The Barbara Belgrade Spargo
Collection: Facets of Modernity (1900-1950)
January 13 - April 1, 2012
Wall labels for objects in the exhibition
- Peggy Bacon (1895-1987)
- Sitting by the Fire, 1945
- Gifford Beal (1879-1956)
- After the Storm/Couple, n.d.
- Oil on board
- Gifford Beal, like his older brother, Reynolds Beal (1866-1951)
studied art with William Merritt Chase (1849-1916). He later attended Princeton
University and the Art Students League in New York, gaining a brilliant
early education in the arts. His success came quickly as he was appointed
a member of the National Academy of Design in 1914 after winning multiple
prizes for his paintings and watercolors.
- The double-sided painting After the Storm/Couple
attests to the diversity of Beal's subject matter. He enjoyed representing
people from different walks of life as well as landscapes from the East
Coast where he spent many summers. After the Storm/Couple likely
dates to the last two decades of the artist's life, when he developed a
freer style in which the abstract qualities of his subjects were emphasized
in bright and vibrant paintings.
Reynolds Beal (1866-1951)
- Chase's Tenth Street Studio,
- Oil on canvas
- Considered one of America's earliest Impressionist painters,
Beal attended Cornell University, where he studied naval architecture.
However, he turned to fine art in 1896 when he enrolled at William Merritt
Chase's Shinnecock Summer School. Fortunate to have the support of his
family's wealth, Beal spent the next several years traveling and painting
in Portugal, the Caribbean, and the west coast of the United States. His
playful and lively paintings made Beal highly popular and successful, and
he went on to help found the Society of Independent Artists and the New
Society of Artists with George Bellows, Childe Hassam, John Sloan, William
Glackens and Maurice Prendergast.
- As the title suggests, Chase's Tenth Street Studio
depicts the famous studio of William Merritt Chase (1849-1916). Located
at 51 West 10th Street in New York's Greenwich Village, it was a legendary
building previously occupied by such influential artists as Albert Bierstadt,
Frederic Church, and Winslow Homer. Beal's painting captures Chase's studio
as a repository of objects -- paintings, antique furniture, samovars, and
other cultural artifacts acquired through years of extensive travel. While
the studio showcased Chase's refinement and connection with tradition,
he deeply resented being considered conservative or academic, for his lack
of sentimentality and idealism had caused the true academics to reject
his style. Chase warned his students, who included Georgia O'Keeffe, Rockwell
Kent, Charles Sheeler, Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and Joseph Stella,
against "working too conscientiously," instead encouraging them
to be "not exactly careless, but very free."
- Philip Evergood (1901-1973)
- Nirvana on Long Island, 1949
- Oil on board
- Born in New York and educated in England, Philip Evergood
studied sculpture at Slade School before coming back to study painting
with George Luks (1867-1933) at the Art Students League. The youthful Evergood
was deeply affected by the human toll of the Great Depression and committed
himself to depicting the compelling quality of people's lives: achievements
as well as failures. While he always remained a socially-conscious painter,
his later work became increasingly symbolic, fantastical, and personal
in nature, establishing his reputation as a prominent Magic Realist.
- Nirvana on Long Island is
a whimsical, dreamlike image of bliss. Land, water, and air melt into a
single sea of sherbet aquamarine that envelops the figures while they indulge
in various leisurely activities. Always striving to imbue his paintings
with emotional impact, Evergood employed dramatic distortion, caricatured
figures, and free use of color to express a carefree, fanciful, and almost
childlike vision. Thus, he conjures a playful take on the Buddhist concept
of nirvana, the definition of which he inscribed on the reverse side of
the picture: "that perfect condition a Buddhist attains when his mind
has achieved a state of perfect peace and rest."
Don Freeman (1908-1978)
- Ask the Mayor, 1936
- Oil on canvas
- An illustrator, painter and lithographer, Don Freeman
was born in San Diego, California, where he studied at the San Diego School
of Fine Arts. Moving to New York City in 1928, he attended the Art Students
League and studied with John Sloan (1871-1951) and Harry Wickey (1892-1968).
Known for always carrying a sketchbook, Freeman depicted city life and
everyday faces in the streets, subways and theaters during the Great Depression.
