Biggs Museum of American Art

Dover, Delaware



Harvey Dunn: Illustrator, Teacher, Painter: Selections from the Kelly Collection of American Illustration


"Harvey Dunn: Illustrator, Teacher, Painter: Selections from the Kelly Collection of American Illustration" is the current exhibition at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, Delaware, running now through Sunday, August 19, 2001. The South Dakota-born Dunn (1884-1952) studied at Howard Pyle's School of Art in Wilmington and is known for his paintings of the American West, his illustrations, and his role as a teacher. At age 22, Dunn took what he had learned, with heavy influences from Pyle, and started illustrating for The Saturday Evening Post, Harper's New Monthly and Scribner's magazines from his new personal studio. (left: Harvey Dunn, Self-Portrait, Kelly Collection of American Illustration; right: Harvey Dunn, The Way of the Torch, oil on canvas, 34 x 38 inches, Kelly Collection of American Illustration)

A contemporary of Newell Convers Wyeth and Frank E. Schoonover, Dunn started the Leonia School of Illustration in New Jersey when he was 30 years old with fellow artist Charles Shepard Chapman. Dunn continued to teach throughout his career, always touting Pyle's methods. Though his experiences in World War One changed his focus, as reflected in his turn to Impressionism, the influence from Pyle was always evident and Dunn transferred this to his students. Represented in the exhibition will be works from some of those students, including Dean Cornwell James Allen, Frank Street, Saul Tepper, Arthur Davenport Fuller, and Meade Schaeffer.


Wall text from the exhibition...

From 1904-06, Harvey Dunn studied under artist Howard Pyle in Wilmington, Delaware and at Pyle's summer studio in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. In 1915, after several years on his own, Dunn and Charles S. Chapman opened the Leonia School of Illustration in New Jersey. Frank Street, Dean Cornwell, and Arthur Fuller were among his first students there. Although the school was short-lived, Dunn continued to teach in an informal way. In 1926, Dunn taught a class at Grand Central School of Art in New York in which Saul Tepper participated. Looking for similarities in the work of Dunn and his students in this exhibition, it is important to understand Dunn's teaching philosophy. As a teacher, Dunn continued in the tradition of Howard Pyle and focused on ideas rather than technique. "Howard Pyle did not teach art. Art cannot be taught, any more than life can be taught," declared Dunn. "Pyle did, however, lay constant stress upon the proper relationship of things. His main purpose was to quicken our souls that we might render service to the majesty of simple things." Many of Dunn's quotes about teaching and art were recorded by his students, a testament to his inspirational teaching ability. (left: Harvey Dunn, No Rain Fell, 1924, oil on canvas, 26 x 42 inches, Kelly Collection of American Illustration; right: Harvey Dunn, Buffalo Bones Plowed Under, oil on canvas, 24 x 40 inches, Kelly Collection of American Illustration)

Here are some of our favorite "Dunnisms":

"Art schools teach complexities, I teach the simplicities. The only purpose in my being here is to get you to think pictorially."
"Paint a little less of the facts and a little more of the spirit. Paint more with feeling than with thought; when intellect comes in, art goes out."
"In making a picture, you should excite interest, not educate. Let the colleges do that. "
"Good enough is no damn good."
"Art is the music to which the common facts of life are played."


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For biographical information on artists referenced in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

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