Nicholas Brigante

Theme/Style – American Scene, Modernism, Abstraction

Media – Oils, watercolors, charcoal, india ink

Artistic Focus – Nicholas Brigante’s early landscapes reflected a Cubist influence, but as his style evolved over time he became one of Southern California’s earliest proponents of abstract and non-objective painting. Believing that watercolor painting was undervalued by the art community and the public at large, Brigante worked primarily in watercolor for the better part of his career. By producing major watercolors that were accepted as important contributions to American art, he helped cement the medium’s rightful place in the art arena.

Career Highlights –

• Born in Padula, Italy, in 1895, Nicholas P. Brigante moved to Los Angeles as a toddler, and studied landscape painting under Hanson Puthuff, Rex Slinkard and Val Costello.
• Following his service in World War I, Brigante returned home and joined a group of students, led by Stanton Macdonald Wright, in establishing a beachhead for Modernism in the Los Angeles area.
• After holding his first exhibition at what is now the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1921, Brigante studied for a year in New York, and then returned to Los Angeles. He began a series of watercolors depicting the Southern California mountains, followed by a series on the life cycle of prehistoric man.
• His earliest masterwork, the nine-panel, 21-foot-long American Scene-style Nature and Struggling, Imperious Man, also showed the artist’s interest in the Chinese aesthetic, with its use of classic Chinese painting techniques.
• In addition to his stunning watercolor paintings of the late 1920s and 1930s created in a precisionist manner, some of Brigante’s most innovative and highly recognized work was done in the 1950s and 1960s, when he created several series of watercolors - including Burnt Mountain, Cloud Lands of Abstractions, Tide Pool, Space, and Rolling Waters. Many of his paintings during this time began as black-and-white compositions, some of which received coloration. This later work was nationally exhibited, bringing deserved attention to Southern California Modernists in the process.
• Nicholas Brigante passed away in Los Angeles in 1989.