Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jeffrey T. Larson

Jeffrey T. Larson
Minnesota artist Jeffrey Larson studied at the Atelier Lack, now simply called The Atelier, an academic studio program founded by Richard F. Lack (who will be the subject of a future post if I can ever find enough examples of his work online). Lack was a student of R.H. Ives Gammell and one of the pioneers of returning the now-thriving European atelier style system of art instruction to viability here in the U.S.

Larson’s atelier training is most evident in his still life paintings, which have the refined clarity and precision of academic realism, but keep a painterly edge.

His figures, in contrast, are much looser, usually painted out of doors, and often posed in water or amid washlines full of sunlit sheets, bringing to mind the posed in water figures of Anders Zorn and the sun-drenced paintings of beach-goers by Joaquin Sorolla.

My favorites of Larson’s paintings, though, are his landscapes (bearing in mind that most of his figurative paintings are also landscapes in effect). These force me to resort to those overused terms “fresh” and “immediate” because nothing else sums them up quite as succinctly.

His landscapes evoke the dappled sunlight on an intimate creek or the cool haze of a winter sky with beautifully efficient brush strokes and a subtle handling of color variation. He’s chosen a position on the spectrum of tight to loose rendering that I find particularly appealing.

Something I found of special interest in Larson’s work is they way he constructs the image with the direction and shape of his brushstrokes. He isn’t just dabbing color in, filling in shapes with slapdash blots of paint, he’s drawing with his brushstrokes, defining the shapes of objects in same way lines and textures applied in a drawing can follow and define the form. (This is a characteristic I particularly associate with painters like Sargent or Cecilia Beaux.)

I’m also fascinated by the apparent difference in approach between Larson’s loose landscape and figurative work and his more tightly rendered still life paintings. There is no indication of dates for the work on his site, so perhaps the still life paintings are earlier; or perhaps Larson just enjoys applying the range of his considerable abilities in a different manner for those subjects.

Larson was featured in articles in Classical Realism Journal in 2001 and American Artist in 2004 (the latter as a cover story).

Addendum: Reader A.W.C. (see this post’s comments) was kind enough to write and let us know that there is currently a solo exhibition of Jeffrey Larson’s work at Tree’s Place Gallery in Orleans, Massashusetts. In addition to an online catalog, which features several images of his work, there is a multi-page gallery of images that can be enlarged by clicking on the thumbnails.

8 thoughts on “Jeffrey T. Larson

  1. Daniel van Benthuysen Post author

    My belated compliments, Charley, on a string of fine posts, this not the least of them.

    I am struck by three things about Larson’s work: 1.) His attention to handling of translucent light, most obvious in the paintings of wash being hung to dry. 2.) His handling of reflected light: Figures back-lit in the high-contrasts of a water surface or the self-portrait in the platter above (which has a slow fuse in the viewer’s recognition but is typical of his powers of observation.) 3.) Least obvious, but just as potent is his sense of composition.

  2. mary

    i grew up in the twin cities. much of the time i’m so homesick for the place that my kidneys hurt. the larson paintings i’ve seen online aren’t helping.. :)

    thank you for telling us about this guy. i’d not heard of him — although i know like 1000 larsons.

  3. C. Russell Anderson

    On the transition from the tight still lifes, I am sure Mr. Larson enjoys the freedom of the figurative brush stroke and the lively use of color. sometimes we get trapped by our collectors on a genre that sells the best. i.e. his attelier work. I think that as an artist born in the early sixties, his creative process is changing as some artists palette change from cool dominance to warm. Let’s enjoy his journey. Wonderful artist with a lot more to say.

  4. michele norman

    I admire his work, I think he does a wonderful work with light, and I am always going to be inspired by his paintings. Joaquín Sorolla and Mary Cassatt are definitely part of his visual experience. He is a Master. Thank you for having him in your blog.

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