The Golden Hour, Laguna Beach

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

If you live on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, as Frank Cuprien did, the most remarkable time of day is sunset. As the sun descends toward the horizon, the extreme slainting light provides a unified monochromatic field. The light becomes softer and warmer in hue, diminishing the importance of the horizon line, visually unifying sea and sky.

Cuprien spent a lifetime perfecting his depictions of this moment of poetic reverie and quietude using tonalities of soft, golden ochre. He captured the moment between day and night, when time seems to stand still in a hazy infinity, and when the last vestiges of reflected light from the sun seem to lead toward heaven. Cuprien was also a pianist, composer, and poet. He wrote poems and musical compositions as companion pieces to many of his paintings. One of his poems called Ocean ends by pointing to this beloved aspect of the sea: “Sublime, majestic and gloriously wonderful, she rolls onward forever and ever.”

Cuprien opened his studio home to guests and the public. An article in the Los Angeles Times dated 11 September 1932 had this to say about the artist: “As a rule Frank Cuprien is a genial soul—but being very human he has his off days. There is an assortment of signs that he hangs on his attractive outer gate according to his mood: ’No Visitors.’ ‘Visitors Welcome,’ ‘Do Not Disturb Unless on Business,’ ‘Working, Do Not Disturb’ and similar others.”

The Golden Hour, Laguna Beach graces the cover of the Museum’s 2009 publication, Collecting California: Selections from Laguna Art Museum. It had just been acquired by purchase for the Museum collection and subsequently became an important inclusion in the exhibition.


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