At the top of my favorite maritime artists stands Armin Hansen of  Monterey, California. Not only was he pre-eminent among American Impressionists but he also worked actively for the success of other artists in the region and for the interests of his subjects, the local fishermen.

For example, Hansen organized successful artist groups in Monterey and nearby Carmel to promote their work to the public. When redevelopment threatened the existence of Monterey’s fishermen’s wharf, he and his colleagues were able to oppose this project effectively and save critical access to their markets for the seamen.

Studying art both in Europe and in the USA, he became a well-known and loved artist of the early 20th century, whose developing impressionist style definitely influenced the movement’s progress in this country.

Locally, his remarkable personality was welcome among the Monterey bohemian types and the Carmel traditionalists, uniting them when they had common aims to support. He also tirelessly offered his art instruction, first at the University of California, Berkeley, and the California School of Fine "Sardine Barge" by Amin Hansen ca 1933Arts,–and later  in Monterey also.

His long life spanned the years 1886 to 1957 while the earthquake of 1906 diverted him from his native city of San Francisco, to choose for his home the bustling and picturesque port about fifty miles south. A perceptive choice, here he settled into what was at once a key historic Pacific port,  the former Spanish capital of the territory, and a necessary retreat for numerous other San Francisco artists.

The son of an influential and famous German artist who had immigrated to northern California to become one of the best known painters of the American West, Carl ‘Armin’ Hansen took that remarkable heritage and added his unique tastes and desires to it. As a young man, he had already acted on his inclinations by spending four years as a working-boat crewman in Europe, probably an apprenticeship for his art as essential as the studio classes he also had under his belt by that time.

About fifteen years ago (and forty years after his death),  a documentary was released about the continuing legacy of Hansen and his fellow artists, “Time Captured in Paintings: The Monterey Legacy,”  which won the Golden Eagle Award from the prestigious CINE.

Enjoy a few of his best loved works in small form here!

Note that they usually take a harbor view of the everyday human struggle–and its technical tools–against the sublime surround of Monterey Bay waters.  His masterworks, such as Sardine Barge and Salmon Trawlers, show what amazing effects Hansen was able to achieve already by the 1930’s. In these the sea’s reflective surface often becomes the artist’s sky and weather–or a way to represent these ordinary landscape elements. Oil was his chief medium, but he often created etchings and watercolors as well.

Want to delve deeper into Hansen’s large body of work  online and read more details of his active life?  There is a wealth of material to find.

[I believe the links above are now all working. Sorry, CLH]

LOCAL SHOW: A treat to come–for those with access–is when the major venue for his works, the Monterey Museum of Art, hosts multiple pieces by him in March. “California Impressionism: Selections from the Irvine Museum”  will run for the public March 24 to May 27, 2012,  at the museum’s branch called  La Mirada, to be found at 720 Via Mirada in Monterey. This huge and singular effort to present “California Art”  includes sixty paintings in a group, featuring Hansen alongside his contemporaries: Franz Bischoff, Jessie Botke, Paul Dougherty, Edgar Payne, Granville Redmond, William Ritschel and Henrietta Shore.

A related book will be on offer, and educational opportunities available for adults and children.

The linkage between work and art forged by Armin Hansen is one I celebrate! It comes naturally enough if one becomes wedded to a special subject above all others as some artists do. It’s basic to a maritime or marine artist by definition.

Thanks for your interest!  CLH


[BTW, To comment click on the large number top left, next to the date of any post. CLH]