Benjamin Frazier Cunningham

Ben Cunningham, oil painting, Ultraviolet Hallucination I, 1959
Ben Cunningham, oil painting, Ultraviolet Hallucination I, 1959
Ben Cunningham, oil painting, Ultraviolet Hallucination I, 1959
Ben Cunningham, oil painting, Ultraviolet Hallucination I, 1959

Benjamin Frazier Cunningham

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Ultraviolet Hallucination I, 1959

  • Acrylic on canvasboard; original frame

  • Board: 24" high x 18" wide

  • Frame: 26.5” high x 20.25” wide

  • Signature: Signed and dated lower right; pencil-inscribed by artist verso with title, artist’s name, and his New York address

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About the work

This painting is referenced on page 45 of “Ben Cunningham, A Life with Color” by Cindy Nemser, JPL Art Publishers, 1989. Nemser explains that Ultraviolet Hallucination I represents Cunningham’s effort to depict what we would see if the “film” (visual limitation) was removed and ultraviolet was visible to the human eye. She notes that the forms presented in the work are secondary to the viewer’s experience of color.   

Ben Cunningham (1904 - 1975) was born in Cripple Creek, Colorado. He spent his childhood in Reno, Nevada, and later attended the University of Nevada. In 1934 he was one of 26 artists commissioned by the Public Works of Art Project to paint murals in San Francisco's Coit Tower. He later served as an art director for the northern California Federal Arts Project. 

In 1944, Cunningham settled in New York City where he taught at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and eventually painted Ultraviolet Hallucination I.   

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