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Rita Derjue
Colorado Mountain Winter Landscape Watercolor Painting, Blue, Orange, Purple

About the Item

Colorado mountain landscape watercolor painting signed by artist Rita Derjue (1934-2020) depicts Cabins in the Snow in bright tones of blue, yellow, green and red/brown. Signed by the artist in the lower right corner. Presented in a custom frame with archival materials, outer dimensions measure 24 ⅛ x 31 ½ x 1 ¼ inches. Image sight size is 14 ½ x 21 ½ inches. About the Artist: Born Rhode Island, 1934 Artist, educator, mentor and community activist, Derjue is the daughter of European parents whose family members had previous connections with New York and New England. Her drawing talent as a youngster in Rhode Island caught the attention of family friend Johann Groen, a Dutch-born painter and photographer, who encouraged her to spend time touring and studying in Europe to further her art education. In 1956 she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Rhode Island School of Design that emphasized the fundamentals of drawing and design. Her most memorable teacher was Richard Hamilton, whose work was influenced by German Expressionist Max Beckmann and the jazz greats. Her studies from nature and Cubist compositions done at that time reflect her interest in early twentieth-century European modernist painting. She had the opportunity to experience it firsthand during a year of post-graduate work at the renowned Akademie den Bildenden Kunste in Munich, Germany, in 1956-57. She studied with Ernest Geitlinger (1895-1972) whom the Nazi government classified as a “degenerate” artist in the 1930s, preventing him from exhibiting in Germany. After World War II he was one of the co-founders of the Munich artists’ association, Neue Gruppe, in 1946 and played an important role in abstract painting. While studying with him in Munich she produced a number of canvases in a referential abstract style. She also became acquainted with the Blaue Reiter group that flourished in the early twentieth century and whose expressionism strongly influenced her color palette and painting style. She particularly admired the work of Blaue Reiter co-founder and Wassily Kandinsky’s long-time partner, Gabriele Münter, whose work she studied at the Lenbachhaus in Munich and at the Gabriele Münter Haus and the Schlossmuseum in Murnau south of Munich. Derjue’s immersion in German Expressionism imparted a bold, simplified style to her work. In 1958 with a friend from Munich she went to Mexico for a year, studying with artist Frank Gonzalez in his studio in San Angel, Mexico City, and with Canadian artist, Toni Onley, in San Miguel de Allende. Onley had recently won a scholarship to the Instituto Allende to study mural and fresco painting with David Siqueiros, one of the three greats of Mexican muralism. At the Instituto Onley began painting large black-and-white canvases in an abstract impressionistic style which he imparted to Derjue, who thereafter began exploring color and space in the dimensions of her own large compositions. With writer Gregory Strong, he subsequently published Onley’s Arctic and his autobiography, The Tony Onley Story. After returning to the United States, she worked as a graphic designer for Little, Brown and Company, publishers in Boston. She began dating her future husband, Carle Zimmerman, whom she met earlier in Europe and whom she married in 1960. Joining him at Cornell University where he was completing his Ph.D degree, she earned her Master of Arts degree at the same institution and participated in group shows at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum and the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in upstate New York. In 1963 Derjue and her husband relocated to Littleton, Colorado, where he spent his entire career, first as a research engineer and later as a departmental manager for the Marathon Oil Company. In the mid-1960s she began depicting the Colorado landscape. Due to the domestic responsibilities of her young family, she did rapid ink drawings in the field later completed at home with transparent color. As time allowed she painted plein-air watercolors in a spontaneous and colorful style, reserving her acrylics on paper and canvas for the studio during the fall and winter months when she could not work on location. Distancing herself from the mundane approaches to landscape painting prevalent in local art circles at that time, she remained connected to the contemporary art scene “by straightforward composition that arrests the eye and plays with harmonies and connections of line, form and inventive color.” Most of her work is representational in style and illuminated with lots of natural light underscored by an intimate understanding of the environments wherever she finds herself. In depicting landscapes and urbanscapes, as well as human figures and animals, she refrains from reproducing objective reality by expressing feelings and moods with large, broad brushstrokes and emphasizing planes of color - not entirely native to her subjects - informed by European Fauvism and German Expressionism. She also has learned much from two long-time friendships with Rhode Island School of Design alumnae Edith Allard, a book designer and illustrator, and Barbara Wylan, a painter, clothing designer and photographer. A skier, bicyclist and hiker with her husband, Derjue has climbed the summits of twenty-two of Colorado’s fifty-three “fourteeners” (mountain peaks with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet). She combines these outdoor activities with sketching and painting on location. For more than fifty years she has maintained a daily journal illustrated with drawings and watercolors from the twenty-five countries in which she has painted during the course of her career. Among the most memorable are Paris, Munich and Central Europe for the history of art and their museums; Mexico for the culture and climate conducive to painting; and China for its landscape and architectural heritage. She exhibited with The Nine, a group of predominantly women artists started in 1963 by Denver painter, Jeannie Pear, to provide mutual professional support and annual exhibition opportunities for its members and invited guests at various local