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Edgar Ewing

(1913-2006)

American Modernist: Classical Revival & New Forms

by Jaimie Lilienstein

Although productive and powerful throughout his sixty-year career, the artist’s period of greatest prominence extended from the mid 1940s to the early 1970s. His output during this time is characterized by strong Post-Cubist tendencies gleaned from the Paris School. Ewing’s career was impressive by any standard. In addition to over thirty solo exhibitions at museums and galleries, Ewing was featured in survey shows at nearly every major American museum. Sullivan Goss is pleased to present the Estate of the Artist.




Table of Contents

I. BIOGRAPHY

Edgar Louis Ewing was born in Hartington, Nebraska in 1913. Ewing began his career at the age of 18, as a student of painting and drawing at the Art Institute of Chicago under Boris Ansfels. Right away, Ewing had a deep personal philosophy for his art career. Ewing’s success lead him the Edward L. Ryerson Fellowship for Foreign Travel and Study upon graduation in 1935.

After his studies in Europe, Ewing returned to Chicago to become a member of the faculty of the Art Institute of Chicago and later educator of the Arts at the University of Southern California. The University of Chicago was one of his first teaching stints, though interims were spent at Oregon as well as Michigan Universities. Years later Ewing goes on to teach at the University of Southern California, where he remained for numerous years. Throughout his entire career as an educator, he remained a highly productive artist. Ewing became the recipient of a myriad of awards and recognitions for his solo as well as group exhibitions.

Ewing embraced his double career of artist and educator and was equally devoted to each passion.

At the age of 30, WWII erupts and Ewing offers himself as a member of the Corps of Engineers attached to CPIC-RAF. Specifically, he serves for the Southeast Asia command in China, Burma, India Theatre, in the Philippines and Japan. While away, Ewing’s work is featured in Group exhibitions affiliated with The Art Institute of Chicago. He returned to the United States after three years and resumed his careers as artist and educator. With 11 years at the University of Southern California, Ewing goes on sabbatical to journey throughout Europe. Specifically, England, France, Italy, Switzerland and Greece. Ewing especially develops an innermost desire for Greece and spends lengthy intervals in the country.

In 1964, Ewing goes on leave again from University of Southern California and becomes an artist in residence at the American Academy in Rome. In this time he allows for inspiration from travels across Europe as well as Asia; in Portugal, Spain, England, Holland, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, India, Thailand, Hong Kong and Japan. In 1967 he receives the Jose Drudis Foundation Grant which allowed for his work in Greece. At the same time his work is shown at the prestigious Esther Bear Gallery in Santa Barbara, California. From 1968 through 1969 Ewing becomes awarded The Andrew Mellon Chair at the Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1972 he continues his work as Professor at University of Southern and as well as spending summers in his Athens studio. His strong impact in the Los Angeles Art community leads him to win the Los Angeles Library Association Eighth Annual. His continuous travels to Greece allow for series works based on his travels (i.e. Greek Wedding Series 1973, which is featured at the prestigious National Gallery in Athens as well as the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery the year later).

II. SGTV Video

"Edgar Ewing: The Later Works"
Written and Narrated by Jeremy Tessmer
Produced by Nathan Vonk

This video highlights Ewing's life and work. An exhibit and sale of later paintings by Ewing opened on July 2nd, 2009.

To watch this video click on the image to the left.




POSTER FROM ONE OF EWING'S SOLO EXHIBITIONS AT ESTHER BEAR GALLERY
1967

Ewing was a nationally recognized painter when Santa Barbara dealer, Esther Bear, gave him a solo show. The iconic figurative shape in the foreground was lifted directly out of "Metamorphosis, Shadows in the Meteora."

III. ANALYSIS OF THE ARTIST'S WORK

Irving Stone, a close friend recalls how Ewing’s’ work has gone through a gradual transformation and maturity through each passing year. Ewing notes What is painted today is conditioned by experience today but tomorrow is another story. From an early age Edgar Ewing had wanted to be a painter, nothing more. To that account, he only views the world through his painter’s eyes. Ewing’s prolific career has been on the basis of three ideals: 1. Paint what you see, 2. Paint what you know about what you think you have seen; and 3. Paint a metaphor of what you think you know about what you have seen. He believes that these three ideas convey with nature and the reality of the experience as well as his experience with canvas and paint. When a piece is completed by Ewing, he admits the piece needs no further explanation from the painter instead the piece can go on to live its’ own life over a period of time. Frederick W. Sleight, executive Director at the Palm Springs Desert Museum in 1976 recalls how Ewing had an intensive look into the reality of things and deep reflection on the essence of his subjects. Edgar Ewing is noted for his more than 30 series of paintings on subjects such as Bryce Canyon, Las Vegas and, most extensively, Greece. Much like the shards of ancient pottery that show only pieces of the mythological story, in the Greek series of paintings Ewing pieced together fragments of color and shapes to create his own story of Greece. He used a highly classical subject matter to create distinctly modern compositions, fusing past and present. Ewing admitted to being influenced by the style and color of modern French painting and yet applied his unique vision to every canvas and sculpture.

There is no direct classification of Ewing’s work, though most subsequently it is identified with post cubist tendencies. Ewing admits, No one has taught us more about the subject of structure, while keeping intact the unity of content, than the Cubists.



