Cecil Head was born near Lebanon, Indiana and graduated from the John Herron Art Institute. He later shared a studio with Floyd Hopper and William Kaiser in the Old Union Trust Building on Market Street in Indianapolis. The group became known as the Market Street Artists. Early in his career, Head was a recipient of many art awards including the J. I. Holcomb Prize from the Indianapolis Art Association and the Ross J. Beatty Prize from the Hoosier Salon. He was one of the artists selected by Wilbur Peat, director of the John Herron Art Institute, to represent Indiana in a nationwide exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D. C. After a short time constructing airplane components during World War II, Head settled into a dual career as a commercial artist and farmer.
When Head was a Herron student, Clifton Wheeler taught still-life painting. This still life, painted about 11 years after he left Herron, displays the carefully planned composition that Wheeler considered the basis for a successful work of art. Head structures the still-life objects around an imaginary “X.” Repetition of shapes, such as the globular forms in the fruit and ceramics and the drooping hook shapes in the vase handles and dried plants, creates a fluid transition from one passage of the composition to the next. The rich, saturated colors are the painting’s most striking feature. Head uses moody notes on the color scale – turquoise, purple, salmon and green - to achieve an almost melancholic effect. The unusual copper and violet-gray finish Head applied to the frame extends the painting’s bold harmonies.
The Edge of Town: Painting the Indiana Scene, 1932-1948, Indianapolis: Indianapolis Art League, 1989. A copy of this catalog can be found in the artist’s file in the IMA’s Stout Library.