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Through American Eyes: Two Centuries of American Art from the Huntington Museum of Art

September 10 - November 7, 2004


(above: John Frederick Peto (1854-1907), Still Life with Ginger Jar and Pound Cake, circa 1890, oil on board, 12 x 14 x 1 inches,1999.15. Huntington Museum of Art)


Through American Eyes is an exhibition of American treasures from the collection of the Huntington Museum of Art. The Museum, in the Western corner of West Virginia, bordering Kentucky and Ohio, is the home of an important, self-defined collection, the formation of which has been strongly influenced by the commerce and taste of the region. (left: John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Near June Street, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1890, oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 31 x 2 inches, 1965.18. Huntington Museum of Art)

This exhibition presents a variety of styles and techniques that make up the last two centuries of American art, and offers the opportunity to compare artists from different backgrounds, artistic training, and time periods. The works date from the late eighteenth century up through the end of the twentieth century, and mirror the extensive collections of glass, painting, sculpture, prints, folk art and firearms.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, Inc. and an anonymous donor, the Museum is able to organize this exhibition, publish the accompanying catalogue, and share this important American collection with institutions across the United States -- a fitting fifty-year anniversary acknowledgement for the Museum.



Originally, the American colonies were seen as an extension of Europe, but soon after independence, the young nation sought its own identity in all matters, including the arts. For the first century, there was an ongoing debate as to whether American artists should study in Europe, or stay at home. Artists strived to give their work a distinctly American look, or at least combine their European gleaned style with American subject matter. (right: Robert Henri (1865-1929), Kathleen, 1924, oil on canvas, 30 x 26 x 2 inches, 1967.1.127. Huntington Museum of Art)

In America most patrons of the arts were private individuals, not the government, or the church as in Europe, and in the early on, portraiture was the most viable and desirable type of painting. The invention of photographic processes, and the search for something innately "American" turned many artists to landscape, genre scenes, still life, and figure painting. Landscape eventually emerged as the most popular American art form in the nineteenth century. Artists began depicting the mountains of the Eastern United States, accessible to artists from Boston, New York and Philadelphia, which evolved into a style known as the Hudson River School. Soon however, the vast, wilderness of the United States lured many artists west for new artistic opportunities.

This collection contains many examples of works by artists who toward the end of the nineteenth century studied in Europe, and returned with modernist aesthetics, especially impressionism. Many good examples are presented in this gallery of paintings that display adaptations of impressionistic techniques such as plein air painting, direct observation of light effects on surfaces, use of prismatic colors, atmospheric conditions, and contemporary subject matter.

European turn-of-the-century movements such as cubism, fauvism, expressionism, and non-objective styles became widely known to American artists through the Armory Show of 1913. American artists were greatly influenced by these new ideas, and either embraced them, or reacted against them. Many European artists fled to America during WW II, and it was after 1945 when the eyes of the world turned to America as the new center for the art world.



By the middle of the nineteenth century, sculpture in America emerged as an art form in its own right. The works in HMA's collection are by some of the most influential, and best-known artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Important small-scale bronzes were made specifically for the new domestic consumer, who wanted works that celebrated the modern everyday world.



The Huntington Museum of Art has an extensive print collection by European and American artists ranging from old master to contemporary, the majority of which are from the 19th and 20th centuries. The prints fill many stylistic gaps in the collection, including regionalism, surrealism, pop art, op art, super realism, and minimalism, among others. Woodcut, etching, lithograph, dry point, aquatint, screen print, and other techniques are represented.

The exhibition features prints that show influences from Europe and those distinctly American. Private presses and professional print workshops expanded the printing methods available to artists, and both realism and abstraction had strong proponents throughout the twentieth century. The years 1960 to 1990 witnessed an extraordinary growth in the number of artists working in print media, experimenting with techniques and materials, and expanding the size of plates. Printmaking became a driving force in the contemporary art world. (right: Robert Longo (b. 1953), Cindy, 1984, lithograph, edition 34/38, 72 x 42 3/8 x 2 inches, 1986.78. Huntington Museum of Art)



West Virginia proved to be the ideal location for manufacturing glass. Innumerable businesses located in the state, some small-scale, one-man shops, many of which survived for years, and others, that grew into mass production facilities. The state offered everything required for glass production, including the natural resources of coal and gas for firing furnaces, and silica for the glass formula. A network of rivers provided easy access to markets outside the Ohio River Valley. Huntington's collection boasts over 5000 pieces of glass, commercial, art and studio, with an emphasis on glass manufactured in the Ohio Valley.

