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Rexford Elson Brandt (August 12, 1914 - March 21, 2000) was an American painter who belonged to the 20th century art movement known as California Scene Painting.

Education and careerEdit

Rexford Elson Brandt, known as 'Rex', was born in San Diego, California, and grew up in Riverside.[1] He attended Riverside Junior College and went on to get his bachelor's degree at the University of California, Berkeley.[1] He did his graduate work at Stanford University.[2] He was influenced by Hans Hoffman, John Haley, and Margaret Peterson, all of whom taught at UC Berkeley at that time, as well as by Chinese art.[1][3]

Brandt painted seascapes and landscapes in oil and watercolor, with the latter being his strongly preferred medium.[2][3][1] Like other exponents of California Scene Painting, he tended towards a romanticized view of his state as an untroubled land of rolling hills, tranquil fields, scenic coasts, and boat-filled seascapes.[2] He organized one of the first group exhibitions of California Scene painters in 1937,[1] and has been called a "central figure" in mid 20th century California art.[2][3] Over the decades, especially after World War II, his style evolved towards greater abstraction and a focus on the effects of light rather than literal representation.[1][3]

He also designed the official seal of the city of Newport Beach.

Brandt taught art for many decades. With fellow California painter Phil Dike, he set up the Brandt-Dike Summer School at his house in Corona del Mar.[2] He wrote more than ten books on art technique, including volumes on watercolor and on landscape painting.[2][1]

He died at home of a stroke or heart attack.[2]

Retrospective exhibitions have been mounted by the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum in 2000 and the Laguna Art Museum in 2014.[3][1] His work is held in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among other institutions.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Brandt was married to painter Joan Irving (d. 1995), who helped run the Brandt-Dike Summer School.[2] They had two daughters, Joan and Shelley.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Rex Brandt: In Praise of Sunshine". Laguna Art Museum website, June 29-September 21, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gottlieb, Jeff. "Landscape Painter Rex Brandt Dies". Los Angeles Times, March 23, 2000.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Chang, Richard. "Laguna Museum presents 60 years of Rex Brandt". Orange County Register, July 20, 2014.