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Cameron Booth (1892-1980)
A prominent painter in both Regionalist and Abstract Expressionist styles, Cameron Booth had a national career from the 1920s through the 1970s and has been called the dean of Minnesota artists. Booth was born in Erie, Pennsylvania and studied art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1912-1917). While a student in Chicago, he attended the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art, later known simply as the Armory Show, which introduced avant-garde styles from Europe to America. Booth became interested in Picasso, Cezanne, and Braque and stayed in France after serving in World War I, to further his studies.
In 1921, he came to Minnesota to teach at the Minneapolis School of Art (now the Minneapolis College of Art and Design) and found new subject matter in Minnesota's landscapes, farms and Indian peoples. In the spring of 1922 Booth was awarded first prize by the Minnesota State Art Society with his oil entitled “Horses and Men.” He returned to Europe in 1927 and 1928 to study with Cubist Andre L’hote in Paris and influential German artist Hans Hoffmann in Munich, absorbing modernism at its European source.
In 1929, he returned to Minnesota to teach at the St. Paul School of Art, now the Minnesota Museum of American Art. He was appointed director of the school in 1931, presenting several exhibitions of contemporary avant-garde art during his tenure. Late in 1933 he also became involved with the federal government’s Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) in Minnesota. He was appointed chairman of the committee to review and select sketches submitted by artists on the theme, “The American Scene.” In 1942 Booth achieved a milestone in national recognition by winning the coveted Guggenheim Fellowship, enabling him to travel and paint throughout the American West.
Following his western sojourn, he taught modernist ideas and methods for several years at the Art Students League in New York. Booth returned to Minnesota in 1948 and became an important teacher at the University of Minnesota, where his many students included Pop artist James Rosenquist. During this time he also served as Visiting Artist at the University of California at Berkeley. In following decades he painted in a thoroughly Abstract Expressionist mode. A traveling exhibition of Booth's abstract paintings was organized by the American Federation of Arts and circulated nationally, starting in 1961.
Booth’s work employs color as a means of communicating feeling and emotion as it seeks to balance vision and expression. His love of the outdoors and understanding of nature permeate his art.
His work is represented in collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Museum of Modern Art, NY, and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, as well as many other museums and private collections.
His residence in Minneapolis spanned the period from 1921 until his death in 1980.
Cameron Booth is featured, along with three other renowned Minnesota artists (Dewey Albinson, Clement Haupers, and Elof Wedin), in a book entitled "Minnesota Modern - Four Artists of the Twentieth Century." This beautiful book, published by Afton Press, is available for purchase at Gallery 5004.