He made the circus, Broadway theaters and politics frequent subjects for
his work and was a contributing illustrator for such publications as the
Herald Tribune and The New York Times. Beginning in 1951, he immersed himself
in writing and illustrating children's books, such as the beloved story
- Ask the Mayor captures New
York City in a period of great transition, when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia
(1882-1947) initiated large-scale, public projects using federal funds
from President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) and began moving from
a patronage to a merit-based system for granting government jobs. The painting
presents a group of petitioners awaiting their turn to address the mayor.
At the center of the crowd is an elderly woman, whose warm and sincere
expression casts an atmosphere of quiet anticipation rather than mayhem
over the entire scene.
- William Glackens (1870-1938)
- Head of Jean, 1918
- Oil on canvas
- Philadelphia-born Glackens began his career as an artist-reporter
first for the Record and later at the Philadelphia Press, where he joined
fellow illustrators John Sloan (1871-1951), George Luks (1866-1933), and
Everett Shinn (1876-1953). While taking classes at the Pennsylvania Academy,
Glackens and Sloan became acquainted with Robert Henri (1865-1929), whom
Glackens accompanied to Europe in 1895.
- Gradually, Glackens' paintings began to show the influence
of Henri's Manet-like style and their trip abroad. Moving away from genteel
academic paintings, Glackens started to paint urban life and immigrant
and working-class neighborhoods of New York City, where he lived beginning
in 1896. In 1904, he married artist Edith Dimock (1876-1955), a native
of Hartford, Connecticut.
- Completed in 1918, Head of Jean reflects yet another
evolution in Glackens' approach to painting. After a number of subsequent
trips to France, where Glackens became particularly interested in the works
of Impressionist master Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), he abandoned
his dark palette. Like Portrait of a Young Girl, currently on view in the
adjacent Impressionist Gallery, Head of Jean is a vivid studio portrait
rendered with expressive, feathery brush strokes and a bright, almost explosive
palette. Glackens' use of blazing color has been described as a "play
at painting" by critic Forbes Watson. "There is no tormented,
morbid struggle with profound life facts disturbing him. He doesn't delve
deeply into psychology. The color of the world makes him thoroughly happy,
and to express that happiness in color has become his first and most natural
Henry Glintenkamp (1887-1946)
- Window Shopper, 1912
- Watercolor on paper
- Born in Augusta, New Jersey, Glintenkamp received his
elementary art training at the National Academy of Design before his study
with Robert Henri (1865-1929) from 1906 to 1908. One student's recollection
of Henri's classes gives an indication as to the influence Henri had on
pupils such as Glintenkamp: "The old idea was to learn to draw the
figure before the student had ideas. Henri's idea was to have ideas first,
paint pictures, make composition, which is the same thing; learn to draw
as you go along. He taught us to paint from the inside out so to speak,
try to find that inner thing that made one particular man or woman different
from any other man or woman."
- In addition to learning from Henri how to closely convey
human qualities, Glintenkamp was also inspired by his teacher's preoccupation
with depicting the lived urban experience of various social classes. The
artist developed a strong devotion to humanitarian causes, which was most
directly reflected in his illustrations for The Masses, a socialist journal
whose contributors also included artists George Bellows, Stuart Davis,
Rockwell Kent, Reginald Marsh, John Sloan, and writer Upton Sinclair. Window
Shopper, which at first glance appears to simply illustrate a moment
of everyday life, may actually reveal a subtle, satirical jab at consumerist
culture upon closer inspection. The store front, with its door widely ajar,
beckons the window shopper. While her feet begin to inch toward the entrance,
the rest of her body remains completely motionless. Mesmerized by the luxurious
goods inside, she appears to be frozen mid-step, trance-like and unaware
of the magnetic force pulling her toward the entrance.
- Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)
- Grapes in a Bowl, 1923
- Marsden Hartley was born in Lewiston, Maine, and was
educated there, as well as in Cleveland and New York. Typical of many artists
of his generation, he had a strong attraction to the inventions of European
Avant-Garde art and a willingness to selectively borrow from them. Through
his friendship with Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), one of the foremost promoters
of modern art, Hartley was introduced to legendary European artists including
Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Paul Cézanne
(1839-1906) and Henri Rousseau (1844-1910). Exposure to their work increased
Hartley's desire to travel to France and Germany, which he did extensively
throughout his life.
