Oscar Jacobson, “Djidjelli, Algeria,” 1926

Oscar B. Jacobson (1882-1966, Swedish American) received a B.A. from Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS (1908) before continuing his studies in Sweden, Denmark, and at the Louvre in Paris. Jacobson received his M.F.A. from Yale University (1916) and returned to Bethany College for his doctorate of fine arts in 1941. He is most well known for his association with the Kiowa Five – James Auchiah, Spencer Asah, Jack Hokea, Stephen Mopope, and Monroe Tsatoke. As a supporter of French Modernist art in his time, Jacobson appreciated the flat style he saw in Kiowa paintings. He took the Five – initially including a sixth, female artist, Lois Smokey – under his wing and invited them to study at OU, where he served as director of the OU School of Fine Arts from 1916 to 1945. The young artists were encouraged to paint in a flat style, and they became world-famous as participants in the newfound zeal for Plains Indian art.

Oscar Jacobson, "Djidjelli, Algeria," 1926. Oil on canvas, Gardiner Permanent Art Collection.

Jacobson was also a technical advisor to President Roosevelt’s Public Works of Art project in Oklahoma. Through his influence, many murals were commissioned from Indian artists for Oklahoma post offices and schools, as well as a public building in Washington, DC. The house he built in Norman, OK, is now a Native Art Center used to exhibit Native American art. The Kiowa tribe made him an honorary chief and he was inducted into Oklahoma’s Hall of Fame in 1949.

In Djidjelli, Algeria, his appreciation for modernism is apparent through his use of simplified geometric forms to present a landscape within his perspective as an artist. Djidjelli, Algeria reminds the viewer of Paul Cezanne’s revolutionary ideas, beginning Modernism with a focus on redefining the purpose of art. Experimenting with a simplification of familiar forms into geometrical assortments for the sake of depicting an artist’s personal and individual perspective, Cezanne’s influence can be seen in Jacobson’s Algerian landscape. Jacobson toys with the repetition of triangular forms to create rocks, waves, mountains and clouds while maintaining the illusion of space in the painting’s values and hues.

Further Reading:

Dary, David. “Jacobson Brought Kiowa Five to World Prominence.” The Norman Transcript. CNHI, 31 Aug. 2007. Web. 25 Oct. 2010.

“Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.” Oklahoma State University – Library – Home. Web. 25 Oct. 2010.

“Section IIB: Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Properties Associated with Significant Persons, National Register of Historic Places Bulletin (Nrb 32).” U.S. National Park Service – Experience Your America. Web. 25 Oct. 2010.

Author Maggie Munkholm was a student in ART 3683: History of Twentieth Century Art in Fall 2010.



About osucurator

Louise Siddons is Associate Professor of Art History at Oklahoma State University and founding curator of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. She maintains this blog as a record of her students' work with the Museum's permanent collection as well as more generally with topics related to museum studies.
This entry was posted in permanent collection, student research, student writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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