METAMORPHOSIS, SHADOWS IN THE METEORA
1964
60 x 70 inches
oil on canvas
Available for acquisition

Ewing's largest painting acquired by the gallery outside of the estate, Metamorphosis treats a Greek hilltop city as a geometric puzzle, a face, and an abstract composition. The pentimento in this work is particularly seductive and Ewing's trademark draughtsmanship works to spectacular effect in the creases and crags of the mountain.

IV. SOLO EXHIBITIONS

  • 1946 Syracuse University Gallery, Syracuse, NY
  • 1946 Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH
  • 1946 University of Southern Calif, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1947 Pepsi Cola Galleyr, New York, NY
  • 1948 Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
  • 1948 M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco
  • 1949 Palos Verdes Gallery, Palos Verdes, CA
  • 1949 College of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA
  • 1950 University of Redlans, Redlands, CA
  • 1952 Pasadena Art Institute, Pasadena, CA
  • 1952 Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1953 College of the Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA
  • 1954 Dalzell Hatfield Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1955 Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
  • 1955 M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA
  • 1955 Ruthermore Galleries, San Francisco, CA
  • 1955 Carniege Institute of Technology, Pittsburg, PA
  • 1956 Hewlett Gallery, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg,PA
  • 1956 Dalzell Hatfield Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1958 Dalzell Hatfield Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1960 Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
  • 1961 Dalzell Hatfield Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1963 Dalzell Hatfield Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1965 Dalzell Hatfield Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1967 Esther Bear Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1969 Hewlett Gallery, Carnegie-Mellon, Pittsburg, PA
  • 1971 Esther Bear Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1973 National Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • 1974 Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1976 Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA
  • 1978 University Gallery, Univ. of Southern California
  • 1993 Fisher Gallery University of Southern Calif.
  • 2006 Sullivan Goss-An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
  • V. AWARDS

  • 1935 Edward L. Ryerson Fellowship for Foreign Travel-$2,500
  • 1943 Berthe Aberle Floresheim Memorial Prize
  • 1947 Pepsi Cola Regional Award, New York, NY
  • 1948 Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant, New York, NY-$1,000
  • 1948 Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant, New York City, for oil painting-$1000
  • 1949 Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant-$1,000
  • 1950 First Prize for Oil Painting, 25th Arizona State Fair Exhibition, Phoenix, AZ-$350
  • 1951 First Award for Oil Painting, Chaffey Community Art Association-$250
  • 1952 Ada Kilpatrick Purchase Prize, California Watercolor Society, De Young Museum, San Francisco-$150
  • 1952 First Purchase Prize, Los Angeles Artists and Vicinity, LACMA, CA-$1000
  • 1953 First Purchase Prize, Eighth Annual Newport Harbor Exhibition
  • 1953 Second Prize for Oil Painting, National Orange Show
  • 1955 Calif. Artists Purchase Prize, Long Beach Museum, 35th National Exhibition the Calif. Watercolor Society
  • 1956 First Purchase Award for Oil Painting, the California State Fair, Sacramento, CA-$600
  • 1957 Second Prize for Oil, San Jose Centennial Exhibition
  • 1957 First Purchase Prize for Oil, Sierra Madre Art Association-$400
  • 1957 Samuel Goldwyn Award, Los Angeles Artists and Vicinity, LACMA, CA
  • 1962 Ahmanson Purchase Award, City of Los Angeles Exhibition-$1500
  • 1964 First Award for Sculpture, Laguna Beach Museum, CA
  • 1967 Jose Drudis Foundation Grant-$1500


  • THE STADIO (from the Roman Series)
    41 x 53 inches
    oil on canvas
    Collection of the Fisher Gallery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles (Gift of the Artist)

    VI. COLLECTIONS

  • Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH
  • Los Angels County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
  • Santa Barbara, Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
  • San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA
  • Sheldon Memorial Art Library, Lincoln, NE
  • University of Southern California, Fisher Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • University of Syracuse, Syracuse, NY
  • VII. BIBLIOGRAPHY

    1. 1. Bear, Esther. Edgar Ewing Catalog. Esther Bear Gallery. Santa Barbara, California.
    2. 2. Ewing, Edgar. The Roman Series. Dalzell Hatfield Galleries, Ambassador Hotel. Los Angeles, California. March 20 – April 17, 1964.
    3. 3. Gilmore, Jack G. Ewing Catalog. Ruthermore Galleries. San Francisco, California. October 1 – 31.
    4. 4. Karlstrom, Paul J. Archives of American Art Journal, 1997 (Volume 37 Numbers 3 and 4) P. 48. Smithsonian Institution,Washington, DC.
    5. 5. Langs, Jules. Ewing and Johnston. Art News. February 1952.
    6. 6. Ross, Kenneth & Ewing, Edgar. Wedding Series: Edgar Ewing. Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Park Catalog. January 30 - March 3 1974.
    7. 7. Stone, Irving & Ewing, Edgar. Wedding Series: Edgar Ewing. National Gallery, Athens, Greece. January 1973.
    8. 8. Topping, Norman. Sixth Annual Academic Honors Convocation catalog. University of Southern California. Los Angeles, California. March 10, 1987.

    Previous | Next
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    Metamorphosis, Shadows in the Meteora
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    Multi-figured dreams and Hallucinations 3
    San Simeon Anvil
    Spanish Steps
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