- Grapes in a Bowl was completed
while Hartley lived in Berlin, a period during which he was particularly
interested in still-life compositions and fruit motifs, likely because
of his admiration for Cézanne's still life paintings. Hartley was
drawn to the medium of lithography because it was relatively inexpensive
in a time when money was very scarce. The inclusion of ceramic ware in
many of his still lifes was partly a nostalgic gesture to memorialize the
few domestic treasures he could afford to keep as a young, itinerant artist.
- Wilmont Emerton Heitland
- Venetian Brooklyn, 1922
- Watercolor and pencil on paper
- Born in Wisconsin, Wilmont Heitland studied at the Pennsylvania
Academy of the Fine Arts and also in New York at the Art Students League,
where he eventually became an instructor of illustration. Lauded by contemporary
critics for his "natural flair" for watercolor and his ability
to construct composition "swiftly and directly . . . achieving a sparkling
and powerful result," Heitland established a national reputation as
- In Venetian Brooklyn, Heitland's palette is particularly
striking. He saturated the wall of a weathered tenement building with blue
paint sponged into red, while leaving the white paper bare in some areas
to delineate laundry hanging on lines, the columns on the narrow tower
in the distance, and broad expanses of open sky. His choice of an urban
subject treated with attention to its picturesque possibilities links him
to the Ashcan School. At the same time, his painterly surfaces and lively
color schemes demonstrate his allegiance to the decorative mode of Post-Impressionism.
- Robert Henri (18651929)
- Bass Rocks, 1927
- Regarded as one of the finest art teachers in the United
States, as well as the leader of the circle of urban realists known as
The Eight, Henri believed in the importance of artistic independence. Born
Robert Henry Cozad in Cincinnati, Ohio, Henri changed his name to protect
himself after his father killed a man. He later studied at the Philadelphia
Academy and at the Académie Julian in France.
- While Henri had tremendous respect for the Old Masters,
he sought to build upon the study of their work to develop a unique, personal
voice appropriate to his own time and place, and encouraged his associates
and students at the Woman's School of Design and the New York School of
Art (formerly the Chase School of Art and currently named Parsons The New
School for Design) to do the same. Simultaneously, he advocated for the
idea of a national art, or an art based directly on the American experience
rather than classical ideals.
- Bass Rocks, a late work,
is a vibrant seascape executed in the port town of Gloucester, Massachusetts.
The rapidly applied strokes of color capture the energy of waves as they
crash into the coastal rocks. For Henri, landscape provided equal opportunity
for expressively conveying experienced reality -- "[it] is a medium
for ideasit isn't sufficient that the spacing and arrangement of the composition
be correct in formula. The true artist, in viewing the landscape, renders
it upon his canvas as a living thing."
- Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
- Study of a Nude Woman, 1901
- Charcoal on paper
- Edward Hopper is regarded as one of the most significant
and iconic realist painters of 20th-century America. Yet his work is also
admired by proponents of abstract art, who acclaim his composition, his
forms, and his light. The recognition of Hopper's achievements, however,
came only after years of struggle. He was 42 when he finally had a one-man
show in a commercial gallery in 1924. This exhibition of watercolors was
a critical success and all the works were sold, enabling Hopper to cease
working as an illustrator and devote himself entirely to painting.
- Study of a Nude Woman is
an early work from Hopper's student days at the New York School of Art,
where he studied with William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), Robert Henri (1852-1929),
and Kenneth Hayes Miller (1876-1952) from 1900 to 1906. Hopper has observed
a woman standing in a classic contrapposto pose, considered by the ancient
Greeks to be the most natural and "human" stance. With the figure's
weight resting on her left leg, the right remains bent and relaxed, allowing
the spine to fall into a slight S-shaped curve. The study demonstrates
the traditional training that served as the foundation for Hopper's distinct
representational style, modern for its emphasis on geometrical relationships,
effects of light, elimination of superfluous details from a composition,
and frequently explored themes of loneliness and isolation.