In the last forty years, new techniques have allowed glass production, an art form 3,600 years old, to reach new heights. In the 1950s, a handful of artists began designing and creating unique non-industrial pieces in their private studios. Thus the studio glass movement was born. Early works by pioneers of the movement, including Dale Chihuly, Toots Zynsky, and the "father" of American studio glass, Harvey Littleton are represented.


Folk Art

Beginning in the 1910s, following the Armory Show, many early American modernists considered folk art an unfettered national precedent for their pared-down, semi-abstract, individual styles. A few foresighted collectors began acquiring folk art in the 1920s, and a number of important exhibitions occurred in the 1930s, but in the histories of American art, folk art, both the traditional craft produced in isolated regions, or more generally the creative products of self-taught, non-academic artists, was overlooked until the 1970s, when many artists and collectors became interested in living folk artists. (left: Minnie Adkins (b. 1934), Black Bear, 1987, carved and painted basswood, 29 x 4 x 11 inches, 1991.46.1. Huntington Museum of Art)


There are many labels for folk artists and their work, including naïve, primitive, self-taught, untutored, homemade, vernacular, isolates, outsider, visionary, eccentric and insane. Whatever the name, folk artists, like all artists take elements of their lives and portray them in extremely original artistic expressions. The Huntington's collection was obtained mainly from the southern Appalachian region



Object labels from the exhibition:

Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828)
Bishop Butson
circa 1790
oil on canvas
Gift of George L. Bagby
Gilbert Stuart was one of America's first great painters. A native of Rhode Island, he showed talent for drawing at an early age, and he became an apprentice to the Scottish painter Cosmo Alexander, with whom he journeyed to Scotland. Upon his return, Stuart established himself as a portrait painter in the Newport area. The rumblings of war, however, sent Stuart across the ocean again to London, where he received assistance, training and employment from the expatriate American Benjamin West. Stuart eventually was in great demand as a portraitist, but his extravagant lifestyle and mounting debts forced him to move in 1787 to Ireland. He received steady commissions for paintings, including this portrait, done in the fluid style that was a hallmark of Stuart's work, of Christopher Butson, who was elevated to the position of Bishop of Clonfert in 1804. Stuart generally preferred bust-length views, reserving full-length portraits for those of the highest stature.
In 1792, again plagued by debt, Stuart sailed for the United States, where he rapidly established his reputation as a portrait painter. His likenesses of George Washington and many other notables of the young republic were held up as standards by which other painters of the day were measured.
Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872)
Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872)
Portrait of Susan Walker Morse
circa 1820
oil on board
Gift of Alex E. Booth, Jr.
Samuel F.B. Morse is best known as the inventor of the telegraph machine and Morse code, which revolutionized communications during the nineteenth century. But he began his career as a painter, traveling from his native New England to train in England under Benjamin West and others. A co-founder of the National Academy of Design, he desired to change the status of American artists through better teaching, more informed patrons, and accessible fine art. Failing to win over the American public with his history painting, he took up portraiture, a subject for which he had little regard, but which provided a source of revenue. In 1837, piqued by the refusal of Congress to consider him for a commission, he turned his back on the world of painting to concentrate on his experiments with electronic communication.
This portrait of his first child, Susan, was painted when she was about one year old. Morse had not fully refined his portrait style at this time, and there is little of the formal "grand manner" style that would become a hallmark of his work. The playful subject matter is less stylized than the portraits of leading citizens, both in New England and South Carolina, which Morse painted. Susan is known to feature in at least one other work by her father.
Sala Bosworth (1805-1890)
Mrs. Samuel P. Hildreth and Harriet E. Hildreth
circa 1826-1827
oil on canvas
Janet Seaton Humphrey Bequest
Sala Bosworth was born in Massachusetts, but moved to the Marietta, Ohio area in 1818. Founded in 1788, Marietta still retained the sense and bustle of a frontier town. The young Bosworth had energy and a capacity for learning, matched by an interest in painting. His early works are marked by an almost folk-art quality that was the product of no formal training.
Bosworth went on to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and his post-Academy works reflect a greater level of technical accomplishment.
Itinerant artists were a regular part of American life in the mid nineteenth century. Bosworth was one of at least 360 professional artists registered in Ohio during the antebellum period, and competition was keen. He eventually gave up painting professionally, but continued to paint throughout his life. Portraiture and history painting were the standard practices of the
frontier artist, including Bosworth. This portrait is of Mrs. Samuel Prescott Hildreth, wife of Dr. Samuel Hildreth, an early patron of Bosworth's. Mrs. Hildreth is seen here holding her sixth child, Harriet Eliza. The double portrait has a charm and sense of ease, and while exhibiting some of the folk-art tendencies of his earlier period, the portrait also reveals Bosworth's academic training.
James E. Buttersworth (1817-1894)
Yacht Race
no date
oil on panel
Janet Seaton Humphrey Bequest
During the late nineteenth century's "Gilded Age," many newly wealthy Americans adopted a lavish lifestyle, of which yachting and yacht racing became a part. For the marine artist James E. Buttersworth, this provided a new source of commissions, as many of the yacht owners wanted small paintings of their prized possessions to hang on board in the stateroom.
Buttersworth's life has remained something of a mystery because of an absence of written records, and much of his work remains untitled and undated. He was born in England in 1817 into a maritime painting family, at a time when "ship painting" was considered a trade rather than an art. Between 1845 and 1847, he came to the United States, settling in West Hoboken, NJ, not far from the energy and bustle of the New York City harbor. In 1851 he painted the triumph of the American yacht Americas, which defeated the pride of Great Britain in a race off the Isle of Wight. The patriotic sentiments fueled by this victory gave rise to the Americas Cup. Such races provided Buttersworth with a wonderful subject, as he was able to depict the drama and speed of the contest, as he has with the sharp diagonals of the vessels in this painting, rendered in fine detail. His work shows the high level of sophistication in technique that maritime art can reach.
Joseph Oriel Eaton (1829-1875)
Portrait of John Means
oil on canvas
Janet Seaton Humphrey Bequest
