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Oscar Edmund Berninghaus
Red Pepper Time
about 1930
25 x 30 1/16 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Arvin Gottlieb

Berninghaus once stated that “the painter must first see his picture as paint—as color—as form. He must see with an inner eye, then paint with feeling, not with seeing.” In Red Pepper Time, the mountains rise dramatically behind the town of Lavacita, New Mexico, and the animated texture of the desert plateau becomes a tapestry of dark paint. The red of the newly harvested peppers, set against the pueblo's dull buff wall, rivets our attention. While such vividness is certainly an accurate evocation of the pepper's strong flavor, the painting's colorful contrasts also infuse an everyday scene with strong emotional content.