By Christian Franzen
Maynard Dixon was born on January 24th 1875 in Fresno, California. He was born into a wealthy Confederate family that had found a new home in California after the Civil War. In his youth he studied with several amateur California artists and then attended the California School of Design. After his time at school, he made his living illustrating for local newspapers and magazines.
In 1900, Dixon took a trip to Arizona and New Mexico which sparked his love for the West. He spent the following several years traveling around the Western states on horseback, painting as he went. During his western travels he also spent did a lot of illustrating for western themed books such as Hopalong Cassidy. After some small success he moved to New York for a shot while and married his first wife Constance, but soon he grew tired of the city and decided to divorce his wife and returned to the west. Upon his return he set out to paint the "honest art of the West" instead of the romanticized version so many American's knew. These themes of the West would become his trademark and his most notable works are from this period.
By 1920, Dixon was looking for a change. He married his second wife Dorthea Lange who was a notable portraitist, this had a large effect on his style. In 1925 his style looked completely different. He shifted to a more modern style with dynamic compositions and great self expression. When the Great Depression struck, Dixon painted a series of social realism paintings commenting on the state of the Nation. He and his wife both were working on a socio-political series and they decided to show them side by side, mixing photos with paintings.
Dixon divorced his second wife in 1935 and remarried in 1937. With his new wife he moved to Utah where they dwelled during most of the year. They continually revisited California and eventually built a summer home on Mount Carmel. In 1946, Maynard died in his home in Utah and then was buried atop Mount Carmel.