Joseph Oriel Eaton's career was marked by steady development rather than groundbreaking innovation. While he did paint landscapes, and a handful of classical scenes, he is best remembered as a portrait artist. In 1846, Eaton moved to Cincinnati where he rapidly earned a reputation as one of the finest portrait painters in the Queen City. Eaton worked in Cincinnati until 1863, and from then until his death in 1875 in New York, where this portrait was probably painted.
John Means (1829-1910) was born in West Union, Adams County, Ohio. He briefly attended Marietta College before joining his father's business. In 1854 John, his father, and his uncle Hugh purchased the land that would become the city of Ashland, Kentucky. They founded the Kentucky Iron, Coal, and Manufacturing Company and became the area's most prominent boosters. That same year, Means married Harriet Hildreth Perkins, daughter of Dr. Samuel Prescott Hildreth. The portrait by Sala Bosworth in the exhibition is of the young Harriet and her mother. This portrait reveals Eaton's great skill as a draftsman. In an era when portraiture needed to depict the characteristics of the sitter as instantly recognizable to the viewer, Eaton was well suited to the task.
David Johnson (1827-1908)
October, Cos Cob, Connecticut
oil on canvas
Gift of Herbert Fitzpatrick
The career of landscape painter David Johnson stretched from the 1840s to the early twentieth century, a period that saw a myriad of changes in the styles and influences that directed American art. Johnson modified his style periodically to experiment with different artistic approaches, ranging from the panoramic views of the Hudson River School to the more intimate, atmospheric landscapes of the Barbizon-influenced painters. His work, however, always exhibited outstanding draftsmanship, accomplished handling of materials, and a keen ability to record the beauty of the landscape.
Very few details are known about Johnson's training and career. He established a home and studio in New York City, but traveled throughout the rural countryside of the northeastern United States in search of picturesque subjects to record. October, Cos Cob, Connecticut is typical in many ways of the artist's work in its modest size and meticulous detail. He did at least six different paintings in the area around Cos Cob, a small town in Western Connecticut that would later become famous as a haven for American Impressionist painters. With his meticulous eye for detail and considerable talent with pencil and brush, Johnson was able to successfully record these "portraits of places" throughout his career.
George Inness (1825-1894)
Looking Over the River
oil on canvas
Gift of Herbert Fitzpatrick
George Inness was troubled throughout his life by epilepsy; a disease that was little understood when Inness was a child. He failed at school, and in an attempt by his father to establish him in a grocery business. Academics and business were not what the young Inness had in mind, however. He expressed an early desire to be an artist. He trained under the itinerant artist John Jesse Barker and briefly under the French artist Regis-Francois Gignoux, who introduced Inness to the works of the European masters. From 1850-1878 Inness divided his time between Europe, Boston, New York, Medfield, MA, and Raritan Bay, NJ. By 1874 he had bought a home in Montclair, NJ, becoming more settled.
Although Inness began his career as a follower of the Hudson School, his travels influenced the development of his work. By 1886, when this painting was executed, Inness' style had reached its full maturity. The soft colors and the atmospheric haze that are hallmarks of this period of his life are profoundly evident in this lush scene. The human figure gazing out across the river stresses the notion of correspondence between the human world and nature, and the spiritual manifestations of both. Looking Over the River possesses all the poetic intensity of the later works of Inness.
John Frederick Peto (1854-1907)
Still Life with Ginger Jar and Pound Cake
circa 1890
oil on board
Museum purchase with funds provided by the Sarah Wheeler Bequest
John Frederick Peto's artistic life was remarkable for a lack of commercial and critical success. Indeed it was forty-three years after his death that the first show dedicated exclusively to his art was curated. Whatever the reasoning behind his exclusion as an important artist of the late nineteenth century, post World War II scholars have attempted to place him as an important and gifted artist.
John Frederick Peto's work should be viewed as a continuation of a still life legacy that had its roots in his hometown of Philadelphia. He added to this tradition a wonderful handling of color, and an understanding of the nuances of light. The vast majority of Peto's work is made up of still lifes or card racks, the name given to the painting of the paper bric-a-brac that cluttered late nineteenth century life: business cards, advertisements, letters, invoices, etc. In his still lifes, the subjects often have a comfortable shabbiness that is matched by their function. This painting is of cake, a ginger jar, peaches, and almonds-all recognizable agents of sensory delight. These have been placed in a stylized fashion for this painting. Peto also worked as a photographer and his paintings are reminders of the careful attention to detail of the early practitioners of that art.
Alexander Wyant (1836-1892)
no date
oil on canvas
Gift of Mary H. Resener
Alexander Wyant ventured from his New York City studio into the Adirondacks, an area of incredible natural beauty in northern New York State, to sketch on several occasions beginning in the late 1860s. By 1875 he had built a summer studio in Keene Valley area. A number of his works focused on the scenic wonders of the rugged wilderness he found near there. This particular view is of Lake Placid, with the surrounding mountains visible in the background.
