Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

c. 1921

Gustave Baumann

(American, born Germany, 1881-1971)

Tempera over graphite on brown paper

Support: Brown paper

Image: 26.7 x 24.4 cm (10 1/2 x 9 5/8 in.); with borders: 29.5 x 26 cm (11 5/8 x 10 1/4 in.); Sheet: 33 x 28.4 cm (13 x 11 3/16 in.)

Gift of Ann Baumann 2005.464



Baumann first visited the Grand Canyon in 1919 and was awestruck by the vast scale, dramatic light effects, and exquisite colors, but he found the light and color elusive and frustrating to capture. “The atmosphere plays tricks and you see things that are not really there,” he commented. Baumann understood the difficulty of depicting such a bewildering site: “The Grand Canyon with its altar peaks reaching towards infinity is one vast church. The door being always open one should enter to worship silently and make no images. . . . It can result in little more than a feeble effort.” One such “feeble effort,” this tempera creates an illusion of the expansive space and a convincing effect of light playing over rock formations. Although Baumann found portraying the Grand Canyon challenging, he continued to produce painted and printed visions of the breathtaking locale.

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Credit line: 
Gift of Ann Baumann

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