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Warren Newcombe (1894-1960). Painter, printmaker, experimental filmmaker and an innovative, Academy Award-winning special effects designer and studio executive. Warren Newcombe was trained as a traditional fine artist in the elegant Boston School tradition. Newcombe painted sophisticated portraits initially, then worked his way to his own version of 1930s "American Scene" Regionalism while he worked as an important special effects artist Hollywood.
During the interwar period, when Warren Newcombe's career was at its peak, his paintings and prints were widely shown in solo and group exhibitions in some of America's most prestigious art galleries and museums. Today, Warren Newcombe's work is found in the permanent collection of a number of major museums. However, in the world of film he will always be best known for his development of the "Newcombe shot," which was a key component of "movie magic" during Hollywood's "Golden Age." During Warren Newcombe's forty years in the film business, Newcombe collaborated with some of the greatest directors in cinematic history, from D.W. Griffith and King Vidor to George Cukor, William Wyler and Vincente Minnelli.
As the 1930s dawned, Warren Newcombe's paintings, like those of many other American artists, had become more stylized, resulting in an iconographic, even pictographic shorthand for the natural and man-made forms he painted. Warren Newcombe was painting in the California Southland stood in vivid contrast to the atmospheric, painterly verisimilitude of the popular California landscape painters of the day. Warren Newcombe no longer saw a need to render a landscape in a tender, poetic way or to add a measure of idealization to nature. Newcombe adopted a stylized method of painting the landscape, which relied on a forced perspective. His subjects were stripped of extraneous detail and rendered in bold strokes, using broad, flat planes of color. By the early 1930s, Newcombe was exhibiting locally with other painters who shared his artistic point of view, who also represented the style of painting that came to be referred to as "Regionalism," or "American Scene" painting.
Back in California, Warren Newcombe had a series of solo exhibitions and exhibited his work with a number of new art organizations, most of which sought to combine representation with a more contemporary, modern vision. Newcombe had a solo exhibition at the Wilshire Art Gallery in 1929; then exhibited at the Pasadena Art Institute in 1930. He then sent his work to a group exhibition at the Opportunity Gallery in New York and was invited to participate in the Corcoran Gallery's 12th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting in Washington D.C in the fall of 1930.
As American Regionalism was promoted by Associated American Artists and was championed in the pages of Life Magazine, it soon won acceptance from museum curators as a uniquely American art movement. Warren Newcombe's work were exhibited across the United States, from the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, to the Cincinnati Art Museum and Chicago Art Institute in the Midwest to the Whitney Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in the East.
bio courtesy Jeffrey Morseburg