Many of Wyant's paintings, especially early in his career, were influenced by the styles of the Hudson River school artists that were popular in mid-nineteenth century America. These works emphasized the grand, imposing beauty of the natural world. Adirondacks, though a relatively small canvas, exhibits the panoramic view favored by these artists. Following a stroke he suffered in 1873, Wyant adopted a looser painting style, prompted largely by the paralysis of his right side. He trained himself to paint with his left hand, and his work became more introspective and painterly.
Ralph Blakelock (1847-1919)
Moonlight (Night Scene)
circa 1885-1898
oil on wood
Gift of Herbert Fitzpatrick
Largely self-taught as an artist, Ralph Albert Blakelock always managed to produce the unconventional. At a time when many American artists were heading east to France, he went west, and was introduced to Native Americans as a subject matter.
His western landscapes and paintings of Native American encampments, however, were painted at his New York
studio. His first works were of the narrative and literal style of the Hudson River School, but his moonlit landscapes and encampment scenes made up the bulk of his work, painted largely between 1880 and 1899. Sadly, Blakelock lived from 1899-1919 in institutions for the insane, or as a virtual prisoner of the woman in charge of his estate. Stricken by paranoid schizophrenia, largely ignored by galleries and collectors alike, penniless, and isolated from his family and society, Blakelock died a lonely death.
In Moonlight (Night Scene), the moon dominates the center; a dark band of color stretches across the foreground and trees frame the entire scene. Although the Imagery is atmospheric, close observation of the canvas reveals a degree of detail. Like many of Blakelock's works, this painting has a very high bitumen content that has precipitated cracking. He worked with an extraordinarily thick palette, often applying his paints with a knife. The overall effect is that of a visionary and a romantic.
J. Alden Weir (1852-1919)
June, Connecticut
oil on canvas
Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton
As a young boy Weir studied under his father, an artist and instructor of drawing at the United States Military Academy at West Point. When he was twenty, Weir studied in Europe, returning to the United States in 1877. He purchased a farm at Branchville in rural Connecticut. Though his earlier work was in still lifes and portraits, he became an enthusiastic landscape painter, rendering the surrounding countryside with careful attention to atmosphere and detail.
The broken brushstrokes in June, Connecticut, and the careful attention to light and color indicate a Barbizon influence. Weir was also anxious to adopt French impressionist techniques to American subjects. He helped to found the Ten American Painters, an Impressionist group whose aim was to break away from the conservative and restrictive principles and policies of the Society of American Artists. Weir's influence, however, went beyond the Barbizon and Impressionism. He was a keen observer of Japanese two-dimensional art. A popular and sociable man, J. Alden Weir was an example of the classic training of the academies of Paris combined with merging ideas of both Europe and Asia. This, allied with his genuine love of his Branchville farm, produced an art that helped redefine American landscape painting, away from the large and dramatic panorama and much more towards the small intimate landscape as seen here.
Irving R. Wiles (1861-1948)
On the Porch
circa 1893
oil on canvas
Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton
Irving Wiles showed great talent as a youth in both music and art. His father, Lemuel Wiles, was a noted landscape painter and his son's first teacher. Irving studied formally at the Art Students League in New York, and in Europe at the studio of Carolus-Duran and at the Académie Julian. Carolus-Duran, who had also served as John Singer Sargent's teacher, emphasized the benefits of "drawing with a brush," a talent that Wiles would use with great acumen in his painterly portraits.
Following his return from Europe, Wiles supported himself as an illustrator and an instructor at the art school in western New York that his father had established. While summering there during the early 1890s, Wiles completed a number of genre scenes that featured his wife, including On the Porch. These exhibit a freedom of paint handling and emphasis on light that was very impressionist-like. Wiles emphasized female subjects in many of his early figure paintings and genre scenes. It was his stunning portrait of the actress Julia Marlowe, however, that firmly established his reputation as a portrait painter. He became the successor to John Singer Sargent as the purveyor of the grand manner portrait in America, and his subjects included such luminaries as Theodore Roosevelt and William Jennings Bryan.
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
Near June Street, Worcester, Massachusetts
oil on canvas
Gift of Alex E. Booth, Jr.
John Singer Sargent was born in Florence to expatriate American parents. His artistic talents were noted at an early age, and he studied in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and at the atelier of Charles-Emile-Auguste Durand. His formidable talents, the ease with which he moved from country to country, and the demand for society portraits helped him to build up a substantial reputation. By 1900 he was the most sought-after portraitist in England and the United States.
