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Edwin Dickinson (1891-1978)


Edwin Dickinson (October 11, 1891–December 1, 1978) was an American painter and draftsman known for his psychologically charged self-portraits and landscapes. His art, always grounded in realism, shows connections to symbolism and surrealism.

Dickinson was born and raised in upstate New York, in the Finger Lakes area; His family moved to Buffalo in 1897. Dickinson had youthful ambitions for a career in the Navy, but he failed the Navy entrance exam twice (though he later served as a radio operator during World War I). Both of these themes from his early life would feature in his later work.

His mature work can be roughly divided into two categories. The first consists of portraits, still lifes and landscapes executed quickly, often at a single sitting (the artist referred to these as premiere coups), and the second is comprised of compositions of symbolic and enigmatic character, often large in size and very complex, which sometimes took many years to complete. While his palette tended towards monochrome, his landscapes painted from observation are notable for their strong evocation of light, which is usually hazy but sometimes brilliant.

Edwin Dickinson

Self-Portrait, 1954
Oil on canvas
26 1/4 x 24 3/8 in. (66.6 x 61.8 cm.)




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