Summation

Richard Mayhew is known today as a major American landscape painter. He has been labeled an abstractionist, an impressionist, a romantic, and, earlier in his career, when his landscapes were highly representational, a realist. For a retrospective of his work at the Studio Museum of Harlem, the director of that museum wrote, “Color is at the heart of his métier. Color, sometimes subtle and muted, sometimes emblazoned and intense, maps out terrains, where depth, perspective, and atmosphere create complex environments.” Mayhew never works from sketches of a particular landscape, or even from memory. Instead, he says, a region or a place that he has seen “percolates” in him, and eventually “sends up feelings” which compel him to paint. The work that results, he says, “becomes a place.” Mayhew ascribes his deep responsiveness to the land to his African-American and Native American heritage: “It’s a dual commitment to nature. The land is very important to both cultures, in terms of stimulation and spiritual sensitivity, and it’s very important to me.” Richard Mayhew has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award. His work is in many major collections including the National Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.