The Museum of Art owns the largest collection of works by Maynard Dixon in the country. These paintings and drawings, which span 30 years of Dixon’s career, are an important part of the museum’s holdings. Since the acquisition of these works, in 1937 by Herald R. Clark, then dean of the College of Commerce at BYU, many scholars, artists and visitors, like actress Diane Keaton, have come to Provo to see the Dixon collection.
Dixon’s popularity is connected with his philosophy and unique depictions of the West, which he referred to on a number of occasions as “the Real Thing.” Rather than follow the novel and fashionable trends of modern art, the California native said he went into the desert seeking answers. Near the end of his life Dixon wrote, “Here I was in the midst of the Real Thing – my western world – and my mind was set to tell the truth of it on paper and on canvas.”
In “Remembrance of Tusayan,” Dixon depicts the ancient Tusayan Province in northeastern Arizona as a pristine landscape with no inhabitants. Dixon organizes the western desert landscape with its mesas, buttes and clouds into a painted composition of his own imagination. He creates an abstract representation with his characteristic simplified clouds and landscape.
“Remembrance of Tusayan, No. 2” and eight other works by Dixon are currently on display at the museum in the “American Dreams” exhibit.
This is part of a bi-weekly series featuring a piece from the Museum of Art.