American Muralist, Modernist, Geometic Abstractionist
by Frank Goss
Painter, muralist and watercolorist Richard Haines made a name for himself as a major muralist in the WPA. After coming to California to work for Douglas Aircraft during the War, Haines went on to become at painting instructor at Chouinard and then at Otis Art Institute. His distinctively Modernist vision proved pivotal in mid-century Los Angeles, where he lived and worked until his death. Sullivan Goss is pleased to present the Estate of the Artist.
Always influenced by his Midwestern roots, Charles Richard Haines was born in Marion, Iowa on December 29, 1906, the eldest son of Fred C. Haines (1885-1949) and Hattie Mae Carver (1884-1952). After growing up on an Iowa farm he worked for several years as a designer for a greeting card company and subsequently Brown and Begelow, a calendar firm. He went on to study at the Minneapolis School of Art, where he would later teach. While teaching at the Minneapolis School of Art he became interested in mural painting. In 1933 he won the Vanderlip Traveling Scholarship to the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Fontainebleau, France.
Shortly after his return to the United States he became involved in New Deal art projects, winning nine mural commissions, primarily for U.S. Post Offices from the Treasury Department's Section of Painting and Sculpture between 1935 and 1941. In the 1938 he met and married interior decorator Leonora 'Nona' D. Stevens (1911-1989?) from Minneapolis, MN.
The artist and his wife moved to Los Angeles in 1941 where Haines worked for Douglas Aircraft during the war. He went on to teach at the Chouinard Art Institute from 1945-1954. In 1952 he was among nine artists selected to paint murals for the renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. From 1954-1974 he was the head of the painting department at Otis Art Institute. As a painter and watercolorist Haines was prolific and successful. From the late 1940's' through the early 1960's Haines enjoyed representation by one of the West Coast's finest galleries, Dalzell Hatfield. He worked non-stop until his death in Los Angeles on October 9, 1984. Haines suffered no diminution in his skills, producing many of his finest paintings in his last years.
II. SGTV Video
"Richard Haines: Endurance"
Produced and Narrated by Jeremy Tessmer
In the 2009 exhibition of paintings and prints by 20th century American muralist and painter, Richard Haines, the gallery offers a new insight into the artist's ideas of those things which endure.
II. AN ANALYSIS OF THE ARTIST'S WORK
Haines was a comprehensive working artist. His ouevre includes murals, sculptures, paintings, watercolors and prints. Although he began his work in the Midwest, the principal body of his work was completed after his move to Los Angeles in 1941.
The artist developed a distinctive style of representation which was at first influenced by cubist and abstracted geometric work. In midcareer his work evolved and included elements of post-surrealism and his own symbolism. Although some of his paintings are composed of many broken planes of color, others, especially some of his figurative works, are marked by simplicity, what his dealer Dalzell Hatfield, called "a meandering silence, a pause in time, a captive moment, all of which tend to reveal the spiritual values of humanity while depicting its physical form." His maturation, involving these aesthetic influences is in part it is what made the artist a sensational muralist.
The sense that his work was "constructed" may, in part, have come from the manner in which Haines worked. In The California Style, Gordon McClelland writes of the artist that "his approach to watercolor painting was different from most of his peers" Typically he would work on location, producing dozens of ink and wash sketches of a single subject, then return to his studio where he composed the painting form a combination of these sketches. He sometimes added other materials to his watercolor paintings and employed wax crayons, ink, charcoal, or scrubbing or scratching techniques to achieve desired effects and textures.
Line is an essential element of many of Haines paintings. In an interview published in American Artist in April of 1963 Haines talked about his reliance on line.
"Sometimes I sketch to stir up ideas, just to get going, but I like to improvise on the canvas rather than follow a sketch too closely. I'm reluctant to do detailed sketches because when I do, I tighten up."
Despite his remarks about sketching, Haines left behind some evidence to the contrary: a wonderful stack of small, prepatory "painted sketches" and a remarkable cache of figurative cutouts. In his studio were nearly 150 painted sketches and several dozen paper cutouts. These extant silhouettes are figures in different attitudes, identical to figures in his paintings. According to family members the artist would use heavy a construction paper and sketch out figures in different positions. Sometimes the figures were used to block out basic compositional shapes on already existing canvases, in today's language another "iteration" for his painting. At other times these cutouts were painted with gesso and a completed figure was painted on the paper media. Presumably this was done to try out different poses, gestures, heights, values, etc. This legacy of painted sketches and cutouts substantiate that the artist worked exactingly to achieve the completed painting or mural.
30" x 20"
Oil on board
In Sea Captains, the artist's concern for form, color, and pictorial flatness comes first. The figures are submerged in a puzzle-like geometry where passages of analogous colors make it difficult to seperate foreground from background.
