Penelope, 1980. Oil on canvas. 40 x 48 inches. Crocker Art Museum, promised gift of the Artist and Gary Smith.

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What's it all about?

Exhibit Overview

The art of David Ligare (born 1945) is based on the classical principals of beauty and order. He is an idealist rather than a realist, one who seeks originality in our origins rather than our innovations. Believing that art should direct and define culture as it has in the past, he uses the images and narratives of the classical canon – the embodiment of ideals he considers fundamental to Western thought – to enliven the dialogue of contemporary art.

Since the late 1970s, Ligare has used his great technical skills and investigation of history to create what he calls “the literate picture.” In defiance of contemporary conventions, he seeks out ancient ideas that inform our modern world and shared humanity. “Making paintings is a passion for me, ” he has said, “but it is a passion of ideas rather than just pigment. I believe deeply that art can make a difference in the way we view the world, and in the way we act in it.”

Ligare grew up in Southern California. He attended the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles and lived in Big Sur and Santa Barbara before settling permanently in Monterey County. His paintings offer a vision of California and the Pacific Ocean through classical eyes—a perfect setting in which to give form to the universal, humanistic ideas that are his themes.

Support and Grants

Support for the exhibition was generously provided by Barbara and William Hyland; an anonymous donor; the John S. Knudsen Trust; Lorna Meyer Calas and Dennis Calas; the Estate of Lucian Caste with Cicely Caste and Emmett O’ Boyle; Martha Koplin in memory of Allen Koplin; Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt; Martha Drexler Lynn, Ph.D., and Robert Danziger; Stephen and Mary Mizroch; Kay and Jean Rigg; Clay Tedeschi; and the Winfield Gallery.


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