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Albert H. Krehbiel, American Impressionist

Impressionistic Transition -- Santa Monica and Santa Fe


"Shortly after completing the Illinois Supreme Court Murals, Krehbiel’s work changed direction. Instead of painting entirely in his studio, he began to seek the outdoors and to paint the atmospheric effects of sun, fog, and snow, with broad visible brush strokes. It was at this time that Krehbiel began to incorporate the principles of impressionism into his work."(1) Two of Krehbiel’s few remaining transitional works are Two Ladies in the Grape Arbor, circa 1913, and Lady and Her Bowl of Nasturtiums, circa 1914. "Here, Krehbiel painted a casual color scene with a naturalistic approach that, at the same time, had sharp contours and shading of drapery folds recalling the principles of a more classical 19th century academic manner of representation. However, the heightened color tone levels along with the subdued quality of the trees in the background suggest that he was experimenting with some of the techniques established by the impressionists of France and their followers in America."(1)

Beginning in 1918 and continuing through the early 1920s, Krehbiel spent a good part of his summers at an art colony in Santa Monica, California, with Dulah, Evans (their son and only child), and Dulah's sister, Mayetta, where he painted impressionistic high-keyed shore-line views and landscapes while Dulah painted her son and sister in various settings. “The continuing shift in Krehbiel’s approach becomes more pronounced in his California works. The light-flooded scenes conveyed by thick impasto brushwork emphasize the play of juxtaposed contrasting colors. There is a reduced concentration on the modeling of three-dimensional shapes, and the boundaries between individual objects soften.” (1)

Krehbiel spent the balance of the summers of 1918 through 1922 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. From 1920 through 1923 - at times again traveling with Dulah, Evans, and Mayetta - Krehbiel was an exhibiting member of the Santa Fe Art Colony. “He was very well respected as an artist in Santa Fe, as well as in Chicago, during these years. In 1922 and 1923, Krehbiel was invited to Santa Fe by the Museum of New Mexico to participate in its Visiting Artists Program and given a studio in the historic Palace of the Governors next door to famed Ashcan realist, Robert Henri (1865-1929). In a letter from Santa Fe in 1922, Krehbiel wrote:‘

I must tell you of the many kindnesses I have received here from the friends of the museum . . . Dr. Hewitt from the beginning has been gracious and allotted me one of the four studios maintained for visiting artists. Robert Henri, by the way, has been my neighbor.’ ” (4)

“In his Santa Fe works, Krehbiel seemed to have delighted in the free use of color. As with his paintings Santa Fe, ca. 1922, and Tethered Mules, ca.1922, vibrant rhythmic brush strokes radiate from the canvas. Color is used with the same strength in areas of light as it is in areas of shadow. The unnatural colors lend themselves to the dramatic sun-drenched landscapes of the Southwest. ( Click here for Southwest Exhibit.) In the same 1922 letter, Krehbiel continues:

“ . . . To me, the hours between daylight and sundown are for work – the charm of the light and color of this interesting country invite one to record its many-sided beauty without feeling fatigue.” (4)

Krehbiel had associations and exhibitions with other artists of the Santa Fe Art Colony -- and the Taos Society of Artists -- such as George Bellows and Gustave Baumann (exhibition in McPherson, Kansas, 1918), and B. J. O. Nordfeldt, Marsden Hartley, and Sheldon Parsons (exhibition in El Paso, Texas, 1920). Additional notable artists that Krehbiel exhibited with during this period include Victor Higgins, Ernest Blumenschein, John Sloan, Clarence Raymond Johnson, and Stuart Davis. (4)