III. WEST COAST MODERNISM
Haines was a principal figure in the West Coast Modernist school. Had his only contribution been his murals, he would have to be measured as one of the more influential artist to have come from the West Coast. He created murals for nine U.S. Post Offices, mostly in the Midwest; he completed the mural at the District Courthouse in Anchorage, Alaska, a principal mural for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and dozens of mural panels for educational institutions around the United States.
However, Haines and some of the other California modernist such as Dan Lutz, Rolph Scarlett, Frances de Erdely, Dorr Bothwell, Bentley Schaad, Sueo Serisawa and Ed Reep seem to have been lost to the current generation of collectors. This group of painters, followed the opportunity set by Stanton McDonald-Wright, Helen Lundeberg and Lorser Feitelson. They were part of the 1st generation of artists released from the requirements of completely representational paintings. As a lot they abandoned the requirements of 500 years of faithfulness to the simple record of vision, perhaps because Southern California was the "new world". Perhaps they accomplished what they did because no one in this new world cared about the maintenance of artistic traditions. This group was uniquely free to pursue an artistic spirit which was fresh, chalenging and explosive.
An affective reexamination of Haines West Coast influence is underway thanks to a 3000 sheet archive passed on to Sullivan Goss by the wonderful California "treasure hunter" Alan Adler.
Arizona State College, Tempe, AZ
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX
California Watercolor Society, Los Angeles, CA
Chouinard Foundation Permanent Coll., South Pasadena, CA
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
E. Gene Crain Collection, Newport Beach, CA
Encyclopedia Britannica Collection, Chicago, IL
Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN
Lessing J. Rosenwald Drawing Collection, Philadelphia, PA
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Los Angeles County Fair Permanent Collection, Pomona, CA
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Meadows Museum, Dallas, TX
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Minnesota Historical Society (Lithographs), St. Paul, MN
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, KS
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, OR
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
Seattle Museum of Art, Seattle, WA
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
University of Utah, Logan, UT
Virginia Steele Scott Collection, Pasadena, CA
The West Collection, St. Paul, MN
United States Navy Permanent Collection, Washington, DC
University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
University of Utah, Logan, UT
William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City, KS
Bay Ferry Terminal Mural Study
7" x 21"
Egg tempera on board
Created for a WPA competition to create murals for the San Francisco Rincon Annex.
California Bank Building, Board of Directors Room, Los Angeles, CA
1933 - 1934 Vanderlip Traveling Scholarship, Ecole des Beaux Art
1944 1st Award, Los Angeles Museum, Exhibition. by Artists of L.A. & Vicinity
1945 3rd Award, Los Angeles Museum, Exhibition by Artists of L.A. & Vicinity
1947 3rd Award, Oakland Museum Annual Exhibition
1947 Honorable Mention, Denver Museum of Art
1948 1st Award, Purchase Prize, California State Fair
1948 Artists Council Prize (Lithograph), San Francisco Museum
1948 1st Award, Purchase Prize, California State Fair
1948 1st Prize in Lithography, 33rd Annual Society of Etchers, Engravers & Lithographers, New York
1949 2nd Award, California State Fair
1949 2nd Award, Purchase Prize, L.A. Centennial, L.A. County Museum
1949 Art Association Prize, San Francisco Museum
1950 1st Award in Watercolor, Walnut Creed Art Show, Walnut Creek, CA
1950 3rd Award, Corcoran Biennial, Corcoran Gallery, Wash., DC
1954 Prize, Artists of Los Angeles & Vicinity, L.A., CA
34" x 32"
Oil on canvas
During the mid 60s, the artist developed a new style of painting which combined elements of French modernism and American Scene painting with a very personal vision. The enigmatic imagery relates this later work to Post-Surrealism (originally called Subjective Classicism).
1944 American Contemporary Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1947, 1949, 1951 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
1947 Oakland Art Museum, Oakland, CA
1948, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964 Dalzell Hatfield Galleries, Los Angeles, CA
1948 San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA
1948, 1951 California State Fair, Pomona, CA
1948-1955 California Watercolor Society
1950, 1951, 1960 University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL
1950-1952 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
1949, 1951 Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
1954 Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg, PA
1954 National Orange Show, San Bernardino, CA
1955 São Paulo Museum of Art, São Paulo, Brazil
1956, 1961 The Santa Monica Art Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
1956 Scripps College Art Galleries, La Jolla, CA
1956 Los Angeles City Annual, Los Angeles, CA
1944-56, 1959-60 Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
1959 Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
1960 Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, CA
1963 Roberts Art Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
1964 Frye Museum, Seattle, WA
1964 Laguna Beach Art Gallery, Laguna Beach CA
1966 Ventura County Forum of Arts, Ventura, CA
1967-77 Adele Bednarz Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1977, 1979, 1982, 2005 Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA
1978-79 Abraxas Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
1985 Southern California Contemporary Art Galleries, Los Angeles, CA
VIII. CATALOGUE RAISONNE
Although there is no plan to create a Catalogue Raisonne at this time, this space is set aside to record works by the artist with images, titles, dimensions, signature location and awards. This will make the work of a Catalogue easier in the future. In the event that you have work(s) by Richard Haines which you would like considered for inclusion here, please (1) create digital images, (2) include the above information and foward it, along with (3) your request for the images to be included on this site to .
