Claude Buck

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"Still Life"
Oil on canvas on masonite
24 x 20 inches

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Claude (Charles Claude) Buck was born in New York City on July 3, 1890. He studied painting with his father, William R. Buck, from age three to fourteen, then began his artistic studies at the National Academy of Design and was taught by distinguished artists such as Emile Carlsen, George deForest Brush, Francis Jones, and Kenyon Cox. Buck worked as a scene painter in the theatre and at the Willet Stained Glass company, and in 1914 began portrait commissions to earn money. In New York, he founded a group named the Introspectives, which reflected his own problems with melancholy during that period; other members including Raymond Jonson and Emil Armin. They held their first exhibition at the Whitney Studio in 1917.

In the 1920s to earn money by gaining public favor and also expressing his increasing disdain for modernism, Buck did a number of hyperrealist portraits, figures and still lifes. These proved popular and aligned him with the opponents of abstraction and their Society for Sanity in Art movement whose headquarters were in Chicago. Buck taught drawing and painting at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art from 1921 to 1926, and at the Art Institute, where he took over classes of George Bellows. In 1929, the Arts Council of New York voted him one of the top one-hundred painters in the United States.

He was known for his fantastic images drawn from writings of Edgar Allen Poe, operas by Richard Wagner, classical mythology and "New Testament" writings from the Bible. Some of these early paintings had nude figures rendered in Classical style to express abstract themes developed through dream-like landscapes and disregard of relative scale or relatedness between the figures. These paintings had Luminist elements achieved with light-toned paints worked with transparent glazes.

Although Buck spent the last years of his life in Santa Cruz and is considered a California artist, his work also reflects the formal New York and Munich training he received at the beginning of his career. He died on August 4, 1974.

Member: Carmel Art Association; Chicago Galleries Association; Society for Sanity in Art; Santa Cruz Artist League, Grand Central Art Gallery; Santa Barbara Art Association.

Exhibited: Chicago Galleries Association, 1926 (prize), 1927 (prize), 1930 (prize), 1931 (prize); Art Institute of Chicago 1929 (prize); Oakland Art Gallery, 1945 (medal); California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 1944 (medal); Chicago P & S, 1932 (medal); Carmel Art Gallery; Santa Cruz Art Gallery, 1944-46; Chicago Gallery Association.

Works held: Eastman Memorial Foundation, Laurel, Mississippi; University of Chicago; Vanderpoel College; Santa Cruz Public Library.

Hughes, Edan M. Artists In California 1786-1940. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Sacramento: Crocker, Art Museum, 2002. N. pag. 2 vols. Print. www.askart.com