December 3, 2017
Maynard Dixon, Free Speech, 1934-1936, oil on canvas, 36 3/8 x 40 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1937.
After a seven-month stay in Taos, New Mexico, artist Maynard Dixon returned to San Francisco. There he painted the poverty and injustices of those struggling during the Great Depression. In this painting, an energetic figure seems to demand denied freedoms. He speaks to a crowd of workers and police officers during the maritime strike of 1934. This public protest contrasts with the peace and harmony in Dixon’s paintings of Pueblo culture. Yet both marked the West as a home of forgotten peoples.
Dixon was among the most significant painters of the American West in the twentieth century. He was best known for his portrayals of Native Americans, mountain men, cowboys, and scenery in the southwestern states. The BYU Museum of Art is grateful to own a large collection of Maynard Dixon paintings, which are displayed on a rotating basis. Free Speech was included in an exhibition titled Branding the American West, on display at the MOA in 2016.