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Image of Inside the Map

Inside the Map

45 1/2 x 63 1/2 in. (115.57 x 161.29 cm)

Gordon Onslow-Ford (Wendover, England, 1912 - 2003, Inverness, California)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Casein on brown paper
Credit Line: Museum purchase with funds contributed by the Collection Committee, in honor of Deborah Rappaport, President of the Board of Trustees, 2001-2007
Accession Number: 2007.26

SJMA Label Text

Local Color (2012-2013)

Gordon Onslow-Ford, along with Lee Mullican (1919 – 1998) and Wolfgang Paalen (1905 – 1959), were the only members of the short-lived art movement they called Dynaton. Derived from the Greek word for “the possible,” Dynaton was meant to connote “a potential concept of reality” where painting became an adventure into the unimagined. The artists combined ideas from Surrealism with Native American mythology and imagery and Eastern philosophies, such as Zen Buddhism. The group’s efforts culminated in an exhibition of their work at the San Francisco Museum of Art (now SFMOMA) in 1951.

Inside the Map is characteristic of Onslow-Ford’s paintings from the 1950s, when he spent time walking through the redwood groves in Muir Woods. Onslow-Ford acknowledged the inspiration: “I’ve been tremendously influenced by these woods. These trees, everything you see, is inside me and with me when I paint.” The various lines, circles, and dots in this painting are related to his observations of the natural world. Unlike his East Coast counterparts, who believed paint was paint, Onslow-Ford believed it to be colored light. His geometric patterns suggest the experience of evanescent sunlight streaming through the branches of trees.


Local Color, July 26, 2012 - January 13, 2013, New Wing, Second Floor, Central Skylight and South Metro A Galleries, San José Museum of Art.

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  • Image Dimensions: 45 1/2 x 63 1/2 in. (115.57 x 161.29 cm)

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