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Alexander Nepote & Darwin Musselman

Dialects of Expression.

Steve Musselman, MA Art History, Boston University 1979

Although my sister Carol and brother Ronald (who were both born in the San Francisco Bay Area) have greater recollections of our father's friendship with Alex (and Hanne Lore) Nepote, I can't help but notice the artists' similar paths and visions. As with Braque and Picasso, they were schooled in the same formal tradition, shared life experiences and expressed their vision in styles made similar due to their environment and kinship.

Alexander Nepote - Colorful Cliff Grotto

In reading the biographical summary by McClelland and Lay (op cit), one could almost substitute Darwin Musselman for Alexander Nepote. "Alexander Nepote was a native Californian, born and raised in the Central Valley. In the 1930's, he studied art at the California College of Arts and Crafts and then went on to receive his master's degree in fine arts from Mills College. When World War II broke out, Alexander was thirty-nine. He worked in the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond. After the war, he became a professor and Dean of the Faculty at the California College of Arts and Crafts, and then served as Art Professor at California State University, San Francisco."

Musselman - Large Grey Rocks on the Kings 1961

Of course, Darwin too was born and raised in the Central Valley, studied at Arts and Crafts, and was tutored under the artist in residence programs at Mills College. Like Alex, Dad worked in the Richmond shipyards during the war, was an instructor and administrator at Arts and Crafts and then served as Professor at CSUF California State University, Fresno - for some 26 years.

To compare their work, one can see similarity between the two, and also see the road map for Darwin's progression from abstract to non-objective. Like Braque, Picasso and Darwin's mentor Feininger, Musselman could break down objects and depth and convert to pure shape, color, form and balance. His shift from abstract to non-objective was not abrupt, but rather a natural transition in his visual expression.

Musselman - Large Grey Rocks on the Kings 1961

Be it a Braque or Picasso, or a Nepote or Musselman, one can identify the hand and vision not from formula, but from understanding their shared culture and training which shaped their own dialects of expression in parallel.

Musselman and Nepote -

1950 exhibition, Miami

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