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Maynard Dixon's Nvorczk
Dr. Mark Sublette
During my career as a gallery owner, I have exhibited five important shows featuring the artwork of Maynard Dixon; the present show: Maynard Dixon’s Nvorczk is the most exciting of all. The challenge in putting on any Dixon show is finding enough material not only for sale but exhibit. This Dixon show and sale is unique as almost every piece Maynard Dixon produced and signed with his pseudonym Nvorczk will be on exhibit for the very first time. These works have stayed intact in John and Lee Dixon’s personal collection since they were given to John in 1987 by Edith Hamlin, Dixon’s third wife. The sixty pieces have been carefully stored just waiting to be seen by the art world. In the twelve years since my first Dixon show Maynard Dixon and his art has been found by the greater art world.
Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) Nvorczk, Gloomy House, Oil on Canvas, 10" x 14"
In 1996, selling an important Dixon painting for a million dollars would have been unheard of, now it is almost common place. At that time numerous oil paintings were still available. Dixon drawings were easily obtainable with a great example bringing at the most $10,000. Today an important drawing can bring six figures. There are few drawings on the market, rarely an iconic piece.
Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) Nvorczk, Left: Indian Figure with Eye, Gouache, 6.5" x 7.5"
Right: Life in Limbo, Oil on Board, c. 1917, 10" x 14"
Dixon’s importance as one of the great American artists of the twentieth century is firmly secured with almost a dozen different museum shows having taken place in the last decade. The most recent museum show runs October 11, 2008 - February 15, 2009 at the Tucson Museum of Art. It is the first Exhibit dedicated to Dixon’s Arizona works with 135 pieces on display. In the last decade numerous books featuring Dixon have been published. Dixon’s Catalog Raisonne is in the final stages of review and two well done film documentaries on Maynard Dixon have been completed and available.
Many individuals still equate Dixon only as a painter of Cowboys and Indians; nothing however, could be farther from the truth. Maynard Dixon was a complex individual whose art style ranged from illustrations to cubism and beyond. It is Dixon’s “beyond” that is his most drastic departure, an artistic style barely known in the general art world. Dixon painted over a nearly twenty year period (1917 to 1934) a group of paintings which were radically different from anything else he had every done, he signed these works Nvorczk. The Nvorczk collection by Maynard Dixon is the basis for this current exhibit and catalog.
Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) Nvorczk, Nude, Gouache, c. 1923, 8.75" x 8"
Dixon’s escape and experimentation with modern art was a very personal and well kept secret. This group of nearly sixty exceptional oils and gouaches have remained in John and Lee Dixon’s personal collection. Why Dixon felt the need to try his hand at modern art one can only speculate. But speculate we must, for their presence is undeniable and another piece in the puzzle that is Maynard Dixon.
John Dixon’s, Maynard second son explained to me how he ended up with Dixon’s most unique collection of paintings, his Nvorczk artwork.
“Edith, Maynard’s wife pushed a large box from underneath a table that was filled with my father’s works and told me they were mine if I wanted them.”
“I was astounded and fascinated” recalls John Dixon as he first saw the works that his father had executed and signed with a pseudonym “Nvorczk.”
Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) Nvorczk, Left: One Eyed Nude, Oil on Canvas, 13.5" x 8.5"
Right: Torso Chorus, Oil on Canvas, 13.5" x 10.25"
John explained to me he felt his father must have seen himself as some sort of Russian expressionist and signed his name with some unpronounceable name… Nvorczk.“I believe he embraced what he was doing but wouldn’t adopt it” John Dixon explained. “Seeing modern art in museums as he did, must have bitten Maynard in some way, he could do it as well as they could. It may have been a way of saying to the art critics I can do this, what’s the big deal…”
All those who have the opportunity to view this exceptional exhibit will come away with their own interpretations, as John Dixon has, of what Maynard Dixon was expressing in pieces he signed Nvorczk.
Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) Nvorczk, Russian War, Gouache, 3" x 5.25"
One must wonder why an artist would spend twenty years on paintings that were made only for personal consumption. My perspective, after living with the Nvorczk collection, is Dixon was expressing himself through these pieces on some basic emotional level. The color palate in all the pieces whether gouache or oil is similar: primarily blue, purple, and green with flashes of red or pink highlighting as the central component of the pieces. The concept of Nvorczk may have started as just a spoof for Dixon, as some have speculated, but when viewed as a whole, the collection takes on a much more visceral and important component. Underlying themes of sexuality, war, death, and what lies ahead for all of us in the after world seems to be Dixon’s personal interpretation.
I wonder how long it will take the art world to digest this new aspect of Dixon’s persona and come to grips with its importance to Dixon’s lifework. If I had to guess how Nvorczk will be regarded in the next twelve years I would just say what I did last week as I lamented over all the great Dixon’s I had owned and sold. “l wish I had bought more and kept them!”
Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) Nvorczk, Left: Wow, Oil on Canvas, c. 1921, 14" x 16"
Right: The Face, Gouache, 8.5" x 6.5"
Collectors may wish to visit www.medicinemangallery.com to view available works by Maynard Dixon.
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Permission to reproduce photos and paintings in this online catalog secured by J. Mark Sublette. All rights reserved. No portion of this online catalog may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from J. Mark Sublette, Medicine Man Gallery, Inc.