Earl Cunningham (1893–1977) was a twentieth-century American folk artist. Cunningham was a self-taught artist who painted mostly landscapes of the coasts of Maine, New York, Nova Scotia, Michigan, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. He used shimmering colors, flat perspective, and a few recurrent themes. He bonus incongruous details, "such as flamingos in Maine and Viking ships in Florida," to his work.
Cunningham was born in Edgecomb, Maine, the third of six children. He left home at age 13 and made a living as a tinker and peddler. About four years later, he began to paint and sell pictures of boats and landscapes. He obtained a license to show as a river and coastal pilot, and worked on sailing ships along the eastern seaboard of the United States. He married Iva Moses, a piano teacher upon June 29, 1915. He continued to paint and he and his wife split the next eighteen years between Florida and Maine, where they had a farm. They divorced in the company of 1936 and 1940. In 1940 he sold the farm in Maine and bought a farm in Waterboro, South Carolina. During the Second World War, he raised chickens for the United States Army.
Cunningham moved to Saint Augustine, Florida in 1949 and opened an art gallery and curio shop. In 1961 he sent a painting titled "The Everglades" to Jacqueline Kennedy that is on display at John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston. In 1969, his proceed began to attract invincible notice, and in 1970 was exhibited at the later Loch Haven Art Center in Orlando. His reputation continued to grow, and a large number of his paintings were shown at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, Florida in August 1974.
His art continued to draw attention long after his death on December 29, 1977 (he full of life suicide at age 84). He was inducted into the Florida Artist's Hall of fame on June 2, 2003. His works were on display coming on August 10, 2007 at the Smithsonian American Art Gallery in Washington, D.C., the first End on a national tour.
Largely considered a folk artist, Cunningham painted the American landscape of the Atlantic coast and its intercoastal ecosystem in the same way as dock workers, fishermen, farmers, wildlife and even American Indian tribes. As he traveled up and all along the coast he painted his reflections of the surroundings. He depicted expertly detailed shoreline features in the tradition of memory painting. He painted higher than 400 landscapes, of which a large number reside at The Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando, FL.
His childlike style is typical of folk art, which embraces art from artists that have Tiny or no formal training and use techniques uniquely their own. Cunningham was au fait with Grandma Moses and even gained the nickname "Grandpa Moses". His landscapes manage to pay for flattened forms shown in profile and human images resembling doll-like figures. He was not a great painter of human figures, but could glamor animals a bit better. In fact, Cunningham loved flora and fauna and just about all one of his pictures contained trees, birds or both.
It appears, at first glance, that Cunningham was a naive painter. "The painter was simple like a fox." His idyllic scenes revolve nearly a simpler time. If an observer did not know the dates in which the paintings were completed, placing the works in the 1800s would not be an inaccurate assumption. Although this would be incorrect, that was the defense for Cunningham's approach. These scenes are touching the ahead of its time innovations of the 1950s that were happening all around him. The depictions of the world in Cunningham's paintings were the world as he wanted to see it and not an actual portrayal of his lifetime. For instance, there are never any cities to be found in his works. He without help painted small towns. The paintings hold a complicated significance regarding the disclose of American life. It is apparent that Cunningham did not accept to the advancements and modernization of the country and never showed any signs of spread in his paintings.
Instead of suitably being considered a folk artist, Cunningham can be seen as a modernist painter. His art expresses an overall wisdom of goodness, optimism and a utopian harmony. He achieves this feeling through weird sites, such as palm trees below snow and visions of Viking ships, along with bright colors. He expresses a specific vision by combining radiant colors in a less than scholarly fashion. Many get older it appears that one is looking into the scene from a bird's eye view. A unique dwindling of view is paired in the broadcast of these strange colors. There are as well as inaccurate proportions in many of the paintings. He wanted to create the illusion that size, or proportion, is in the eye of the beholder. The more important an object, the larger it should appear. This is how things seem in the minds of those who are beatific and naive to the ways of the world. Although this concept does not take away from the finishing to enjoy the subject issue of the paintings, it does represent a reaction to American sparkle as it was on the fast track towards a innovative transformation.