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Broad Street, Athens, 1940
Lamar Dodd (1909-1996)

View Artist Bio
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches
Signature Details: Lamar Dodd, '40.
Status: Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, South Carolina

A painter in styles ranging from realism to symbolic abstraction and a distinguished art educator, Lamar Dodd is widely considered the most influential Georgia painter of the twentieth century. He had a career centered in that state, although his education and career assignments took him far beyond his home in Athens. There, at the University of Georgia, he was professor and chairman of the art department, now named the Lamar Dodd School of Art.

Born in Fairburn, Georgia, Dodd was raised in LaGrange. At the age of twelve, his obvious art talent led to his acceptance as a special student at LaGrange College. After five years of study there, he received a degree at the same time he graduated from high school. He enrolled at the Georgia Institute of Technology from 1926 to 1927, and then spent time teaching in rural Alabama. In 1928, recognizing his need for expanded horizons and advanced education, Dodd matriculated at the Art Students League in New York, studying first with George Bridgeman and Boardman Robinson, and later with Jean Charlot, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry; he also took private lessons with George Luks and Charles Martin. Inspired by Benton and Curry's passion for regionalism, Dodd returned to Georgia in 1933, joining the faculty at the University of Georgia in Athens. One year later, he was named head of the department of art and shortly thereafter established a graduate program.

In his quest for subject material, Dodd traveled throughout his home state, as well as the islands and coast of South Carolina. In the 1940s, he began spending time on Monhegan Island, Maine; the following decade, he extended his travels worldwide, including Europe, the Mideast, Asia, and the Soviet Union, where he was named a cultural emissary for the State Department. This travel--especially time spent in France where he saw the work of Cezanne--had a marked influence on Dodd's work, lightening his palette and adding elements of realism and cubism to his predominantly abstract style. In the 1960s and 1970s, Dodd took on two major projects. Named an official artist for NASA for the Mercury Astronaut-9 project in 1963, he also later served as a NASA artist for numerous other rocket launchings. The second project was a series of sixty paintings entitled The Heart, which began in 1978, the result of Dodd's wife undergoing open heart surgery. Executed in the artist's later years, the series belies a growing sense of mortality. In the final two decades of his life, Dodd spent much time at Monhegan Island and also traveled throughout the United States and Europe. Many of the paintings created during this period were done in watercolor and reflect Dodd's appreciation for the natural beauty of his surroundings. 

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