Edwin Walter Dickinson

American, 1891 - 1978

Edwin Dickinson was born in Seneca Falls, NY. The artist studied with William Merritt Chase and with Charles W. Hawthorne.  Most of his working life was spent in Cape Cod and in New York City.  He taught principally at New York's Art Students' League as well as other art schools, colleges, and universities.

Dickinson was an American painter and draftsman best known for psychologically charged self-portraits, quickly painted landscapes (which he called premier coups), and large, hauntingly enigmatic paintings involving figures and objects painted from observation in which he invested his greatest time and concern. His drawings are also widely admired and were the subject of the first book published on his work. Less well known are his premier coup portraits and nudes, his medium-sized paintings done entirely from imagination or incorporating elements from one of his drawings or done from observation over several days or weeks, including still lifes, portraits of others, both commissioned and not.

His style of painting, which eschewed details in favor of close attention to the relationships between masses of color, was strongly influenced by the example of his teacher Charles W. Hawthorne. The strange juxtapositions and perplexing hints of narrative in his large compositions have been compared to Surrealism, and his premier coups often approach abstraction, but Dickinson resisted being identified with any art movement.

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