David Abbey Paige

American, 1901–1979
Halo; Wing of the Fokker airplane crashed on March 12, 1934
Oil on board
16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm)
Courtesy of The Ohio State University Archives, Papers of Admiral Richard E. Byrd, 455-53

Scientific inquiry and the American presence in Antarctica was pioneered by Admiral Richard Byrd (1888–1957), who led five expeditions to the continent from 1928 to 1956. The explorer’s accomplishments garnered widespread media attention and captured the public’s imagination.

David Abbey Paige became the official artist on Byrd’s second voyage after completing a large cyclorama painting of the explorer’s expedition base camp for Luna Park in New York City’s Coney Island. He introduced himself as the “Official Artist on the Scientific Staff for Color Research.”

Many of Paige’s pastels highlight the importance of air power to the history of polar exploration and imagery. In Halo…, the artist depicts a disastrous takeoff from base camp and interprets parahelion, an optical phenomenon that occurs when ice particles in the air refract light from the sun. Figures are mere specs that provide scale within this mystical landscape.

 

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