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Rex Brandt

 (1914 - 2000)
Rex Elson (Rexford) Brandt was active/lived in California.  Rex Brandt is known for landscape and marine easel painting, illustration, mural.

Rex Brandt

Biography from the Archives of askART

Born in San Diego, Rex Brandt was a painter of broad, splashy, cubist watercolors and became a foremost leader of California artists who brought national attention to California artists in the 1930s and 1940s.  Also as a teacher, he influenced countless numbers of students to become skilled in watercolor.

Brandt grew up in San Diego and Riverside, and first attended Chouinard Art Institute at age 13.  He also studied art at Riverdale Junior College and the University of California at Berkeley where his interest in abstraction began due to the pervasive influence there of Hans Hofmann, Abstract Expressionist.

In 1937, he and Lawson Cooper organized "The California Group," a traveling watercolor exhibition that developed interest in the California style of watercolor.  In 1947, he and Phil Dike opened a summer school of painting in Corona del Mar, California. He married artist Joan Irving.

He died on March 21, 2000 at Corona del Mar, having painted nearly to the end of his life time.

Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Gordon McClelland and Jay Last, The California Style

Biography from American Eagle Fine Art
Internationally-known watercolorist Rex Brandt who had a home on Shaw Island for many years, died of a heart attack in his Corona del Mar, Calif., home March 21.  He was 85.  Westways magazine called Brandt "one of the central figures in California Art in the mid-20th century."  E. Gene Crain, the foremost collector of Brandt's paintings, said "they are as good as any work in a water-based medium that has ever been painted anywhere at any time."

Rexford Brandt was born in San Diego on Sept. 12, 1914.  He received his bachelor's degree at the University of California Berkeley campus, and did graduate work at Stanford University.  Brandt and his wife, artist-sculptor Joan Irving, shared their home, "Blue Sky," at Corona del Mar with hundreds of students over the years, conducting workshops not only in California but in the Northwest - at La Conner, Orcas Island and San Juan Island.  The Brandts established a second home on Shaw Island, where they are remembered by their many friends.  "No way are we able to find words to describe how much Rex and Joan Brandt enhanced the lives of all who knew them on Shaw," Jerry Griffing wrote. "They donated time and money and works of art to our library and community club.  They were such good neighbors, working, sketching, sailing, picnicking, and sharing the joys of nature and island life. " After Joan died in 1995, Rex never returned to visit our island. It is hard to think of one without the other."

The Brandts were guest instructors at the University of Southern California, the University of Vermont, the Chouinard Institute and at painting classes in Spain, Italy, France and Mexico, as well as many in the United States.  Brandt was a prolific writer and published more than 11 books including, Watercolor Landscape and Watercolor Technique, The Artist's Sketchbook and Its Uses, and The Winning Ways of Watercolor. In the words of this enthusiastic teacher and mentor: "It's a good feeling, painting at my easel outdoors.  Dry grasses rustle.  Smells drift like wisps of smoke.  The earth pushes against my shoes.  The sun burns the tops of my ears."  His students who were privileged to share his talent, his wit, wisdom and experience filled their sketchbooks with lectures and anecdotes and splashed color with new awareness, following his happy admonitions, "Paint from your knees! Paint from your toes!"

Brandt is survived by his daughters, Joan Scarboro and Shelley Walker; sons-in-law, Clark and Sam; grandchildren, Sid and Zoe Scarboro, Joe, Chris and Mimi Walker; and great-grandchildren, Sammy Walker, Jackson and Henry Pappin and Brandt Robert Fisher.  Memorial contributions are suggested for the Nature Conservancy or the San Juan Preservation Trust.

Biography from
Biography provided courtesy of "California Watercolors 1850-1970" By Gordon T. McClelland and Jay T. Last.

Rex Brandt, N.A. (1914-2000)...Born: San Diego, CA

Studied: Chouinard Art Institute (Los Angeles), University of California (Berkeley)

Member: National Academy of Design, American Watercolor Society, California Water Color Society, Philadelphia Water Color Club.

Rex Brandt was a native Californian artist. He was raised in Southern California and in 1928, while still attending junior high school, began studying art at the Chouinard Art Institute. After a few years at Riverside Junior College, he continued his art education at the University of California (Berkeley), studying with John Haley.

By the time he returned to Southern California, the core group of California watercolor artists was already forming. Although Brandt was still quite young, the more established artists immediately recognized his artistic talent and readily accepted him into the group. Within a few years he was winning awards from art shows throughout Western America.

For a brief period, he was involved with the P.WPA. Art Project and in 1939 was selected as one of the premier California watercolorists to exhibit in the New York World's Fair art exhibition, American Art Today. In the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s he refined his skills and developed the style of painting which would bring him international recognition.

Teaching art was also an important aspect of Brandt's career. In the early 1940s, he promoted watercolor workshops in San Diego. After World War 11, he and Phil Dike formed the Brandt-Dike Summer School of Painting in Corona del Mar. This became one of the most successful watercolor schools in California during the 1950s era. From 1947 to 1952, he taught watercolor painting and composition classes at the Chouinard Art Institute. Through these classes and his eleven instructional books on watercolor painting, Brandt educated and inspired a large number of professional watercolor artists.

In addition, he has produced murals, made six educational films and painted a number of architectural renderings. His watercolors have been printed on a variety of magazine covers and his story illustrations have appeared in Fortune, Life and Westways magazines. He was president of the California Water Color Society in 1948 and is considered one of the most important and influential California watercolor artists.

Biographical information:

Interview with Rex Brandt, 1983.

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About  Rex Brandt

Born:  1914 - San Diego, California
Died:   2000 - Corona del Mar, California
Known for:  landscape and marine easel painting, illustration, mural

Essays referring to
Rex Brandt

Painters of Grand Canyon