Joy in the Familiar
This page lets you go deeper into the exhibition by presenting the artworks with thoughtful questions, additional historical and art historical information, and interesting comparisons.
All supplementary material for the “Joy in the Family” section of John Henri Moser: Painting Utah Modern is on this page. Scroll to find the image and content you’re looking for.
Look closely at these images. Click on each one to see a larger image. As you look at each painting, examine the brushstrokes and trace them in the air. Notice how visible the brushstrokes are.
In 1917, Moser moved his family to Souther Idaho to establish a homestead. The Mosers eventually settled in Cache Valley, Utah, and remained there until Henri’s death.
Although Moser was fond of using Fauvist-inspired colors to depict nature, his modernist tendencies stopped short of spatial abstraction. His landscapes always retained three-dimensionality and he showed no interest in Picasso’s Cubist fracturing of space.
Furthermore, while the use of bold, pure color was an end in itself in Fauvism, Moser applied brilliant colors with choppy, confident brushstrokes to capture and accentuate the beauty of divine creation.
One scholar observed the following about Moser’s landscapes: “It is always summer, always high noon. All shapes are positive, all hues at full saturation.” He added that Moser’s art “demands a sophisticated viewer” (James Haseltine, 1963).
John Henri Moser (1876-1951), Golden Aspens in Moonlight, no date, oil on canvas on board. Sharron Brim Collection.
John Henri Moser (1876-1951), Quaking Aspens, Old Homestead, 1930, oil on canvas on board. Sharron Brim Collection.
John Henri Moser painted thousands of trees in his career. Almost human-like in their individualistic character, each is unique and no two are alike.
Select any of the above aspen trees and mimic its line and shape using your body! You may also choose to draw the lines of the trunks of the trees in the air or on a piece of paper.
John Henri Moser (1876-1951), Bluebonnets, 1928, oil on board. Sharron Brim Collection.
Living artists sometimes struggle to make a living. Moser was no exception. He seized every opportunity to support his family with his art:
– He regularly entered Utah State Fair art competitions—and won several of them.
– Moser also painted “house portraits” for people in Cache Valley.
– He even set up shop on the streets in Salt Lake City and painted landmarks such as the Tabernacle and the Salt Lake Theater, which he would then sell to tourists for $5.00 each.
– He traveled to the Bay Area of California to paint and exhibit his work there.
– Moser would even trade paintings for services and goods, including surgery and dental work for his wife
– In 1928, Moser drove his Ford Model-T all the way to San Antonio, Texas, to enter an art competition with this very painting—Bluebonnets—hoping to win the grand prize of $1000 (worth around $26,000 today). Although he did not win the grand prize, Moser was awarded an honorable mention.
The official State Flower of Texas is the bluebonnet. But did you know that there are five different types of bluebonnet? All five are considered the official State Flower. The variety that Moser painted in this piece peaks in late March, covering large areas of Texas in a sea of blue. Notice how Moser suggest the omnipresence of bluebonnets in the hills.
So what is the state tlower of Utah? The sego lily!
The sego lily was chosen to represent Utah because of its historic significance. The soft, bulbous root of the sego lily was collected and eaten by pioneer settlers in the mid-1800s during a crop-devouring plague of crickets.
Imagine what a painting of sego lilies by Moser would have looked like!
John Henri Moser (1876-1951), Logan Canyon, Near Beaver Dam, 1926, oil on canvas. Sharron Brim Collection.
John Henry Moser died in 1951 in Logan, Utah, at age 75. John A. Widstoe, President of the College in Logan, who sent Moser to study art in Paris, wrote these poignant words for his obituary:
“He dreamed dreams and saw visions…he lived in a great world such as most of us are not able to enter.”
What would you want to tell the artist if he was here with us right now? Send us your comments at email@example.com and we will gift them to the family of the artist.