Otis Oldfield

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Otis William Oldfield
Born(1890-07-03)July 3, 1890
Sacramento, California, U.S.
DiedMay 18, 1969(1969-05-18) (aged 78)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
EducationBest’s Art School,
Académie Julian
Occupation(s)painter, muralist, printmaker, educator
SpouseHelen Clark (m. 1926–1969; death)

Otis William Oldfield (July 3, 1890 – May 18, 1969)[1][2] was a San Francisco painter, printmaker and art educator.

Early life and education[edit]

Otis William Oldfield was born on July 3, 1890, in Sacramento, California.[1][3] He attended Sutter High School but at age 16 he dropped out of school in order to work.[4]

In 1908, he attended Best’s Art School in San Francisco,[5][4][6] operated by Alice Leveque Best and Arthur William Best. In 1911, he moved to Paris to attend Académie Julian.[5] He remained in France until 1924, then moved back to San Francisco.[5][6]


Bay Area Map (1934), one of Oldfield's frescos at Coit Tower

In 1925, Oldfield had a successful solo show at San Francisco’s Galerie Beaux Arts, an exhibit of work made while he was living in France.[5] In 1929, Oldfield had two exhibitions of San Francisco water scenes at Montross Gallery in New York City.[5][7]

The following year in 1930, Oldfield worked with architect Timothy Pflueger to create painted windows for the bar at the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange.[5] In 1934, he was one of 26 artists selected to paint murals in the newly erected Coit Tower.[8] One of his frescos there is titled Shipping Activities Inside the Golden Gate.[2]


Starting in 1925, he taught at California School of Fine Art (now San Francisco Art Institute) painting and drawing courses.[5] From 1946 until 1952 he taught at the California College of Arts and Crafts (now called California College of the Arts, or CCA).[9]

Oldfield's students included Yun Gee,[10] Richard Diebenkorn,[5] and Nathan Oliveira.[5] In addition to teaching Yun Gee, Otis Oldfield and Yun Gee were also good friends.[11][12]

Death and legacy[edit]

Oldfield died on May 18, 1969, in San Francisco, California.[2] He was survived by his wife Helen Clark Oldfield [Wikidata], who continued to paint until her death in 1981.

His work is in public museum collections include at Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco,[5] Los Angeles County Museum of Art,[13] Crocker Art Museum,[14] National Gallery of Art,[15] Smithsonian American Art Museum,[16] Metropolitan Museum of Art,[17]


  1. ^ a b "Oral history interview with Otis Oldfield, 1965 May 21". Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Hughes, Edan. "Otis Oldfield". CalArt California and American Art. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  3. ^ Wolpert, Martin; Winter, Jeffrey (2006). Figurative Paintings: Paris and the Modern Spirit. Schiffer Pub. pp. 212–213. ISBN 978-0-7643-2462-8.
  4. ^ a b "White Dress (White Nightie), 1936". Crocker Art Museum. Retrieved 2021-09-13.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Otis Oldfield". FAMSF Search the Collections. 2020-06-02. Retrieved 2021-09-13.
  6. ^ a b Burg, William (2014-09-02). Midtown Sacramento: Creative Soul of the City. Arcadia Publishing. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-62585-208-3.
  7. ^ The Arts, Volume 16. Hamilton Easter Field, Forbes Watson. Arts Publishing Corporation. 1929. p. 269.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ Smith, Harvey L. (2014-10-13). Berkeley and the New Deal. Arcadia Publishing. p. 96. ISBN 978-1-4396-4767-7.
  9. ^ "Otis Oldfield (1890-1969)". George Stern Fine Arts. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  10. ^ Kim, Elaine H.; Machida, Margo; Mizota, Sharon (2003). Fresh Talk/Daring Gazes: Conversations on Asian American Art. Univ of California Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-520-23535-9.
  11. ^ "Yun Gee: Modern Artist, Inventor, Poet, Villager - Village Preservation". www.villagepreservation.org. 2021-02-22. Retrieved 2023-11-07.
  12. ^ "Yun Gee-Yun Gee: Midjourney". July 29, 2023.
  13. ^ "Otis William Oldfield". LACMA Collections. Retrieved 2021-09-13.
  14. ^ "American Art before 1945". Crocker Art Museum. Retrieved 2021-09-13.
  15. ^ "Otis William Oldfield, American, 1890 - 1969". National Gallery of Art. Retrieved 2021-09-13.
  16. ^ "Otis Oldfield". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved 2021-09-13.
  17. ^ "Bay Bridge Series, Aloft, 1935–43". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 2021-09-13.

External links[edit]