With the exception of his work in murals, it was Haines' work in oil that generated his finest contributions to Americna art. In the course of his career his work passed through several distinctive periods of development, but from fairly ealry his unique painting vernacular included references to surrealism and symbolism. It is hoped that over time the inclusion of his work in this catalogue will allow collectors and future scholars to more fairly judge the merit of his work.
II. PAINTED SKETCHES
One of the more unusual legacies that the artist left behind are his painted sketches. For the most part these are less that a square foot. Sometimes they were worked in oil, sometimes watercolor and occasionally pastel crayon. In these studies it is possible to see makettes of many major paintings and mural.s It is not known if all the sketches were worked into formal paintings.
Gordan McCleland and Jay Last in their book, California Watercolors, 1850-1970, make a substantive entry for Haines as a watercolorist and a member of the California Water Color Society. In 1950 Haines served as president of the Society. Be that as it may, the authors have found only occasional mention of the artist's efforts in watercolors. More than one person who is familiar with Haines career believe that the artist's interest in the watercolor medium existed primarily in the 1940's and 1950's and that this work was popular with collectors. By the middle 1950's Haines was a recognized and succesful artist and that he devoted himself primarily to painting in oil in the last three decades of his career.
by Patricia Goss
Although dates are very uncertain, it is evident that Haines gave considerable effort to his work in lithography. From the twelve images that survive it is clear that he was working with Lynton Kistler, the most prominent printer in Los Angeles. His compositions are thoroughly worked and his technique in black and white is as sophisticated as other artists of that period including Dan Lutz. It is thought that all of his prints were completed from the mid-40's to early '50's, except "Toreros" which is on a different paper and does not bear the Kistler's mark. Of the twelve cataloged images, eight have edition numbers, ranging from 9 to 53. Each is on a professional quality lithographic, oatmeal toned paper without watermark. Lynton Kistler, Los Angeles' most important printer, affixed his logo embossed signature or pencil signature to at least one of each of the images in the Sullivan Goss holding except the image "Toreros". Titles which were given by Haines are in quotes below, other titles were created for this catalog. There is one complete set of Haines eleven lithographs which is available. It contains the finest strike of each of the images held by Sullivan Goss. Sullivan Goss desires to have this complete set acquired by an institution where it would become a reference set available to scholars. Other single copies of some of the prints are available.
Only a very few of the artist's drawings survive. It is safe to say that in the academic sense Haines was a draftsman most of his life. In his oil sketches and many of his finished paintings the line of his pencil drawings can be seen through the paint.
In an undated note found in the Haines family archives the artist commented on his working method,
"Usually when I have an idea that I want to paint I make numerous small pencil sketches to help me more clearly establish the framework on which to develop the painting. I try various canvas shapes: vertical, horizontal, long, mere square - then sketch in the basic areas of the design, little shapes against large quiet areas - dark and light pattern. When I strike a composition that seems to crystalize my vision of how this particular painting should be conceived, I am ready to start directly on the canvas or paper."
1. Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California, 1786-1940, p. 473. San Fran.: Hughes Pub., 1989.
2. U.S. Census, Birth Date, Marriage Dates, Children, Death Date. Accessed through RootsWeb.com
3. Art in Federal Buildings - Vol. 1: Mural Designs, 1934-1936; Bruce & Watson;
Art in Federal Buildings, Inc.; Wash., DC; 1936
4. Painting in the United States, 1949; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, 1949
5. American Painting Today; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY; 1950
6. American Paintings Today; Pousette-Dart, Nathaniel; Hastings House Publishers, NY 1956
7. The Realm of Contemporary Still Life Painting; Schaad, Bentley; Reinhold Pub., NY, 1962
8. Prints by California Artists; Crest of Hollywood-Fine Art Publishers, Los Angeles
9. Lovoos, Janice American Artist, Richard Haines, Painter April, 1963 (Vol. 27 # 4; pp. 50-57)