Although Sargent is primarily remembered as a portraitist, his landscapes have received increasing interest from critics as an overlooked part of his oeuvre. In 1890, while in Worcester, Massachusetts to paint a commissioned portrait, Sargent continued his practice of plein air painting of landscapes. Near June Street, Worcester, Massachusetts provides an example of the ease and joy that Sargent could bring to his subject, and the influence of the Old Masters as well as his Impressionist contemporaries. The contrast in his colors and the freedom of expression seen here stand in stark contrast to the more formal and structured work of his portraits. Landscape painting afforded him the opportunity to practice art for pleasure, and this painting is evidence of the personal affinity he had with the subject, as well as his painterly qualities.
John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902)
Horseneck Brook in Winter
circa 1892-1894
oil on canvas
Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton
In many ways John Henry Twachtman typifies the American experience for artists in the late nineteenth century. He left his native Cincinnati to spend several years abroad (Munich, Paris, and Venice) and then returned to the United States to teach and paint. But in other aspects his career is quite remarkable. He was instrumental in establishing the Ten American Painters, a group that broke away from the Society of American Artists on the basis of the Society's perceived conservatism. He befriended fellow artists such as Childe Hassam, Theodore Robinson, and J. Alden Weir. His work was critically acclaimed, although not a financial success. Above all he em-bodied the spirit of changing influences in the American world of painting brought about by the Americanization of European ideas. This fusion of ideas and experiences resulted in a poetic vision of the landscapes that served as his subjects.
Twachtman settled in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1889, finding it close both to New York and his good friend and fellow artist J. Alden Weir, and providing marvelous natural landscapes to paint. Horseneck Brook was located on his property. The curving brook was a particularly attractive feature for Twachtman, and it provided him with subject matter for a number of paintings. He painted it in different seasons and from different locations, although winter landscapes are most numerous.
Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1858-1924)
Seashore with Figures
circa 1902-1904
oil on panel
Gift of Herbert Fitzpatrick
Born in St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1858, Maurice Prendergast moved to Boston in 1868. Little is known of his early life. He worked in a show card shop, where he learned the skills of lettering, graphic design, and illustrating. In 1886 he journeyed to Wales, where he painted landscapes in watercolor. But during a trip to Paris in 1891, he was transformed by the influences of the academic tradition of the Atelier Colarossi and the Académie Julian, other North American artists, and the sketching trips he made to the northern coast and among the streets of Paris. On a later trip to Italy, in 1898-99, Prendergast began to utilize color in a magnificent fashion, and painted an increasing number of oils from 1900 onwards. A favorite subject was the growing middle class in their environments of urban settings or strolling along fashionable promenades or in city parks.
This painting was one of a series he named "Promenades by the Sea Shore." Three broad bands cross the horizon, separating various planes of vision. The colors are vibrant and strong, while the figures have a fluidity of form that goes beyond his contemporary American Impressionists. It was this increasingly "modern" sensibility adopted by Prendergast that linked him to the artists known as The Eight.
William Glackens (1870-1938)
The Cedar Walk
circa 1914
oil on canvas
Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton
Glackens was educated at Philadelphia's Central High School and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he met Robert Henri, who had a profound influence on his life and work. The two shared a studio in Philadelphia, and the young Glackens was introduced to Henri's influential ideas on art, politics, and society. Glackens worked as an illustrator for newspapers, magazines, and books in Philadelphia and New York. At Henri's urging, he concentrated on oils following a trip to Europe, and he exhibited as part of The Eight in 1908. He was instrumental in the modernizing forces of the early twentieth century in American painting.
This colorful view of a scene in Bellport, Long Island, was painted during years when the Glackens family spent their summers on the shore, providing the artist with a host of subjects. Bathing and beach scenes exist in collections throughout the United States. The Cedar Walk exhibits many of the compositional features of this period in Glackens' life, including solid draftsmanship, geometric forms, the use of broad brushstrokes, but above all color. He combined the influences of the Impressionists with those of Manet and, in particular, the vivid use of color of Renoir. Glackens presents to the viewer a sense of color, light, and warmth.
Arthur B. Davies (1862-1928)
circa 1915
oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Arthur S. Dayton
One of Arthur Davies' most consistent subjects was women in unspoiled landscapes. In Esmeralda, his subject lies nude on the hilly shore of an un-identified land, striking a sensuous, yet not openly provocative, pose. The portrayal of women as symbols of purity, with otherworldly qualities, was popular among artists of the time. The women in Davies' paintings are often caught in moments of reverie, serving as expressions of the ideal in nature. It is unknown whether Davies intended to portray a particular character from literary or musical sources in Esmeralda, as the titles of his paintings were frequently enigmatic or unrelated to the subject matter.
