John Ford Clymer (1907-1989) Onslaught 15 x 30in

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Lot 60
John Ford Clymer
(1907-1989)
Onslaught 15 x 30in

Sold for US$ 225,075 inc. premium
John Ford Clymer (1907-1989)
Onslaught
signed 'John Clymer CA' (lower right) and titled (on the reverse)
oil on Masonite
15 x 30in

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Mr. and Mrs. Joe Beeler, Sedona, Arizona.

    Exhibited
    Wickenberg, Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Frank Polk & Friends, January 19 - February 13, 1990.

    As an illustrator John Clymer's success was in no small part due to his ability to convey complex narratives. The Onslaught depicts a buffalo hunt in the red dust of western North Dakota. Through deliberate compositional decisions and brilliant use of color, Clymer captures this chaotic moment. Given time, a number of important details inform the viewer. The falling buffalo has two arrows in its side just behind the shoulder, one perhaps a bit high and the second perhaps too shallow. The hunter is preparing a third shot as the animal falls. Two calves break away from the herd lower left to the right of the hunter. Clymer conveys that the hunter's horse is in a difficult moment, its mouth is wide and the white of its eye is visible as it shifts in the same direction as the calves – out of the path of the buffalo falling midstride. One terrified animal center has raised the front of its body high — practically climbing his fellow herd member to his left as he breaks away from the fallen. Further to the right in the distance a similar scene is playing out as two other hunters attack the right flank of another group of the massive herd.

    Color, like composition, is critical to the success of Onslaught. All the action is staged by Clymer amongst the season's green plants in the foreground. The sharply defined greens contrast with the loose and massive reddish cloud of dust kicked into the blue sky by the fleeing sea of buffalo. The red dust cloud emphasizes not just the size of the herd as it churns the land but also the speed at which they move. The reddish tone is already present in the shadows of the green plants, the hides of the buffalo and echoed in the pink highlights of the hills in the distance. The herd is massive but the landscape even more so. The unification of the scene via color is central to Clymer's technique, as he put it: "When I start to paint, I always keep in mind that my subject – person or animal – has to be influenced by the color and mood of the setting and atmosphere of the picture."1

    1 W. Reed, John Clymer: An Artist's Rendezvous With the Frontier West, Flagstaff, Northland Press, 1976, p. 140.
Contacts
John Ford Clymer (1907-1989) Onslaught 15 x 30in
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