Eugene Kingman (1909-1975)

Left to right - Artists Eugene Kingman, Kennath Callahan, Richard Diebenkorn, and Chen Chi, on the Gila Project, Arizona
(l-r)Artists Eugene Kingman, Kenneth Callahan, Richard Diebenkorn, and Chen Chi, on the Gila Project, Arizona.

Eugene Kingman was born in 1909 in Providence, Rhode Island. The entirety of his formal higher education was spent at Yale, where he obtained both a BA and an MFA. He also studied extensively at the Rhode Island School of Design (with John Frazier, Frederic Sisson and Nancy Jones) during high school, and for a year after high school, Kingman studied at the Fogg Art Museum with Edward Forbes and Paul Sachs. Early in his career (he was in his third year at Yale), he was commissioned by Horace M. Albright to paint seven paintings of park scenes at Sequoia, Mt. Rainier, Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Crater Lake. Among other projects, he received commissions to paint murals in U.S. Post Offices in Hyattsville, Maryland; Kemmerer, Wyoming; and East Providence, Rhode Island. Kingman taught at Rhode Island School of design for three years, soon after which he joined the OSS as a cartographer. After the war, Kingman became director of Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. In addition, he acted as consultant to the Smithsonian, and to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their exhibit of the Missouri River Powerhouse.

From an early age on, Eugene Kingman painted landscapes. He worked in a high contrast manner, putting highlights and shade next to each other with little blending. This could have been a result of, or the reason for, using acrylic paint, which dries quite quickly. The high contrast creates quite a dramatic rendering, which is reinforced by the use of intense, saturated colors. The surface of the canvases are rough with the marks of Kingman's paint application, most likely with a palate knife. This is especially apparent in Palo Verde Diversion Dam. The lighting in Kingman's scenes feels quite harsh, due in part to the use of unmodified whites and yellows as highlights, and also because of the sharp juxtaposition of highlights and shadows.

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