- Ernest Lawson (1873-1939)
- Aspens, ca. 1928
- Oil on canvas
- Originally from Nova Scotia, the itinerant Lawson lived
and studied in Kansas City and Mexico before arriving in New York in 1891
to enroll at the Art Students League. There, he was taught by Julian Alden
Weir (1852-1919) and John H. Twatchman (1853-1902), whose gestural impressionistic
style influenced Lawson greatly. Lawson's trip to France in 1893 confirmed
his allegiance to the impressionist aesthetic. The only true landscapist
of The Eight, he dedicated himself to painting the fast-changing landscape
of the Harlem and Hudson Rivers after his return from Europe. As one anonymous
critic once remarked, "Mr. Lawson gives us New York treated as nature."
- In Aspens, Lawson constructed thick layers of paint like
a sculptor molding clay. In fact, he was known for using a variety of tools,
such as a palette knife, trowel, and even his own thumb to build up his
surfaces. The tactile quality of the paint undulates over the canvas, as
if mimicking the wind that blows against the trees.
- George Benjamin Luks (1867-1933)
- Figure By Lamplight, 1908
- Born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Luks displayed his
innate ability to observe and capture life around him at an early age.
This aptitude made him an undisciplined student in formal settings, and
he studied only briefly at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the
Arts Academy in Düsseldorf. In the 1890s, he traveled throughout Europe
learning directly from observing the works of the Old Masters, and upon
his return he joined the Philadelphia Press as an illustrator. It was then
that he met William Glackens (1870-1938), John Sloan (1876-1953), Everett
Shinn (1876-1953) and their mentor Robert Henri (1865-1929).
- Moving to New York in 1896, Luks continued to work as
an illustrator for the World. After his 1903 trip to Paris, however, he
dedicated himself to painting in oil and watercolor. As a member of The
Eight, Luks is known for his brash, confident brushwork and depictions
of everyday subjects.
- Figure By Lamplight is a
moody street scene executed with the kind of spontaneity, expression, and
compositional economy that made Luks a successful staff artist for a newspaper
and master of the watercolor medium. The central male turns away from the
viewer, his face mysteriously hidden despite the illumination from the
lamplight. With a lack of contour, it is unclear whether he is alone or
with a companion. The indefinite shapes and shadows that fill the composition
help capture the sense of visual uncertainty experienced at night.
- Reginald Marsh (1898-1954)
- Flying Acrobats, 1940
- Watercolor on rice paper
- Marsh, born in Paris, graduated from Yale University
and later relocated to New York City to pursue a career as a freelance
illustrator. He worked regularly for the New Yorker, The Daily News,
and The Evening Post, depicting contemporary social and historical
events. In 1922, Marsh enrolled at the Art Students League and began painting
scenes that captured the energy of New York City, particularly of Coney
Island, burlesque shows, the Bowery, movie houses, and trains. He shared
his interest in urban subject matter with George Luks (1867-1933), one
of his teachers at the League.
- By the mid-1930s, Marsh was known as America's foremost
painter-reporter of the tawdriness and dreary shabbiness of the city during
the Great Depression. He remained a strong presence in the New York art
scene as an academician at the National Academy of Design and a teacher
of drawing and painting at the League until his death.
- Flying Acrobats is bustling
with action and movement in bodies, arms, legs, and heads -- a slice of
raw life, painted with great vitality. Marsh completed it in monochromatic
watercolor on paper with subtle washes of yellow, pink, and blue, a technique
to which he had returned after almost a decade of painting in tempera.
The robust and muscular physique of the female acrobat in the foreground
is in line with Marsh's interest in the American woman as both a powerful
and sexual figure within the modern public sphere, in which he believed
individuals are cast daily as both spectators and performers on display.
- Alfred Maurer (1868-1932)
- Two Dancing Figures, 1920
- Gouache on paper
- Born in New York City, Alfred Maurer was the son of Louis
Maurer (1832-1932), a commercial artist for the printmaking firm Currier
& Ives. After studying at the National Academy of Design, he immigrated
to Paris in 1897 and remained there until 1914. Maurer was hailed as one
of the most promising artists of his generation after creating subtly toned
and psychologically acute portraits in the style of James McNeill Whistler
(1834-1903). By 1906, however, Maurer was caught up in the modern movements
through his appreciation of Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)and Henri Matisse
(1869-1954), shared by the expatriates Maurer befriended abroad -- notably
collectors Gertrude and Leo Stein and artist Max Weber (1881-1961). Despite
being dubbed an "apostle of ugliness" by some contemporary critics,
Maurer was well-respected within modernist circles, exhibiting at Alfred
Stieglitz's 291 Gallery and later the 1913 Armory Show. Sadly, depressed
and isolated, Maurer in his 60s committed suicide.