Davies' career included many puzzling contrasts. His early work showed the influence the Symbolists, who delved into the emotional and sometimes irrational aspects of human nature. While his own work was firmly rooted in the romanticism of the nineteenth century, he established himself as a champion of modernism in America, most notably in his organization of
the Armory Show in New York in 1913, which brought the work of the European avant-garde to the American public. Davies was also curiously associated with The Eight, whose works were identified with an urban Realism that was worlds apart from Davies' ethereal landscapes. Davies was a complex individual whose personal and professional lives were shrouded in mystery and secrecy, but his work was consistently praised and eagerly collected during his lifetime.
Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925)
Kittery Mansion
oil on canvas
Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton
Willard Metcalf spent his early years in Boston, and like many American painters, studied in Paris. He was one of the first American artists to be exposed to the works of Monet at Giverny. He settled in New York in 1889, and in late 1903 or early 1904 joined his parents in Maine and dedicated himself to painting landscapes of the surrounding countryside. It was a
turning point for the artist in two ways: it helped him at a time of personal problems and ill health, and it gave his career a focus-the New England landscape. From 1904 onwards its beauty was the central focus of Metcalf's works, which were both critically acclaimed and a commercial success. When he died in 1925 the New York Times described him as "the leading American landscape painter."
Kittery Mansion depicts the Robert Follett Gerrish house in Kittery, Maine. The house was built in the early eighteenth century and has been in the Gerrish and Follett possession since 1797. The two families were involved in shipping and the location of the mansion allowed them access to the sea. Kittery Mansion reveals the strong Impressionist influence in the broken brushstrokes, but also shows an adherence to form that was absent in many contemporary American Impressionist works. There is an emphasis on color, light, and atmosphere that was unique to Metcalf.
Ernest Lawson (1873-1939)
End of Winter
no date
oil on canvas mounted on board
Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton
Training in Mexico, the United States, and Europe brought many influences to Ernest Lawson's work. In Mexico he had worked as a draftsman with an engineering company, in the United States he had worked with John Henry Twachtman and J. Alden Weir, and in France he had been exposed to the various works of the Impressionists. All of these forces helped shape his art, but his synthesis was unique. Critics placed his works halfway between Realism and Impressionism. However, what lends this painting its atmosphere is neither the draftsmanship of a realist, nor the dissolved forms and loose brushstrokes of the Impressionist, but rather it is Lawson's uniquevision of the American landscape and his vivid use of color as a means of conveying a sense of emotion.
Although not dated, this painting is probably from the period 1906-1918, when Lawson lived in New York and painted landscapes of the city and its surrounding areas. The heavy use of paint was characteristic of his work. In End of Winter there is a thick impasto in some areas and the canvas remains barely touched in others. The popularity of Lawson's work dwindled in the years after his death, and it is only recently that scholarship has once more "discovered" Ernest Lawson.
Emil Carlsen (1853-1932)
The Heavens Are Telling
circa 1918
oil on canvas
Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton
Born in Denmark in 1853, Emil Carlsen trained as an architect, although he never entered the profession. He moved to Boston in 1876. His early career was marked by a distinct lack of commercial success, forcing him to auction all of his paintings in Boston, a move that actually left him in debt to the auction house. His initial works were mostly still lifes, allowing him to use the precise penmanship skills he had acquired as an architectural student, with a commitment to natural renditions that would emerge in his seascapes and landscapes as well. A visit to Paris from 1884-1886 influenced Carlsen to give up painting still lifes and to paint more landscapes. This included seascapes, which was no surprise, as he was from a family of marine artists. On returning from Europe he set up a studio in New York and a family home in Falls River, Connecticut. He often painted with John Henry Twachtman, J. Alden Weir, and Childe Hassam.
The Heavens Are Telling is a particularly strong example of a Carlsen seascape. The focus is not on the sea, but rather on how it responds to the skies and the light of the moon. His use of colors contributes to the overall effect; blues and whites combine to allow the viewer to sense the moonlight. Painted on a large canvas, as many of his seascapes were, the vision is majestic, powerful, and yet also serene.
William Robinson Leigh (1866-1955)
Mounted Indian
oil on canvas
Gift of Herbert Fitzpatrick
The romance of the West as a subject for art, literature, and of course film, has been a constant in American culture. William Robinson Leigh was one of the most celebrated painters of Western art. Born in Falling Waters, West Virginia, Leigh exhibited a precocious talent for art in sketching his family's livestock. At fourteen he was sent to Baltimore to study under Hugh Newell, and he later went to Germany for 12 years of study.
