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 Frank William Cuprien  (1871 - 1948)

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Lived/Active: California/New York / Germany      Known for: seascape, landscape and coastal view painting

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Ad Code: 2
Frank William Cuprien
from Auction House Records.
End of a Perfect Day
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A resident of Southern California from 1912, Frank Cuprien lived and painted primarily at Laguna Beach where he became known for seascapes and coastal scenes with dramatic lighting effects.

He was also a musician, and from his home, known as the "Viking" overlooking the ocean, he had many piano recitals and art exhibitions. He was a member of the California Art Club and President of the Laguna Beach Art Association. His work is in the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Source: Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"

Biography from William R Talbot Fine Art:
"Frank Cuprien arrived in Laguna in 1912, where, according to his recollections, he had 'come to spend a day in the village of which I had heard so much. Reports of its charm had not been exaggerated, I decided that day.'" (Deborah Epstein Solon)

Cuprien settled in Laguna Beach, California, joining the artists community there in its early period and becoming an important figure in its development. Cuprien eventually built a home and studio on a coastal cliff, and called it “The Viking.” The studio offered a commanding view of the Pacific Ocean, which was to become the principal subject of his paintings for the rest of his life.

While the trend in California plein air painting of the period was toward Impressionism, Cuprien at first embraced a realist approach and a subdued Tonalist palette, following his admiration for the marine painter William Trost Richards. In time, the vibrant light of California affected his use of color, and his mastery of his medium led to a loosening of his bush work. As Laguna Beach became famous as a destination for artists and art lovers, Cuprien’s work became synonymous with its allure.

Frank William Cuprien (1871–1948) was born in Brooklyn, New York and began his education in art at the Art Students League and the Cooper Union Institute before studying with Carl Weber in Philadelphia. He subsequently studied music in Paris and the Royal Conservatories in Munich and Leipzig, from which he graduated in 1905. After returning to the U.S., Cuprien taught art for five years at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

He lived briefly in Catalina before moving to Laguna Beach. His home became a gathering place for local artists and musicians, where he would sometimes entertain with his piano playing. Cuprien was a founding member of the Laguna Beach Art Association and served as its president from 1921 to 1922. 

The Association’s work included the establishment of a public venue to exhibit and sell artworks. At first, the Association installed themselves in an abandoned community house that was known simply as the Gallery.  In the 1920s, a larger building was obtained which eventually became the Laguna Art Museum, endowed in part by the Cuprien estate.

Cuprien’s artworks are part of a number of important collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, the Orange County Museum of Art, the Irvine Museum, the Laguna Beach Museum of Art, and the del Vecchio Gallery in Leipzig.

Refs: Samuel Armor, History of Orange County (1921), p. 794; Emily Neff, The Modern West: American Landscapes, 1890-1950 (2006) p. 116–119; Deborah Epstein Solon, “What Made Laguna Beach Special,” Art Colonies and American Impressionism (1999); Jean Stern, “Artists in Santa Catalina Island Before 1945,” Enchanted Isle: A History of Plein Air Painting in Santa Catalina Island, p.4.

Biography from Lawrence Beebe Fine Art:
Frank Cuprien was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 23, 1871. His art studies took him to the Art Students' League of New York and the Cooper Institute of New York, he trained under William Trost Richards, in Philadelphia.

Seeking a mild climate and an inspirational landscape, Cuprien moved to California in 1910. Cuprien earned his reputation as a distinguished seascape painter while residing in the communities of Laguna Beach, Los Angeles and Catalina Island, California. He was a member of the California Art Club, Laguna Beach Art Association and the American Federation of Arts.

He received the Gold Medal award at the Berliner Ausstellung, the Silver Medal at the San Diego Exposition, 1915-1916 and the Bronze Medal at the California State Fair, 1918.

Frank Cuprien became known for his opalescent seacapes, a critic noted, "Cuprien loves to paint the slow incoming tide with a subdued illumination of the sun, or the softness of the afterglow on the ocean". His paintings can be found in the Laguna Beach Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Bowers Museum of Santa Ana, California. Frank Cuprien died in Laguna Beach, California on June 21, 1948.

Biography from Edenhurst Gallery (Artists A to L):
Frank Cuprien is one of Southern California's most well known painters of the coast. His poetically soft and colorful images of the Laguna Coast at sunset have brought to him the most notoriety with collectors and scholars.

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1871, he began his studies there and at the Art Students League and the Cooper Institute.  Later he followed his studies in Philadelphia. For a time he pursued a simultaneous career in music and studied in Munich and Paris. The turn of the twentieth century found him in Texas, and ever moving westward, eventually settled in southern California, lured by the legendarily beautiful scenery he aimed to capture in his canvases.

Briefly staying on Catalina Island, he eventually settled in Laguna where he was to remain for the rest of his life. He led a rather bohemian lifestyle and his home overlooking the ocean became a gathering place for the early painters and musicians of the new art colony.  He died in 1948, leaving a poetic legacy on canvas of the coastal waters off the beaches of southern California.

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Beverly Hills:
Frank Cuprien was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1871. He began his studies at the Art Students League in New York, and continued at Cooper Union, Paris, Munich, and Leipzig.

Upon his return to the States, Cuprien taught at Baylor University in Texas for 5 years before moving on to California, settling in Laguna Beach. While in Southern California, Cuprien devoted himself to coastal paintings, for which he is best known.

Cuprien was a popular figure. His home/studio above the beach was a gathering spot for local artists. Upon his death in 1948, Cuprien bequeathed his estate to the Laguna Beach Art Association.

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Frank Cuprien is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
The California Art Club

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