- As one of the first American artists to paint in the
fauvist style, Maurer infamously used loose brushstrokes to create abstracted
yet recognizable figures, as can be seen in Two Dancing Figures.
Inspired and liberated by Matisse's expressive use of color, Maurer applied
pigment with immediacy and force. With only minimal use of shading, the
artist instead employed thick, dark lines to denote shape and contour.
Even so, the color boldly pulsates in and out of its given borders, dancing
freely across the surface just as the figures to whom it gives form.
- Jerome Myers (1867-1940)
- Backyard, 1887
- Oil on board
- On Rivington Street, ca.
- Colored etching
- Myers was born in Petersburg, Virginia to poverty and
unstable family life. His father, described by his son as an "incorrigible
roving spirit," left his wife and children to find his own fortune.
When his mother became hospitalized in 1877, Myers and his four siblings
were temporarily placed into foster homes. Later he moved to New York City
where he began attending night classes at Cooper Union and Art Students
League. Myers found academic training to be stifling and preferred to sketch
the colorful life of New York's streets more freely.
- The etching On Rivington Street a showcases Myers'
affinity to fresh color -- one can discern the different plates used to
separately print shades of brown, red, yellow, orange, and green. With
immigrants from the Lower East Side of New York City as the subject matter,
On Rivington Street also demonstrates Myers' affinity to the common
people of the city. As the artist himself recalled, "[I] felt one
with them from the beginning and enjoyed nothing as much as being in their
- Jane Peterson (1876-1965)
- Palma, Mallorca (Spain),
- Oil on canvas
- Peterson went to Europe in 1907 on the cusp of the Fauvist
movement. In Spain she studied with Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923),
who inspired her to paint in a spontaneous manner, using a colorful palette
applied in broad bands emphasizing the influences of both Fauvism and Impressionism.
While in Europe she often traveled with Maurice Prendergast (1858-1924),
Childe Hassam (1859-1935) and John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). She was
considered to be one of the foremost women artists of her time. In Palma,
Mallorca Peterson demonstrated her ability to channel all the skills
that she had been taught into her own unique style.
Abraham Rattner (1895-1978)
- New York from my Studio #2,
- Abraham Rattner was born in Poughkeepsie, New York. His
family was originally from Russia and fled to America because his father,
a rabbinical student, wanted to leave behind the anti-Semitism of czarist
Russia. Rattner's studies in art and architecture were interrupted when
the United States entered World War I, whereupon Rattner volunteered to
serve in the Army and became a specialist in camouflage design. After the
war, he resumed his schooling and eventually settled in France for a 20-year
residence. There, he befriended such avant-garde artists as Pablo Picasso
(1881-1973), Georges Braque (1882-1963) and architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965)
and himself developed a cubist style, interpreting nature in bold, vibrant
- In 1939, with the tensions of World War II increasing,
Rattner returned to the United States, forging a link between French abstraction
and American expressionism. In New York from my Studio #2, Rattner
deconstructs the view from his window into a dynamic composition unified
by soft, billowing washes that resemble smokestacks. The urban landscape
is rendered with close architectural detail: a church steeple, a neoclassical
façade and multiple skyscrapers and water towers project out from
the picture plane, which is shared with various objects from the studio
interior. The resulting image presents a fragment of subjective reality
as experienced by the artist, in which virtually nothing separates the
realm of his studio from the world beyond it.
Anne Ryan (1889-1954)
- Spanish Noon, 1938
- Oil on canvas
- Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, Anne Ryan was a woman of
many trades -- a writer, entrepreneur, and artist. In 1923 she left a marriage
in New Jersey for the life of a poet and journalist, traveling alone to
Spain and then settling in Greenwich Village, where she opened a restaurant
to support her children. In 1941 she enrolled in Stanley William Hayter's
(1901-1988) print-making workshop and learned etching, intaglio, monotype,
woodcut and printing and carving on plaster. It was not until Ryan saw
an exhibition of German Dada artist Kurt Schwitters' (1887-1948) work that
she developed a passion for collage, the medium for which she is best known
- Spanish Noon was completed
after Ryan returned from Europe and immersed herself in New York City's
milieu of excitement and vision of gifted, young artists who were defining
themselves in new, abstract ways. Encouraged by master colorist Hans Hofmann
(1880-1968), Ryan responded by developing her own painterly style. Spanish
Noon presents her daring use of color and pattern to produce a still life,
in which experienced reality is filtered through and distorted by the artist's
own, unique perceptions.
