Ben Messick (1891-1981) is celebrated for his images of life in Los Angeles during the years of the Great Depression and World War II.
He grew up in the Missouri Ozarks, served in France in World War I, studied at the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles from 1925 to 1930, and later taught there. Through most of the 1930s and 1940s Messick lived in a studio apartment at 2600 West 8th Street, and everyday scenes in the nearby MacArthur Park (originally Westlake Park) were among his favorite subjects. Other happy hunting-grounds were Pershing Square and Olvera Street.
For the expression and humor he brought to his paintings, drawings, and lithographs of ordinary Angelenos, he has been compared to Honoré Daumier, the keen-eyed chronicler of life in nineteenth-century Paris. The museum owns a number of Messick’s drawings and lithographs, here supplemented with works on loan from other Southern California collections, including three of his finest paintings.
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