Langston Moffett, Short Cut, oil on canvas, 18 by 24 inches. Signed lower right, titled verso.

Born in Orange, New Jersey, just west of the Hudson River and New York City, Langston Moffett was the son of New York Herald staff writer and noted author, Cleveland Moffett. Langston Moffett lived in Paris for several years working as a staff reporter for the Paris Herald, interviewing visiting celebrities. In 1939 while in Provincetown on Cape Cod, Moffett decided to become an artist. Provincetown was home to Charles Hawthorne’s Cape Cod School of Art (founded 1899) and one of the leading art schools in the country.

Moffett moved to St. Augustine in 1940, becoming an active member of the Art Club of St. Augustine, serving as president in 1946-47. The St. Augustine Record, January 16, 1946, “After you have been looking at the exhibition for some time, study Langston Moffett’s ‘Near the Beginning of the Road,’ then tell us whether you see more red than blue in the color scheme or vice versa. Two of my friends had great difficulty in deciding this question…seen from one angle blue predominates, from another red. It’s a fantastic piece of design showing sound craftsmanship.”

Langston Moffett, The Usurper, oil on canvas board, 18 by 24 inches. Signed lower right, 1980, titled verso.

In March 1947 the St. Augustine Arts Club honored Moffett with a reception at the Arts Clubs Galleries, on the publication in New York of his book, Devil by the Tail, and the opening of his one-man exhibit of paintings at the Joseph Luyber Galleries in New York City. 

Moffett had a long history of alcoholism, his struggles and eventual triumph over alcohol are recorded in his book, Devil by the Tail.

The Arts Club exhibited Moffett’s “The Old and Progressive City,” a satiric commentary on the encroachment of modern commercialism into “The Ancient City.” The Record, January 4, 1948, “Moffett shows two more of his highly colored surrealistic patterns. ‘Tourist Eye-View’ is not as caustic as it might appear at first. There is resentment here, perhaps the speeding motorist breaking local laws to get to Miami; perhaps the manner in which the City’s attractions are advertised. It’s partly up to the onlooker. His ‘Inheritors’ appeals to your imagination and cannot be judged by the standards of reality.” In 1987, the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art included his work in their exhibit, Florida Eccentrics.

Born: 1903, Orange, New Jersey. Died: 1989, Jacksonville. Education: Dartmouth. Membership: St. Augustine Arts Club, president, 1947; Florida Federation of Art; Artists Guild of St. Augustine. Exhibits: Florida Federation of Art, Annual Exhibit, Bradenton, December 1940, St. Augustine Summer, Provincetown at Christmas; SAAC, Alcazar Hotel, January 1941, The New Order; SAAC, February 1945, oil; SAAC, January 1946, Near the Beginning of the Road, Coquina; March 1946, Christmas in Provincetown; SAAC, March 1947, The Old and Progressive City; Artists Guild of St. Augustine, Ponce de Leon Hotel, January 1956; SAAA, Exchange Bank of St. Augustine, February 1956, La Leche Shrine; Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art, 1987.

For more on Langston Moffett see Robert Torchia’s Lost Colony, The Artists of St. Augustine, 1930-1950.


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