Along with his wife, Dorothea Lange, and their children, Maynard Dixon spent the summer of 1933—from June to October—in southwestern Utah, roaming, painting, and camping in Zion National Park.
The fin-shaped rock in the foreground of West Walls of Zion (dated August, 1933) looks an awful lot like Angels Landing, with its well-known — and quite dangerous — hiking trail up the spine.
The formation supposedly got its name from a hiker in 1916 who proclaimed“Only an angel could land on it,” so, of course, it’s the most popular hike in the park.
Dixon wisely keeps his distance, looking down on it and across to the sandstone wall that looms over it. He also keeps it simple, piling regular and irregular blocks of paint, block on block, and letting light and shadow work their magic. In their simplicity, the place and Dixon’s rendering suggest building blocks left behind by giants or gods.