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Artist Profile

Frank Cuprien

1871-1948

The Pacific Ocean was, literally and figuratively, an enormous theme for outdoor painters in Southern California. Sparkling and jewel-like in one moment, a deep, dusky ocean green the next, the sea was both a technical and interpretive challenge whether cast in shadowed moonlight or extravagant sun. Its apparent simplicity—the basic bifurcation of earth and sky—was deceptive; it could be impossible to paint. One of its most ardent pictorial champions was Frank Cuprien, an artist who begged the poetry out of the waves with his disciplined, yet overtly romantic, approach to painting.

Frank Cuprien was born in Brooklyn, New York, and honed his impressive academic skills first at the Art Students League and then with study abroad in Paris, Munich, and Leipzig. When he settled in Laguna about 1912, Cuprien established a home studio overlooking the Pacific where he painted the ocean by day and gave musical recitals in the evenings. Indeed, the artist’s sense of pictorial composition was surely affected by his serious study of music, which he pursued for years alongside painting. For this musician and painter, the ocean inspired meditation and calm, and offered the opportunity for reverie. Just as a musician never tires of finding endless variety in the limited number of notes on a scale, Frank Cuprien never tired of interpreting the endless variations of light, color, and composition to be found at land’s end. When he died in 1948, he left his estate to the Laguna Beach Art Association, further promoting the arts in the town where he had been a popular leader, colleague, and greatly admired artist.

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Work

Works in Our Collection

Frank Cuprien
It Rained the Next Day, Sunset #5
Oil on Masonite, 1938
9 x 12 inches
Gift of the Frank W. Cuprien Estate
1948.012

Frank Cuprien
Sunset #2
Oil on Masonite, 1938
9 x 10 inches
Gift of the Frank W. Cuprien Estate
1948.011

Frank Cuprien
Day After it Rained
Oil on Masonite, 1938
10 x 12 inches
Gift of the Frank W. Cuprien Estate
1948.010

Frank Cuprien
Sunset #4
Oil on canvas, 1938
9 x 12 inches
Gift of the Frank W. Cuprien Estate
1948.009

Frank Cuprien
Sunset #3
Oil on Masonite, 1936
9 x 10 inches
Gift of the Frank W. Cuprien Estate
1948.019

Frank Cuprien
Blue Sky and Sea
Oil on Masonite, 1930
10 x 12 inches
Gift of the Frank W. Cuprien Estate
1948.018

Frank Cuprien
Laguna Sunset
Oil on cardboard, 1930
11 x 14 inches
Gift of the Frank W. Cuprien Estate
1948.016

Frank Cuprien
Untitled, sunset
Oil on canvas, mounted on upson board, 1929
10 x 10 1/2 inches
Gift of the Frank W. Cuprien Estate
1948.015

Frank Cuprien
Study for My Citadel
Oil on Masonite, 1925
8 x 9 3/4 inches
Gift of the Frank W. Cuprien Estate
1948.004

Frank Cuprien
The Golden Hour, Laguna Beach
Oil on board, c. 1923
24 x 28 inches
Museum purchase with funds provided from prior gift of the Carl S. Dentzel Estate and Frances G. Emmons
2009.001