Edwin Dickinson, Unknown Title, Date Unknown
Edwin Dickinson was an American painter and draftsman best known for psychologically charged self-portraits, quickly painted landscapes, which he called premier coups, and large, hauntingly enigmatic paintings involving figures and objects painted from observation, in which he invested his greatest time and concern.
The lesser known of his works are his ‘premiere coup’ portraits and nudes, his medium-sized paintings done entirely from imagination or incorporating elements from one of his drawings or done from observation over several days or weeks, including still lifes, portraits of others, both commissioned and not, and nudes.
Over time, Dickinson’s small paintings and drawings tended to converge in style. His ‘primiere coup’ paintings evolve from early works with forms constructed in thick impasto to later ones with a generally thinner use of paint and hazier forms, but he continued the practice of building forms in paint patches rather than first drawing contours. By contrast, Dickinson’s early drawings rely on firm contours and subtly nuanced shading to define clearly articulated forms.
The drawings and ‘primiere coup’ paintings of the period from the later 30′s to the early 60′s, apparently so different from his large, time-consuming studio paintings, often share with them the quality of the Freudian uncanny found in Edward Hopper’s work, a quality to which the hazy luminosity contributes.
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