Los Angeles

“The Putnam Dana McMillan Collection”

Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara

The Putnam Dana McMillan Collection in the McCormick Gallery at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is a superb collection of 20th-century painting. (McMillan left the major portion of his fine collection to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, in his home city.) The collection represents many of the finest artists of our century. Chagall, Kokoschka, Leger, Modigliani, Picasso, Rouault, Vlaminck, Beckmann, Monet, Matisse, Vuillard and many others are included in this carefully chosen collection.

Portrait of Putnam D. McMillan, 1957, by Oskar Kokoschka is a remarkable painting, enriched with the human qualities of this rather shy man. Kokoschka’s Tower Bridge, London, is in a mature style painted on his first trip to England. The scene, which is a view from the north side of the Thames, captures the vibrant life of the river and wharf. Kokoschka was particularly interested in creating the illusion of space while ignoring the ordinary means of geometric perspective.

Maurice de Vlaminck’s turbulent The Blue House is strongly Fauve in style. The Blue House was painted in the year of the famous Salon d’Automne, and the influence of van Gogh can be seen in the strength of the color and its vigorous application.

André Derain’s St. Paul from the Thames was painted in the winter of 1906–1907, during his second trip to London. It is the last painting of his Fauve period. The Thames scenes are thought of as his best work up to that time. He chose bright unaltering pigments, applied flat to the canvas. The other Derain, The Bagpiper, 1910–1911, is considered the most lyrical picture he ever painted and is done in a quiet, tender, Arcadian mood.

Reclining Nude by Pablo Picasso, 1920, is an example of Picasso’s fine line drawings of lyric delicacy. Woman by the Sea, 1922, stems from his interest in the Hellenistic period of sculpture, and in it he achieves sculptural solidity on a two-dimensional surface by modeling with light and shadow. Placed against an empty background the figure is massive and overpowering.

The quality of the collection holds throughout and is a reflection of McMillan’s astute perceptivity and discrimination.

Harriette Von Breton