venues. Consisting of painters, sculptors, weavers and jewelers, the group remained active until 2003. Following the organizational model of The Nine, Derjue co-founded in 1972 L’Assemblage, a female artists group in Denver that lasted ten years. She also was a signature member of the Rocky Mountain National Watercolor Society She is the subject of “Rita Derjue: An Artist’s Trail,” a long article by Barbara Whipple in American Artist Magazine (October 1980). Her work also is included in Ann Scarlett Dailey & Michael Paglia, Landscapes of Colorado: Mountains and Plains (2006) and Charles Le Clair, Art of Watercolor (1994,1999). Along with her paintings and works on paper, she executed murals for several institutions in Littleton: Eugene Field School and Lois Lenski School, as well as the City Council chambers, public library and local hospital. In 1988 she was the theater stage designer for the Friends of the Library and Museum in Littleton at the Town Hall Arts Center. Since 1964 she has taught and mentored at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton. On a grant from the Colorado Arts and Humanities Council she was an artist in residence for five months at Whittier Elementary School in Boulder in 1982. Some twenty-five students participated in her class project, learning to observe their immediate environment by doing drawings on location of the Victorian houses near their school. She later compiled her students’ work in a booklet, Where We Live. She also has taught at the White River Institute in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Outside the state she has conducted workshops at the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and for Flying Colors Art Workshops in Italy, and in Taxco and Acapulco, Mexico. In 2001 and 2004 in Valbruna, Italy, she taught Explore sessions connected with the University of Denver. In addition to her art, Derjue is a community activist, having served on the Board of Directors of the Littleton History Museum in Colorado (1972-1982); Town Hall Art Center, Littleton (1986-1990); Colorado Watercolor Society (1986, president); advisory board of the Colorado Gallery of the Arts, Littleton (1986-1991); and the South Suburban Park District, Arapahoe County, Colorado (1994). In 2008 she was honored for her preservation paintings by Historic Littleton, dedicated to preserving the historical and architectural heritage of the greater Littleton area through advocacy and education. She and her husband, Carle Zimmerman, and their two children have restored several old houses they own in the historic railroad town of Como, Colorado, and are active in the South Park National Heritage Area headquartered in nearby Fairplay. Her siblings reside in historic Westmorland, New Hampshire. Solo shows: Studio West Galleries, Littleton, Colorado (1977); “25 Year Retrospective,” Community Gallery of Art-Arapahoe Community College, Littleton, Colorado (1979); Edgar Britton Gallery, Littleton (1972, 1980); Wallach Gallery, Denver (1983); Littleton Historical Museum (1984- Retrospective, 2005-“50-Year Retrospective”); Art of Denver Gallery (1985); Colorado Governor’s Mansion (1986); “Drawings,” Colorado Gallery of the Arts-Arapahoe Community College, Littleton (1987); Panache Gallery (1988-1993); Ohio State University at Newark (1989); Loveland Museum, Loveland, Colorado (1993, 2008); Elizabeth Schlosser Fine Art, Denver (1996, 1997, 2000); DieBurg, Burghausen, Germany (2006); Artists on Santa Fe Gallery, Denver (2010); “rita derjue: An Evolving Vision,” Lone Tree Arts Center, Lone Tree, Colorado (2014); Curtis and Humanities Center, Greenwood Village, Colorado (2014); “A Decade of Paintings by Rita Derjue,” Littleton Museum, (2016) Group shows: Providence Art Club, Rhode Island (1956); Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York (1962); Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Ithaca, New York (1962); International House, Denver (1968, 1970, 1974); H.H. Matthews Gallery, Aurora, Colorado (1972); Colorado Chapter Artists Equity Association Traveling Exhibition, Boulder Public Library, Columbia Savings-Denver, and University of Southern Colorado-Pueblo (1976); “Drawings,” Loretto Heights Colorado, Denver (1981); L’Assemblage Tenth Anniversary Exhibition,” Republic National Bank, Englewood, Colorado (1982); Colorado Gallery of the Arts-Arapahoe Community College, Littleton (1986, 1989); Jewish Community Center, Denver (1987); Gilpin County Arts Association, Central City, Colorado (1987, 1991-94); Gallery of Contemporary Art-University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (1988); History Colorado Center (fka Colorado History Museum, Denver (1990-2005); Depot Art Center, Littleton (1996); Center for the Visual Arts-Metropolitan State College of Denver (1999); “Contemporary Colorado 2001,” Western Colorado Center for the Arts, Grand Junction (2001); Foothills Art Center, Golden, Colorado (2002); Lone Tree Arts Center, Lone Tree, Colorado (2004, 2011, 2014); “Landscapes of Colorado,” Center for Visual Art-Metropolitan State College of Denver and Robischon Gallery (2007); Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, Colorado (2007); “Who Let the Dog Out?,” Saks Galleries, Denver (2007); “New Trends in Watercolor,” Curtis Arts & Humanities Center, Greenwood Village, Colorado (2013). Collections: Herbert F. Johnson Museum-Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Ithaca, New York; Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence; St. Francis Hotel, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Belmar Museum, Lakewood, Colorado; Loveland Museum, Loveland, Colorado; Littleton Museum, Littleton, Colorado; U.S. West, Denver; Brown Palace Hotel, Denver; Denver Public Library Western Art Collection; Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Denver, Colorado.
  • Creator:
    Rita Derjue (1934 - 2020, American)
  • Dimensions:
    Height: 24.25 in (61.6 cm)Width: 31.5 in (80.01 cm)Depth: 1.25 in (3.18 cm)
  • Medium:
  • Movement & Style:
  • Period:
  • Framing:
    Frame Included
    Framing Options Available
  • Condition:
    very good to excellent condition.
  • Gallery Location:
    Denver, CO
  • Reference Number:
    Seller: 258551stDibs: LU27311235592
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