Editor's note: The following essay, without illustrations, was rekeyed and reprinted on April 5, 2004 in Resource Library with permission of American Arts Quarterly and Patrick Connors. The essay originally appeared in the Winter 2004 [Volume 21, Number 1] issue of American Arts Quarterly. If you have questions or comments regarding the essay please contact the author through http://www.connorsfinearts.com/


The Legacy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

by Patrick Connors


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I. "The original intent of this statement is less about the durability of art, but a reflection on the difficulties encountered in mastering the healing arts when compared to the shortness of life." A Dictionary of Latin Words and Phrases, ed., James Morwood (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 187.

2. This is an oft-attributed variation of Emerson's "an institution is a lengthened shadow of one man." Essays, First Series (New York: Vintage Books/The Library of America, 1990), p. 37.

3. "Rather than try to create an art that seemed entirely American, even if it did frequently rely on Old Masters sources, they now aspired to full participation in the contemporary international art world and sought instruction in the French Academic tradition." H. Barbara Weinberg, The American Pupils of Jean-Léon B. Gérôme (Fort Worth Texas: Amon Carter Museum, 1984), dust jacket blurb.

4. In the words of Academy alumnus painter Ben Kamihira: "The Academy is a good school for misfits. Well, art is a good place for misfits. Make the Academy too much like a school, and maybe you won't have room for the misfits." Philadelphia Magazine (March 1979), p. 222.

5. Cast Drawing Class Handout by Arthur DeCosta, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1976.

6. Letter, by DeCosta, May 29, 1984, in response to Michael Brenson's article "The Human Figure -- 1984," New York Times (April 27, 1984).

7. John Sloan and Joseph Laub formed the Charcoal Club, in March 1893 for fellow newspaper artists on the Philadelphia Inquirer. Robert Henri and Sloan provided critiques. Revolutionaries of Realism, ed. by Bernard B. Perlman (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), p. 4.

8. "It is only directly from nature that it is possible to form the artist and then only by constant study from the nude does the painter become strong, deep, and true. Look at what has become of the German School for neglecting the truth, to have left the earth and plunged itself into empty ideal entirely foreign to the plastic arts. To search for the truth is the only reasonable way and all other roads carry you to the abyss." Letter from J. L. Gérôme to Eakins (translated by Louis Husson, a friend of Eakins, with emendations by the author). Kathleen A. Foster and Cheryl Leibold, Writing about Eakins (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989), p. 213.

9. David Sellin, The First Pose (New York: W W Norton & Company, Inc., 1976), p. 7.

10. Leonardo on Painting, trans. by Martin Kemp and Margaret Walker (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), p. 49. Leonardo was greatly influenced by John Pecham's Perspectiva communis (published 1279). Pecham, with Roger Bacon and Witelo, expounded on the optical theories presented by Al Hazen in his Opitacae Theaurus Alhazeni, published 1270.

11. "Secret Number 25 -- that the two most beautiful and useful colors that exist are white and black, and that the true art of every colorist depends on the knowledge of how to utilize these as the basis of your pictorial work." Salvador Dali, Fifty Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship, trans. by Haakon M. Cbevalier (New York: Dover Publication, Inc., 1992), p. 126.

12. There seems to be some confusion about white and black as material colors. White and black are colors derived from particular pigments. In short, they satisfy the requirements of colors: intrinsic hue, temperature, and behavior when mixed with other colors. For example, mix any black (essentially an earth blue) with yellow, and the result is a degraded green. Mix white with orange, and the result is a cooler and lighter orange.

13. The motto of the Royal Academy, translated "without academic discipline art is nothing." I am indebted to Professor Jonathan Rose's expertise for this translation.

14. "Students [in the early twentieth century] also learned through exposure to fine art. The Academy's permanent collection included the Gallery of National Portraiture and collections of European and modernist American paintings. Its annual exhibition brought together outstanding contemporary American painting and sculpture, though abstract works were generally excluded. Special exhibitions generated excitement and controversy." Maurice C. York, The Privilege to Paint (Greenville, N.C.: Greenville Museum of Art, 2002), pp. 10-11. These facts were accurate until fairly recently; for example, the Academy's Annual Exhibition ended in 1966 after more than a hundred-year tradition.

15. The author's summation of "Where the Crakeberries Grow," interview of Robert Graves by Leslie Norris, The Listener (May 28, 1970), BBC TV Wales.

Editor's note: Accompanying the text as published in American Arts Quarterly the list of illustrations is:

1. Interior of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Fall 2003, Studio Number 2: Florentine Cast Room, photograph by the author.

2. Daniel Garber, Cast Drawing: Michelangelo's Slave, ca.1904, 27.5" x 19", charcoal on paper, collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

3. Arthur DeCosta, Portrait of a Young Man, 1977, 22" x 16", oil on paper, collection of the artist.

4. Patrick Connors, Contemplative Young Man, 2003, 18" x 14", oil on linen, Private Collection.

©2004 Patrick Connors


About the author

Patrick Connors is a 1980 graduate of the Certificate Program of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where he studied primarily under Arthur DeCosta. In 1982 he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor of fine arts degree. His work is exhibited internationally and is in both private and public collections. (right: Patrick Connors, photo courtesy of the author)
This past summer he had a solo exhibition, An American in Oxford, in Oxford, UK at Pierrepont Fine Art. Among his recent venues are the New Talent Show at Arcadia Gallery [Manhattan], a solo exhibition at the New York Academy of Art [Manhattan], the National Academy of Design [Manhattan], the Butler Institute of American Art [Youngstown, OH], Century Gallery [Alexandria, VA], Meredith Long & Company [Houston, TX] and Hirschl & Adler Galleries [Manhattan]. He is represented by Arcadia Gallery [Manhattan] and Pierrepont Fine Art [Oxford, UK].
In 2002, he was awarded an Oxford University Summer Residency Fellowship in painting and anatomy. In 2002 he was selected for consideration of a Special Opportunity Stipend grant from Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. In 1998 he was awarded a Pollock/Krasner Foundation Grant for painting. Spring and summer 2003 his commission work was undertaken in Vienna, Austria and London, UK, respectively.
He has lectured and presently teaches linear perspective, drawing, and portrait painting at the Graduate School of the New York Academy of Art; and painting and drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, certificate program. With Anthony Visco he founded the Courtyard Studio, Philadelphia, a private program for classic studies in sculpture, drawing, and painting. This year he has started teaching linear perspective at Studio 126 in Manhattan. He has lectured at the Yale University Art Gallery, Classical America, Philadelphia Chapter; and the Water Street Atelier. He is a published author including these essays: The Oil Sketch and Representationist Thought in the Philadelphia School of Painting, The Chiaroscuro: The Ambiguity of Gloom, and Through the Picture Plane: The Poetry in the Pictorial Space of Thomas Eakins. American Artist Quarterly published his article, The Legacy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Winter 2004.
His areas of expertise include: the Philadelphia school of painting, classic oil painting techniques, material and techniques, linear perspective, anatomy, cast drawing, landscape, still life, portrait, and life painting. He resides in Philadelphia. His website address: www.connorsfinearts.com

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