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Guild Hall: An Adventure in the Arts, Selections from the Permanent Collection
February 5 - March 31, 2013
(above: Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925), New York, 1965, Screenprint 35 1/2 x 23 3/4 inches. Gift of Mrs. Guri Lie Zechkendorf, 68.18.3. Image courtesy of Guild Hall, East Hampton, N.Y.)
While an art student at Black Mountain College in the late 1940s, Robert Rauschenberg developed a collaborative friendship with progressive composer John Cage, a member of the music department whose theories based on "found" sound and the creative use of chance occurrence had been inspired by Marcel Duchamp, a champion of the Dada movement and the artistic use of "found" objects. Rauschenberg's "combine" paintings of the 1950s and '60s, expanded on this theme, incorporating elements of collage, paint, print and objects. The combines tested the boundaries between painting and sculpture, traditional and revolutionary methods, challenging, as Rauschenberg was to say, "the gap between art and life." In response to the growing prominence of print and televised media in American culture, Rauschenberg began in 1962 to include photographic imagery in his work by means of silkscreen, traditionally a commercial print process. His investigations into replication and pop-culture iconography paved the way of the Pop Art movement.
The East End of Long Island, has long lured artists to recreate its vistas in oil, watercolor, and other media. Since thelate 19th century it has thrived as a retreat and cultural center forartists and art lovers. Its reputation grew even more when the Guild Hall in East Hampton, New York opened in 1931 as a museum, visual and performing arts center and meeting place for the entire community. (right: Childe Hassam (1859-1935), The Guild Hall, Hampton, 1931, Etching, 9-7/8 x 8-1/4 inches. Guild Hall Purchase Fund, 64.7. Image courtesy of Guild Hall, East Hampton, N.Y. While best known for his impressionist paintings, at the age of 56 Hassam enthusiastically took up etching, which had seen a major revival at the turn of the nineteenth century. In his graphic work, Hassam rendered many of the impressionistic characteristics seen in his painting, especially in capturing the effects of light and air in the natural environment. This 1931 etching of Guild Hall, executed shortly after the ceremonial opening of the newly-founded cultural center, depicts the south-facing front elevation on Main Street.)
Now, 73 works of that museum's permanent collection have come to R.W. Norton Art Gallery. From February 5 to March 31, 2013 Visitors can experience the essence of that museum at the R. W. Norton Art Gallery when Guild Hall: An Adventure in the Arts, Selections from the Permanent Collection settles in for a nearly two-month run.
"These works are really indicative of the breadth of the Guild Hall collection, comments Jerry Bloomer, secretary-treasurer of the board of R.W. Norton Art Foundation. Bloomer adds "You'll see a painting by Thomas Moran, who settled there with his family in 1884. He was one of the Hudson River School artists who trekked out to the east end by the 1870s. American Impressionist Childe Hassam followed, likely aboard the newly established Long Island Railroad from New York City." (left: Thomas Moran (1837-1926), A Midsummer Day, East Hampton, Long Island, 1903, Oil on canvas/board. 13 1/3 x 19 1/2 inches. Purchase through the Guild Hall Art Acquisition Fund, 92.27 The popular two-volume Picturesque America, published 1872-1874, included the following passage in its chapter Scenes on Eastern Long Island: "Perhaps no town in America retains so nearly the primitive habits, tastes and ideas of our forefathers as East Hampton." Thomas Moran captures the spirit of an idealized neo-colonial landscape in A Mid-Summer Day, East Hampton. Moran, along with other landscape artists of the day, sought creative inspiration in pastoral locales like East Hampton not only in response to the French Barbizon School, but to satisfy a prevailing cultural yearning for a simpler, unspoiled vision of America at a time when society wrestled with the often unsettling changes wrought by the industrial age.)
The East End became one of the nation's leading art centers. Guy Pene du Bois and George Bellows explored their creativity there in the early 20th century, and would soon see the rise of the Guild Hall.
After World War II arrived the Surrealists, then the Abstract Expressionists, such as Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein, Willem de Kooning, and Andy Warhol. The philanthropist, Gerald Murphy, who befriended Ernest Hemingway and other "Lost Generation" writers and artists in Europe, welcomed many to his East End home. (left Thomas Moran (1837-1926), A Midsummer Day, East Hampton, Long Island, 1903, Oil on canvas/board. 13 1/3 x 19 1/2 inches. Purchase through the Guild Hall Art Acquisition Fund, 92.27. Image courtesy of Guild Hall, East Hampton, N.Y. The popular two-volume Picturesque America, published 1872-1874, included the following passage in its chapter Scenes on Eastern Long Island: "Perhaps no town in America retains so nearly the primitive habits, tastes and ideas of our forefathers as East Hampton." Thomas Moran captures the spirit of an idealized neo-colonial landscape in A Mid-Summer Day, East Hampton. Moran, along with other landscape artists of the day, sought creative inspiration in pastoral locales like East Hampton not only in response to the French Barbizon School, but to satisfy a prevailing cultural yearning for a simpler, unspoiled vision of America at a time when society wrestled with the often unsettling changes wrought by the industrial age.)
Name a famous artist: Max Ernst, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Motherwell, Jasper Johns-all are represented in this exhibit featuring some of the best American works that were created from 1872 to 1998.
During the run of the exhibit, visitors may wish to plan a visit on March 2, when the Norton's First Saturday Tour, Great Artists Who Happen To Be Women, wends its way through its 24 galleries. Ashleigh Newberry-Mills of the education department guides the tour beginning at 2 p.m. in the Norton lobby. It lasts about 45 minutes, giving visitors plenty of time to spend in Guild Hall: An Adventure in the Arts.
Later in March, the Norton's massive collection of azaleas and other spring flowers will explode in its seasonal show. These are good days for tours inside the museum and outside on its 40 acres of grounds and botanical gardens, bright with spring color.
(above: Raphael Soyer (1899-1987), The Dancer, late 1940s, Oil on canvas, 19 1/2 x 15 3/4 inches. Gift of Mrs. Charles S. Dewey Jr., 65.1 Image courtesy of Guild Hall, East Hampton, N.Y. The family of Raphael Soyer moved to New York City from Russia in 1912. He attended free classes at Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design. Guy Pène du Bois, with whom Soyer studied at The Art Students League, introduced him to gallery dealer Charles Daniel. Through Daniel, Soyer's first solo exhibition was mounted in 1929. As a social realist, his numerous portrait paintings, including many self-portraits, offered unglamorous, often stark glimpses of the "common man." Soyer's genre paintings of city life, his depiction of bus passengers, shop girls and the unemployed capture the urban mood of New York in the nineteen thirties and forties. He summered in Southampton from 1949 to 1954, and again in 1980.)
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