Can You Identify Artist in Dr. George Hill Hodel Owned Modernist Painting?

January 16, 2020
Los Angeles, California

Can you identify this painting and its artist?

This photograph of Dr. George Hill Hodel was believed taken circa 1950, just prior to the sale of his Sowden/Franklin home and his departure to Hawaii to avoid arrest by LADA Lt. Frank Jemison.
I am attempting to identify the painting and its artist seen hanging on the wall behind him.  (Enlarged on the left.) Any help from a reader/viewer would be much appreciated.
In early talks with former Franklin House tenant Joe Barrett, he indicated he “thought the painting could possibly have been drawn and gifted to my father,  by former artist and his longtime friend,  Fred Sexton.” (See Sexton bio/artwork below.)  However, I have no solid confirmation on this and am requesting any information from readers who might know or have an answer as to who actually painted it?  Painting likely created in the 1940s or earlier?
Anyone with knowledge or information as to the actual artist can contact me by email


Fred Sexton bio on Wikipedia

Below are known 1940s artworks by Fred Sexton

Fred Sexton’s  “Death of Monalita” (1955)

Same artist?  

Fred Sexton blog from 2011

Fred Sexton “Death of Monalita” blog from 2019


  1. Luigi Warren on January 16, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    A formal resemblance to Sexton’s later “Death of Monalita” is quite noticeable.

    • Steve Hodel on January 16, 2020 at 4:51 pm

      LW: I agree, my gut say’s that witness and Sexton acquaintance Joe Barrett who resided at the Sowden House is probably correct with his attribution to Sexton as the artist. I would just like to be able to confirm it from a second party if possible or exclude if not. skh

  2. Tom Balderas on January 27, 2020 at 1:31 am

    Also a quick follow up to my last comment. Painters in talking to other painters often say things like “when I paint my masterpiece” and “that is my little Mona Lisa” or one painter talking about another painters work will say “that is their Mona Lisa”. Could the Monalita title be Fred sextons reference and subject in the painting to what I think you described in one of the books as George Hodel’s idea of that murder being his greatest work of art?


    • Steve Hodel on September 2, 2020 at 5:32 pm

      ntp: Thanks I’ll check it out.

  3. Alex Fernandez on September 7, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    Hey Steve,
    Hope you’re doing well. About the painting. From what I see, I think it’s a photograph. It looks a lot like abstract photography. When I look at that painting it reminds me of real physical things put together to build a picture, kinda like still life. You may wanna look at Paul Strand’s work. He live thru that era. And, maybe research some other abstract photographers. Wasn’t Man Ray also a photographer? I’m still looking into it.


    • Steve Hodel on September 7, 2020 at 9:25 pm

      Alex F:
      Thanks, I’m doing fine.
      I’ll check him out. Thanks for the input.

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