Label Text: Zoltan Sepeshy was born in Hungary and spent many years, until he died, as instructor and later president of Cranbrook Institute. He often painted the Michigan dune country. This picture is dominated by a monstrous, sunbleached, sand polished tree root, a dramatic form of nature studied in fascinating detail. The lighthouse of the title is, ironically, barely visible in the background. Sepeshy paints using translucent layers of tempera over laid through a hatching process to obtain the desired shading and intensity.
The following label text was written for Perspectives on Place, 2008
For many years, Michigan has meant for me the blue lakes, the sand, the driftwood, the fishing nets, the boats of all sorts and sizes-the water that surrounds the State. This is Michigan on its periphery, but it is the distinctive Michigan that I have sought summer after summer.
Zoltan Sepeshy c. 1948
Though Lighthouse on Lake Michigan is realistically painted, objects are arranged to emphasize their abstract qualities. The whorls and points of a piece of driftwood-an abstract study in greys and whites-are the true subject of this painting, while the title's lighthouse and lake are only visible far in the distance.
Zoltan Sepeshy emigrated from Hungary to Michigan as a young man. He had already traveled and studied art extensively in Europe when an uncle encouraged him to settle in Detroit. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Sepeshy built his reputation as a painter of the American scene, selling cityscapes and rural landscapes. As a new American, Sepeshy brought a fresh perspective to his adopted Michigan surroundings and life in the American Midwest.