Theme/Style – Figurative art, portraits, still lifes, murals, frescos, set design
Media – Oils
Artistic Focus – Buckley MacGurrin’s engaging combination of European training and American vigor is evident in both his handsome, sensual figure paintings and his richly colored still lifes. Critics noted the “care and skill” in his strong brushstrokes, and the “suave and deep” hues that were his hallmark. MacGurrin’s work with the Federal Art Project is also significant, not only for the numerous murals and other public works he created, but also for the generation of younger artists he taught and inspired.
Career Highlights –
- Buckley MacGurrin was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1896. Moving west with his family, he attended high school in Santa Clara, California after which he enrolled at UC Berkeley. While in Berkeley, MacGurrin also took night classes in life drawing at the School of the California Guild of Arts and Crafts (later renamed the California College of Arts and Crafts), and among his instructors were Perham Nahl and Xavier Martinez.
- After just one semester of school, MacGurrin joined the Navy, serving for two-and-a-half years during WWI. Following the war, MacGurrin returned to Berkeley and graduated in 1922, after which he moved to Hollywood and began working as a designer for the movie studios.
- Deciding to become a full-time artist, MacGurrin moved to Paris to further his studies, remaining there from 1922-1933. He attended the Académie Colarossi, where he studied under Richard Miller, Charles Guerin, and his primary mentor and close friend, Henri Morisset. In 1926 he was invited to exhibit at the Salon des Tuileries. That same year he also exhibited at the Salon des Humoristes, and the Salon du France at the Gallery Armand Drouant, at which one of MacGurrin’s paintings was acquired by the French State. He would continue to exhibit at the Salon des Tuileries for seven more years, the remainder of his time in France.
- In 1933 he returned to the U.S., spending six months in New York before moving back to Los Angeles. His work was represented by the Stendahl Galleries, where MacGurrin also kept a studio; and his first one-man show took place there in 1933. Around 1937, MacGurrin changed gallery representation to the Dalzell Hatfield Galleries. He also continued to exhibit in Paris, showing his work there at the Salon d’Automne from 1929-1937.
- MacGurrin also worked for Paramount Pictures during this time, designing sets and props for the renowned director Cecil B. De Mille.
- He worked on the first Federal Art Project in 1933, executing murals around Los Angeles, including one in the cafeteria of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art called “Gastronomy Through the Ages.” In 1934 MacGurrin was invited to work on the second Federal Art Project, eventually becoming the supervisor for Los Angeles County and Santa Barbara, and in 1937 Federal Art Project murals by MacGurrin, Helen Lundeberg, and Lorser Feitelson were unveiled at Los Angeles’s Hall of Records.
- After leaving the Federal Art Project in 1938, MacGurrin exhibited with Feitelson, Lundeberg, and others in a show of modern paintings at Stendahl Galleries in 1941, and at the Pasadena Art Institute in 1947. In 1948 MacGurrin took a one-year position as an instructor at the San Antonio Art Institute in Texas, while continuing to maintain a residence in southern California.
- After a painting sojourn in France in 1952, MacGurrin exhibited at the Dixi Hall Gallery in Laguna Beach in 1955, along with Millard Sheets, Dan Lutz, Alfredo Ramos Martinez, and Sueo Serisawa.
- MacGurrin’s work is represented in the collections of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN; San Gabriel Mission; LACMA (cafeteria mural); LA County Hall of Records; Santa Paula High School; Long Beach Public Library; Museum of Natural History (LA); and the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas.
- Buckley MacGurrin passed away in Los Angeles in 1971.
Bibliographic references are available upon request.