Oklahoma Barbershop


James Brooks ( American, 1906 - 1992 )

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General Description

One of the artist's first paintings, this work is severe-both compositionally and in terms of its color scheme. This can be attributed to Brooks' early teacher in Dallas, Martha Simkins, a former student of the American impressionist William Merritt Chase. Chase favored low-key color schemes, which were thought to derive from his interest in the French 19th-century artist Edouard Manet's "dark impressionism." These brooding tonalities are entirely appropriate for the subject of this painting. In the thirties, during the Depression, there was a widespread preoccupation among artists with architectural decay and desolation. Brooks' ability to combine the influences of local regionalists like Thomas Hart Benton and precisionists such as Charles Sheeler earned the artist immediate recognition, both at home (Brooks was awarded a first prize for lithography by the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in 1933) and elsewhere.