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Veterans Day & William Wendt

November 11, 2008 | 12:33 pm

William_wendt_3 In honor of Veterans Day the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's blog, Unframed, is highlighting three relevant works from its collection. One is an apparently blissful 1917 landscape by William Wendt, "The Mantle of Spring," whose lush and sunny California hills are presented as "a poignant metaphor for rebirth and renewal after the devastation of war." The picture was a 1921 gift to the museum from area women's clubs, in honor of fallen American soldiers in World War I, as well as the mothers who lost sons.

Wendt's paintings partly document a landscape trembling on the brink of disappearance, as Southern California began its transformation into a modern 20th century powerhouse. The artist believed that nature was paramount as a manifestation of God, and if you look at the composition of "The Mantle of Spring" you'll notice that everything spirals outward from a tree at the exact center of the canvas--a veritable tree of life, fed by the stream and the sun.

If you want to see this particular Wendt, however, you'll have to visit the Laguna Art Museum rather than LACMA -- at least through Feb. 8. On Sunday Laguna opened "In Nature's Temple: The Life and Art of William Wendt," a survey of 60 paintings spanning half a century, from 1886 to 1936. (A handsome, hefty catalog was jointly published with the Irvine Museum, which specializes in early California painting.)

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--Christopher Knight

Photos: Museum Associates, LACMA; Laguna Art Museum

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