Mojave Desert

* Nearly 20,000 images of artworks the museum believes to be in the public domain are available to download on this site. Other images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. By using any of these images you agree to LACMA's Terms of Use.

Mojave Desert

United States, 1930s
Paintings
Oil on canvas
40 1/16 x 46 in. (101.76 x 116.84 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William A. Mallet (M.85.231.1)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

Lauritz painted a wide variety of landscape themes, including dramatic Alaskan snow scenes and coastal views but received the most acclaim for his paintings of the desert....
Lauritz painted a wide variety of landscape themes, including dramatic Alaskan snow scenes and coastal views but received the most acclaim for his paintings of the desert. He made his first trip to the desert in 1920 and often camped near Palm Springs and the Salton Sea. In his characteristic desert paintings Lauritz sought to capture the effect of bright light. These fairly tonal paintings convey a certain stillness and peace. In Desert Landscape he contrasts the quiet of the desert with the drama of a mountain storm. As do all his paintings, Desert Landscape displays the simple and broad technique Lauritz achieved using exceptionally large brushes. This painting and a canvas of identical size depicting the Pico House, n.d. (LACMNH), hung for years in the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The hotel, which opened in 1927, was designed by Charles Whittlesey in the rococo Spanish Colonial revival style popular in the 1920s.
More...

About The Era

The beginning of every century inspires a general sentiment of endless possibilities, and the twentieth century was no exception....
The beginning of every century inspires a general sentiment of endless possibilities, and the twentieth century was no exception. A modern age marked by technological wonders had begun, and the United States was to be its focal point. Lewis Mumford, one of the country’s most brilliant thinkers, explained that, unlike Europe, “the New World expanded the human imagination.” Young American students still traveled to Europe, especially Paris, for their initiation to art, but the progressive new ideas of cubism, futurism, and surrealism that they imbibed only found their true home in the United States.
As demonstrated by the first generation of modernists in the circle of Alfred Stieglitz, American artists rarely abandoned referential ties to the physical world completely. The simplification of form, multiple perspectives, and ideas about the fourth dimension that radical proponents of cubism espoused would find their most compelling American expressions in the fishermen of Marsden Hartley, and the animal bones and skulls of Georgia O’Keeffe. To these artists, abstraction meant the synthesis of personal experience.
The introduction of psychological ideas, first in the form of Sigmund Freud’s discussion of the unconscious and later in the writings and art of the surrealists, found an enthusiastic audience in America. Such new concepts not only expanded ideas about the human mind but also encouraged the liberation of social conduct, in particular, sexual mores. Women increasingly became involved in creative aspects of the new modern age. In 1934 the Los Angeles artists Helen Lundeberg and Lorser Feitelson issued the only surrealist manifesto to appear in the United States, thereby demonstrating that in a relatively short time California had seriously challenged New York as the leader of the brave new world.
More...

Bibliography

  • About the Era.
  • Fort, Ilene Susan and Michael Quick.  American Art:  a Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection.  Los Angeles:  Museum Associates, 1991.