Tarble Arts Center
Eastern Illinois University
Paul Turner Sargent
An exhibition of paintings by Paul Sargent is on view through January 16, 2000 at the Tarble Arts Center, Eastern Illinois University. Featured are landscapes dating from 1918 through 1945 selected from the Tarble Arts Center permanent collections. Admission is free and the public is invited.
This exhibition of paintings by Charleston's noted landscape painter is presented on the 120th anniversary of his birth and on the 50th anniversary of the founding of EIU's permanent collection of art. Some of the paintings were among the first art work collected by the university. The first printing of Sargent's 1933 autobiography accompanies the exhibition.
Paul Turner Sargent was the seventh of John and Maria Anna Turner Sargent's nine children. Paul was born, raised, and died at the Sargent family farm in Hutton Township near Charleston. His father and grandfather, Stephen Sargent, were prominent and successful farmers who valued education. In 1893 Paul 's father left to join the Koreshan religious sect in Estero, Florida. Maria Anna Sargent took over running the farm and household, which she was able to do without sacrificing her children's education.
Paul Sargent studied for a year at United Brethren College (Westfield, Illinois) before transferring to Charleston's Eastern Illinois State Normal School (now Eastern Illinois University) in 1900. While at Eastern Sargent was encouraged to develop his art. He graduated in 1906 and later that year enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago. After completing his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1912, Sargent worked as a free-lance artist in Chicago for a few years. He returned to his rural homestead where, except for his travels, he lived for the rest of his life.
In 1920 Sargent began associating with the Brown County (Indiana) artist colony. Thereafter Sargent visited Brown County every fall but three until his death and was a charter member of the Brown County Artist Association. He was allowed to participate in the Hoosier Salon, first held at Marshall Field's in Chicago and later in Indianapolis, for over 20 years. He also participated in the Chicago Art Institute's annual Chicago Artists Exhibition between 1911 and 1923.
During his life time Sargent's work was also shown at the University of Illinois (College of Fine and Applied Arts), Brown County Art Association Gallery (Nashville, Indiana), The Sheldon Swope Gallery (Terre Haute, Indiana), Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana), Liebers Art Gallery (Indianapolis, Indiana), and Eastern Illinois State Teacher's College.
Sargent's early style of academic realism, characterized by subdued color and heavy paint application, gradually gave way to a more Impressionistic approach, possibly as a result of his association with the Brown County artists. His desire was to "get the color right," as Sargent is quoted as saying. Though sometimes referred to as a Midwest Impressionists, Sargent never considered himself a modern artist. He was more interested in the expressiveness of Impressionism rather than its modernist theories concerning color and light. Fundamentally, Sargent remained a Romantic rather than an Impressionist throughout his career.
Paul Sargent died of heart failure in 1946. He was given a posthumous solo exhibition in Eastern Illinois University's Old Main later that year. Paintings acquired from that exhibition and other sources formed the beginnings of Eastern's permanent collection of art. The university's first art gallery, opened as a part of Booth Library in 1950, was named the Paul T. Sargent Gallery. The gallery retained this name in various locations until it was subsumed by the Tarble Arts Center in 1982. Through the efforts of Sargent enthusiasts a gallery within the Tarble continues to bear the name Paul T. Sargent.
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