005  April–May “Delusional Landscape” Hebrew Tabernacle, New York City
2002  “Eastern Landscapes” two-artist show with sister Kate Hughes  Rinzler   California State University–Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA
2001  “Delusional Landscape” paintings and prints, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.
1996  “Shadows after the Equinox: Cape Cod Autumn and Winter Landscapes,” landscape photographs
1995  “Cape Cod Lights,” landscape photographs
1969  “Group One,” the first show at Museum: Project of Living Artists

Collections
Nicholas Pritzker, Chicago
John & Mary Brust, New York
U.S. Embassy, Duchanbe, Tajikistan
Ethel Raim & Catherine Foster, New York
Ellen Emerson, London

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