Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Salt Lake City, UT

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A Personal View of the American West: Canvases from the Collection of Dan and Susan Berman


Through August 8, 1999 the private art collection of Dan and Susan Berman will be on display at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. The paintings, which have never been publicly displayed together, represent a broad view of the American West - from the grandeur of its landscapes to the quiet dignity of the people.

Canvases from the collection of Dan and Susan Berman includes 25 diverse paintings of the American West by renown artists such as Joseph Henry Sharp, Thomas Moran, LaConte Stewart, Mahonri Mackintosh Young, and Carl Rungius to name a few. The collection spans an era of approximately 55 years, from 1875-1930. Of the artists represented in the collection, several, including its co-founder Joseph H. Sharp, belonged to the Taos Society of Artists (often referred to as the "Taos Founders") because of their dedication to the academic standards of idealistic realism.

Dan Berman has been collecting paintings of the American West genre for more than 30 years. From the time that he was a youngster in Pennsylvania, Berman remembers developing a strong appreciation of art. Relatives who were involved in the collection of antiquities used to take the young Berman on weekend jaunts in search of their next acquisitlon.

Following an education on the East Coast and a stint on Wall Street, Berman accepted a teaching position with the University of Utah Law School in the late 1960's. His subsequent relocation to Utah fueled his love of the West, and it would be there that Berman would purchase the first painting for the collection, Taos Indian Youth by Joseph H. Sharp.

Susan Berman's appreciation for the visual arts was heavily influenced by her father, the accomplished Utah artist, Victor Hugo LeCheminant. When she and Dan married nine years ago, her interest in the American West flourished. While traveling together, the Berman's enjoy visiting galleries and auction houses throughout the U.S. which specialize in the art of the American West.

According to Dan Berman, their decision to loan the art collection to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts was in essence motivated by two factors, "My extensive friendship with Frank Sanguinetti, director of The Utah Museum of Fine Arts, and the fact that Susan and I would like to share our collection with others who are interested in the paintings of this era." According to Sanguinetti, "The Bermans have a personal and intimate relationship to the paintings they have acquired. This has to do with how the paintings relate to each other, but primarily with the way paint and composition effect the quality of expressive purpose. Paintings should reflect their strong feelings about the traditions and meanings of the West, its landscapes and citizens."

The Bermans were among the earliest donors to make a significant and substantial contribution to the new Utah Museum of Fine Arts building fund. The facility, currently under construction on the University of Utah campus, is scheduled to open in 2000.

In addition to the paintings that will be exhibited, forty sketches of scenes of World War II by Victor Hugo LeCheminant will also be on display. Mr. LeCheminant, father of Susan Berman, is an accomplished artist who is recognized throughout Utah. As a liaison pilot in the 85th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army during World War II, Mr. LeCheminant documented his experiences in the Army through a sketch journal. The sketches cover a 14-month period beginning in April, 1944, during which LeCheminant served as a commissioned officer in Italy.

During his tour of duty, Lieutenant LeCheminant flew 224 combat missions and was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with five oakleaf clusters. The sketches on display chronicle the many facets of life as a soldier, and capture the charm of the Italian towns and villages where LeCheminant was stationed.

Images from the Collection of Dan and Susan Berman from top to bottom (click on thumbnail images to enlarge them): Thomas Moran, Virgin del Rio -- Southern Utah, 1917, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches; Joseph H. Sharp, Taos Indian Youth,oil on canvas, 17 x 14 inches; Eanger Irving Couse, A Brave and His Son, oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches; Carl Rungius, Alaskan Moose, oil on canvas, 25 x 34 inches; Victor Hugo LeCheminant, Villa Pereta, October 23, 1944

Read more in Resource Library about Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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