Gustave Baumann (1881–1971) was a pioneer in the development of the color woodcut in the United States. Although he is best known for his bucolic scenes of the Midwest and his majestic imagery of the American Southwest, he made twelve powerful color woodcuts depicting the natural beauty of the Golden State. Inspired by seven automobile trips to California between 1927 and 1940 and his long drives up the scenic coast from San Diego to San Francisco, the works portray California’s coastline; its redwood, sequoia, and Torrey pine forests; and its Spanish-influenced architecture. The exhibition brings the California works together with a selection of Baumann’s formative color woodcuts of rural Brown County, Indiana—five from his Hills o’ Brown series and three of his largest color woodcuts. Baumann exhibited these Indiana woodcuts at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) in San Francisco where he won a gold medal for printmaking. Gustave Baumann in California includes works by the two California printmakers most directly affected by the PPIE print exhibition, Frances Gearhart and William S. Rice. To illustrate Baumann’s printmaking process, the exhibition incorporates didactic materials, including a tempera study, a set of wood blocks, and a series of progressive proofs for his color woodcut, Singing Woods. There are also tempera studies of San Francisco before the bridges and of the then-quaint village of Laguna Beach.
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