- Henry Schnakenberg (1892-1970)
- Across the Tracks, 1916
- Oil on canvas
- Henry Schnakenberg was born in Staten Island, New York,
where he worked as an insurance representative at his father's firm until
a trip to the 1913 Armory Show changed the course of his life. Having been
profoundly inspired by what he saw, he decided to become an artist and
enrolled at the Art Students League. There, he had the good fortune to
have Kenneth Hayes Miller (1876-1952) and John Sloan (1871-1951) as teachers.
Their emphasis on urban realism and its gritty details played an important
role in shaping Schnakenberg's career. Particularly known for his ability
to capture the form and texture of the world around him, Schnakenberg has
been praised for being able to "build a completely satisfying composition
out of something no more grandiose than a weather-beaten fencepost covered
with scarlet ivy." After serving in the army during World War I, he
went on to paint independently and teach at the League, where he was elected
president in 1932.
- Across the Tracks presents
a modernized take on the classical image of the bather, which traditionally
consisted of a nude female figure or a group of figures in a bucolic, outdoor
setting. Schnakenberg's picture, however, depicts several boys in a landscape
that is far from idyllic. With railroad tracks and a freight train looming
over the young bathers, their retreat into nature and leisure is interrupted
by the ultimate symbol of industry and labor, reminding the viewer of the
sweeping changes brought on by technology, industrialization, and the spirit
- Henry Schnakenberg (1892-1970)
- Depot Canteen (Penn Station Canteen), 1944
- Oil on canvas
- In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Schnakenberg worked
for the Section of Fine Arts, a New Deal program similar to the WPA established
by the federal government to provide work for Americans during the Great
Depression. The exaggerated figures and use of bold lines to delineate
forms in Depot Canteen (Penn Station Canteen) demonstrates the influence
of Schnakenberg's mural projects on the easel paintings done in the second
half of his career.
- In Depot Canteen (Penn Station Canteen), soldiers
and sailors line up at the Pennsylvania Station canteen in New York City.
As the United States mobilized for war, canteens were set up all over the
country as morale-boosting stations, where the troops were fed and entertained.
The prominent place of two African-American soldiers within the painting's
composition indicates that unlike most canteens, Penn Station Canteen
was not segregated. Still, the two soldiers stand apart from the rest of
the servicemen, reminding the viewer that racial separation was still a
reality even for integrated military units and public spaces. While important
strides were made during World War II toward desegregation of the military,
full integration was not achieved until the 1950s, with the last all-African-American
unit being disbanded in 1954.
- Everett Shinn (1876-1953)
- Reclining Nude, 1908
- Originally from New Jersey, Shinn moved to Philadelphia
in 1888 to attend the Spring Garden Institute to study mechanical and architectural
drawing. After working as a designer of gas light fixtures for two years,
he enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and went on to
become a successful illustrator at a young age. While working at the Philadelphia
Press, he met William Glackens (1870-1938), George Luks (1867-1933) and
John Sloan (1871-1951), and eventually moved to New York in 1897 to become
a member of The Eight.
- Sponsored by the French art dealers Léon Boussod
and Réne Valadon, Shinn traveled to Europe in 1900. There, he discovered
the work of Edgar Degas (1834-1917) and began to explore the subjects of
theater, vaudeville and spectacle, which ultimately came to dominate his
- At first glance, the subject of Reclining Nude
appears to be a miniature of Olympia, painted by Édouard
Manet (1832-1883) in 1863. Instead of a servant delivering a bouquet of
flowers from behind a brocade curtain, however, Shinn has depicted a second
young woman, whose exposed breasts reveal that she and the "reclining
nude" share the same occupation. Shinn's use of varying shades of
a single, dark color provides a subtle commentary on the morally murky
nature of brothels.
