Sullivan Goss
Celebrating 34 Years
of 19th, 20th and 21stCentury American Art
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Los Angeles Regionalist & Modernist

by Frank Goss

Ben Messick completed his training in Los Angeles at Chouinard in the late-1920s. He is well-known for his Regionalist scenes as well as Modernist paintings. He returned to Chouinard in the 1940s where he remained as an instructor through the 1950s. While there, he influenced a generation of Los Angeles modernists. Sullivan Goss is pleased to present the Estate of the Artist.

Table of Contents


Born near Stafford, Missouri in 1891, Benjamin Newton Messick displayed remarkable artistic talent at a very young age. After serving in France during World War I, Messick moved to California to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. He received immediate praise and recognition for his art upon enrolling in the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles in the fall of 1925. Messick returned to Chouinard in the 1940s and 1950s as one of the school’s most popular instructors.

Messick’s work can be divided into two distinct periods: regionalist paintings from the 1930s and ‘40s, and modernist pieces that evolved from the 1950s onward. His scene paintings reflect his passion for human nature, depicting subjects from the streets, parks and beaches in a kind, honest manner. The modernist pieces explore fantastic landscapes in a bold, dark palette with vigorous, thick brushwork.

A talented draftsman, printmaker and painter, Messicks’s works were featured in countless exhibitions at important museums and galleries. He received numerous awards and was often considered to be one of the foremost members of the Los Angeles art community. Despite his fine reputation, just a few years after his death Messick’s works slipped into relative obscurity. Sullivan Goss is proud to represent the estate of the artist.


  • Boca Raton Museum of Art, FL
  • Grumbacher Collection, New York, NY
  • Laguna Art Musuem, Laguna Beach, CA
  • Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
  • Los Angeles County Art Museum, LA, CA
  • Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
  • National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
  • Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA
  • San Francisco Musuem of Art, San Francisco, CA
  • Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ
  • Springfield Art Musuem, Springfield, MO


  • 1925 Special Award for Drawing, L.A. County Fair, 1925
  • 1927 Watercolor Prize, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
  • 1952 Grumbacher California State Award
  • 1953 Second Prize, Long Beach Art Association
  • 1953 Second Award, Long Beach Art Association
  • Key Award, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ
  • 1969 Diploma of Honor, Internationa Arts Guild, Monte Carlo, Monaco
  • Memberships

  • American Federation of Arts
  • California Art Club
  • Cultuaral Art Center Association, Long Beach
  • Fine arts Society of San Diego
  • International Arts Guild, Monte Carlo, Monaco
  • Laguna Beach Art Association
  • Long Beach Art Association
  • Los Angeles Art Association
  • Royal Society of Arts, London
  • Southern State Arts League

    Solo Exhibitions

    The list below is extracted from James R. Lafferty, Sr.'s excellent monograph, Ben Messick by permission

  • 1933 Holmby Hills College
  • 1935 Los Angeles County Museum
  • 1937 Stendahl Gallery (Catalog introduction by Loser Feitelson)
  • 1938 Scripps College Library
  • 1938, 1939, 1940 Stendahl Gallery
  • 1941 Organic Art Forms, Chouinard Art Institute
  • 1943 Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO
  • 1944 Exhibition of Drawings & Lithographs, Smithsonian Institution
  • 1945 Exhibition of Lithographs & Drawings, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
  • 1946 Francis Tayler Galleries, Beverly Hill, CA
  • 1946 Exhibition of Lithographs & Drawings, Pasadena Art Institute, Pasadena, CA
  • 1947 Ben Messick, An Exhibition of Oil Paintings, La Jolla Art Center, CA
  • 1947 Oil Paintings by Ben Messick De Young Museum, San Francisco, CA
  • 1948 Ben Messick: Paintings, San Diego School of Arts & Crafts, La Jolla, CA
  • 1949 Presents Ben Messick, Los Angeles Artist, Ojai Art Center, Ojai, CA
  • 1950, 1963 Franz Eue Gallery, Long Beach, CA
  • 1950 Ben Messick Exhibition, Pacific Coast Club Galleria, Long Beach, CA
  • 1950 Exhibition of Works by Ben Messick, Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, CA
  • 1950 Exhibition of Works by Ben Messick, San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA
  • 1951 Exhbition of Paintings & Lithographs, San Diego School of Arts & Crafts, CA
  • 1951 Paintings by Ben Messick, Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL
  • 1957 Paintings by Ben Messick & Velma Hay, Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, CA
  • 1957 Paintings & Graphics by Ben Messick, Long Beach Museum, Long Beach, CA
  • 1961 Ben Messick Exhibition Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL
  • 1963 Frick Gallery, Palm Springs, CA
  • 1964 Grand Central Art Galleries, New York, NY
  • 1967 An Annual Exhibition of Paintings, Prints, And Drawings, by Ben Messick, Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO
  • 1982 Memorial Exhibit, Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO
  • 1987, 1988, 1989 Eclectic Gallery, Redlands, CA
  • 1990 In The Vernacular: Ben Messick’s Paintings of the L.A. Scene, 1935-1950,Edward Dean Musuem, Cherry Valley Museum, CA
  • 1993 Ben Messick Retrospective, Cline Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
  • 2000, 2001 Sullivan Goss, Ltd., Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2004 Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO

    1. 1. Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California, 1786-1940, p. 473. San Fran.: Hughes Pub., 1989.
    2. 2. U.S. Census, Birth Date, Marriage Dates, Children, Death Date. Accessed through
    3. 3. Falk, Peter. Who's Who In American Art1936-1966
    4. 4. Who's Who In the West
    5. 5. Perine, Robert, Chouinard: An Art Vision Betrayed; Artra Pub. Co.; 1985
    6. 6. Westphal, Ruth. American Scene Painting: California, 1930's & 1940's. Irvine, Westphal Pub., 1991.
    7. 7. McClelland, Gordan. The California Style, California Watercolor Artists 1925-1955. Beverly Hills, Hillcrest Press, 1985.
    8. 8. Lafferty, James R., Sr. Ben Messick Redlands, CA; Rifleman Pub., 1989.

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