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John Langley Howard

Theme/Style – Social Realism, Magic Realism, California Scene

Media – Oils, murals, illustrations, etchings

Artistic Focus – John Langley Howard used his art as a statement – a way to address the churning economic and political issues of the 1920s and 1930s. A social realist in his earlier years, Howard's work was first exhibited at San Francisco’s Beaux Arts Gallery in 1928, where a reviewer declared him to be “the poet, the mystic, and the most complex” of the Howard family of artists.

Career Highlights –

• Focused his attention in the 1930s on the region around Monterey, California – Steinbeck country – where he depicted Depression-era realities and argued through his work for social change.
• One of the artists commissioned in 1933 to paint the famed Coit Tower murals – selecting California industrial scenes as his topic. His murals were so politically charged – one, for example, showing an unemployed worker reading a Marxist newspaper – that the Towers opening was delayed at a time when longshoremen struck at the port and artists slept on the tower steps to prevent the murals’ defacement.
• His later work focused on landscape painting, creating works that one reviewer said “evoke” force some viewers find poetic, others experience as spiritual, and others catalogue under the rubric Magic Realism.