John Sloan (1871-1951)
- Moors Toward Autumn, 1914
- Oil on canvas
- John Sloan grew up in Philadelphia, dropping out of school
at the age of 16 to support his family. While working at a bookstore which
also sold fine art prints, he taught himself how to etch and began selling
his prints and card designs. By his early twenties, he was working as a
professional illustrator along with the other Philadelphia Four -- William
Glackens (1870-1938), George Luks (1867-1933), and Everett Shinn (1876-1953).
While also taking classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,
he met his lifelong friend and mentor, Robert Henri (1865-1929), who encouraged
him and his fellow illustrators to paint.
- After moving to New York City in 1904, Sloan was inspired
by the everyday life of the working class and often wandered the streets,
sketching scenes from which he would later paint and etch. Although he
did not pursue training abroad, his encounter with European art during
the 1913 Armory Show, which he described as a "clarion call for freedom,"
left a profound impression.
- Particularly taken by the structure and texture in the
work of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) and Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
seen at the Armory, Sloan began to experiment with color, form, and composition.
This effort is most evident in his 1914-1919 canvases painted at the seaport
of Gloucester, Massachusetts, where he summered with Stuart Davis (1892-1964)
and other artists. Sloan completed Moors Toward Autumn during this
extremely fruitful period using thick paint application, lively vertical
brush strokes, and the Maratta color theory, a complicated method endorsed
by Henri that equated certain color tones with musical notes. The fiery
painting demonstrates Sloan's belief that nature offered "the best
means of advance in color and design."
- John Sloan (1871-1951)
- Girl Undressing (Stockings),
- Oil on panel
- Girl Undressing (Stockings) depicts
a subject who can be defined as a "New Woman" of the 20th century.
She meets the gaze of the viewer with casual self-confidence and ease.
Like Moors Toward Autumn, the painting demonstrates Sloan's interest
in color relationships, as he blends and repeats the use of the primary
colors red, yellow, and blue. The straight lines forming the architecture
and wallpaper of the interior are subtly balanced with the curves of the
oval picture frame, the circular carpet patterns, and most notably, the
roundness of the girl's figure. Because Sloan loved to depict "real,"
hearty women, his nudes are in sharp contrast to the delicate images of
languid, decorative women generally popular in the late 19th century.
- John Von Wicht (1880-1970)
- Untitled #22, ca. 1946
- Born in Holstein, Germany, Von Wicht received his early
training at Grand Duke of Hesse's Private Art School, the precursor to
the Bauhaus. There, he learned the fundamental themes of simplicity, nature,
and poetry. He went on to study at the Berlin School of Applied and Fine
Arts and received numerous scholarships, enabling him to travel and exhibit
his work throughout Europe. During World War I, Von Wicht was wounded and
partially paralyzed. While recovering, he worked on book designs and illustration
work and discovered the artists Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) and Kazimir Malevich
- After emigrating from a post-war Berlin and its economic
hardships in 1923, he and his wife settled in Brooklyn Heights, which was
home to a thriving art community. He began working for the U.S. Printing
and Lithograph Company and later moved on to mosaics and mural work, taking
on many commissions such as the vestibule for the St. Louis Cathedral executed
in a classic Byzantine manner.
- In Untitled #22, Von Wicht presents a modern mosaic,
undoubtedly influenced by the geometric abstractions of Wassily Kandinsky
(1866-1944). Seemingly independent forms are assembled into a single, harmonious
composition in which pockets of bright, saturated color delight the eye.
- William Zorach (1887-1966)
- Mother and Child, ca. 1950
- Lithuanian-born William Zorach studied in New York before
traveling to Paris in 1910-11. There, he met his wife, artist Marguerite
Thompson (1887-1968) while taking classes at an art school called "La
Palette." Like Marguerite, William was interested in Cubism and Expressionism;
however, he departed from painting, and in doing so created sculptures
that remain true testaments to the power of early American Modernism. Both
William and Marguerite exhibited at the important 1913 Armory Show in New
- The sculpture Mother and Child is dedicated to
the timeless theme of unconditional love that exists between a mother and
her child. Zorach frequently revisited this subject, often forming the
figures into an inseparable unit in which the mother holds the child in
a protective embrace. Zorach worked slowly and painstakingly on his sculptures
by carving directly in stone and wood to create molds, rejecting the simpler
process of modeling in clay. Inspired by ancient, non-Western carvers of
the past, he sought to convey basic, universal human emotions and experiences
to create "eternal art" that has "the quality of being removed
from the temporary."
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