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Harvey Dunn: Imagining Others

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This exhibition was originally scheduled August 13, 2019 - May 3, 2020. It is now available here as an online exhibit. With the museum's August 17 reopening, all of these works are on display as part of  ALL DUNN: The Complete Collection, open through August 15, 2021.

In all his works, Harvey Dunn desired to go beyond the mere depiction of physical likeness, stating in his credo: “The spirit is the only thing that is true about anything. So the expression of this spirit—that is the main thing.” This exhibition celebrates Dunn’s desire to fully and deeply render truths about humanity. His instruction to students is a fitting lesson: “Feel your picture, get into it, be the character you are painting. Feel his joys, his sorrows, think him, put yourself in his shoes.”

A Privilege

“You should approach your pictures on bended knee, thanking God that you are one of those permitted to see the beauty of things. Love your pictures, don’t approach them with the attitude of being their master, but humbly, thankful of the privilege.”
–Harvey Dunn

A Universal Language

“Art is a universal language, and it is so because it is the expression of the feelings of man. Any man can look at a true work of art and feel kin to it and with him who made it— for he has the same number of heartbeats a minute, comes into the world to face the same joys, sorrows and anticipations, the same hopes and fears. A vastly different vision may arise in the consciousness at the mention of a word, but our feelings are the same. By this you may know that the Brotherhood of Man is.”
–Harvey Dunn

Paint the Smells

"Paint the smells into your picture. When you paint an old barn, smell the odors that are in old barns, old straw, manure and mice. When you paint the smells in your picture, you will have real artistic feeling in it. Don't get so intimate with your subject that you lose sight of your picture."

–Harvey Dunn

Inner Emotion

"When we see a beautiful picture let us realize that we're seeing what that man dug out of himself. If he made a beautiful picture he is beautiful inside. He couldn't do it otherwise… Let us dig down inside to find the beautiful. We all have it. Let us take our opportunities… to express what we desire of beauty."

–Harvey Dunn

One's Outlook

"If you are painting a very gruesome subject, paint it as very beautiful or see it in a humorous light. In painting a dead man, remember that he seems to be part of the ground, there is a complete absence of life."

–Harvey Dunn

The Point of View

"Never make puppets of your people, let them live their own lives. Get their point of view, after all the point of view is the most important thing."

–Harvey Dunn

Knowing the Limits

"Don't be hampered with the limitations of natural phenomena, paint your sky green and your trees pink if you feel they should be so. But know nature as it really is, grass is not often blue green, It is generally yellow green, even quite bronze sometimes. A blue sky may look quite warm, but contrast it with the ground and you may find its very cool."

–Harvey Dunn


"If you are painting a picture of romance, think romance, live romance, be full of it when you approach your canvas."

–Harvey Dunn