Leigh's association with the West began in 1906, when in return for a free passage he agreed to paint a scene of the Grand Canyon for the Santa Fe Railroad Company. The company was so impressed with his work that it requested five more. He maintained a studio in New York, but returned to the West whenever he could. He painted scenes of native life, as well as landscapes and cowboys. Mounted Indian was probably painted in his New York studio after a sketch or preparatory work done on one of his many trips. Leigh spent time with numerous tribes of the Southwest, particularly the Hopi and the Navajo. It is unclear to which tribe the figures in this painting belong, or what the location is.
Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872-1930)
The Clipper Ship Captain
oil on canvas
Museum purchase with funds from the Sarah Wheeler bequest
Charles Webster Hawthorne was born in Lodi, Illinois, but raised in Richmond, Maine. At age eighteen he went to New York, where he worked on the docks and in a stained glass factory. He used this money to pay for art classes at the Art Students League. He studied under William Merritt Chase, and helped Chase establish what would become the New York Art School. Hawthorne traveled to Holland, where he was exposed to the works of Dutch masters, and to Italy, where he saw the works of Tintoretto and Titian. In 1899 he set up his own school in Provincetown, a town that would become an artist's colony frequented by Childe Hassam, Ernest Lawson, Ben Shahn, and Emil Carlsen, among others. Throughout his life he traveled, taught, and was frequently rewarded at shows and exhibitions.
The Clipper Ship Captain embodies Hawthorne's approach to using color as the basis for understanding a painting. The combination of the subtle transitions of color in the background, the weathered browns of the subject's oilskins, and the brilliant whiteness of his beard has a quite stunning visual effect. In addition to his figurative oils, Hawthorne painted a number of still lifes and watercolors. When he died, in 1930, he was popular with his students and fellow artists alike.
Frank W. Benson (1862-1951)
The Watcher
oil on canvas
Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton
Frank Weston Benson's portrait of his youngest daughter, Sylvia, is one of the last known plein air paintings he executed of his family members on the hillsides around their summer home in Penoboscot, Maine. Benson's earlier works had tended to be interior portraits of Boston society members, landscapes, seascapes, and murals. He had been influenced by French
Impressionists while studying in France, and when he joined the Ten American Painters-the group that broke away from the Society of American Artists over the perceived conservatism of the Society-he began to experiment more and more with an Impressionist style. From 1898, the year of Sylvia's birth, he began to paint his family members as they enjoyed their summers, allowing him to utilize two elements of Impressionism-plein air painting and experimentation with the effects of light.
Clearly evident here is Benson's mastery of the light. Sylvia shields her eyes from the sun (a classic Benson pose for his models) as she gazes out across the bay. The sails on the ship, the water in the bay and the ground on which Sylvia stands are all suffused in light and shadow. The contrast between the two creates a marvelous rendering of the dramatic impact direct sunlight has on subjects.
Gari Melchers (1860-1932)
Young Alsatian Woman
no date
oil on canvas
Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton
Gari Melchers was, perhaps, one of the most highly acclaimed American artists working in Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was born in Detroit, but left the United States at the age of seventeen to study in Germany and Paris. He established a studio in a Dutch fishing village, and worked there for the next thirty years, with the Dutch peasantry as his subjects for both interior and plein air views. He stayed in Europe until 1915, and then returned to the United States, where he spent the
remainder of his career painting American scenes and themes.
Melchers gained a reputation as a portrait painter, in the United States largely due to his rendering of Theodore Roosevelt. His portraits were not restricted to the elite of American society, however. He painted many portraits of the locals in Holland and other European locations. Young Alsatian Woman was one of the many representations he painted of real or idealized figures. It is likely that the painting was produced in the years 1905-1910, probably at a studio Melchers kept in Paris. The broad and free brushstrokes and the light colors of impressionism are evident in this gentle portrait.
John Fulton Folinsbee (1892-1972)
Outskirts of Trenton
circa 1924
oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Arthur S. Dayton
John Fulton Folinsbee was associated with the group of landscape painters known as the New Hope School, whose members congregated near the small Bucks County, Pennsylvania, town along the Delaware River to paint the scenic beauty of the region. The New Hope School formed an important component of the generation of early twentieth century American landscape painters. Folinsbee, however, often broke away from the pattern of colorful, Impressionistic New Hope scenes to depict the dark, gritty realities of industrial development and working class life.
Born in Buffalo, New York in 1892, he contracted polio at the age of fourteen, and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He studied with noted artist Jonas Lie, and with prominent landscapists Birge Harrison and John F. Carlson. Folinsbee's early works were primarily brightly colored Impressionist landscapes, but by the 1920s, the artist's work began to shift toward the realism championed by Ashcan School painters such as George Bellows and Robert Henri, as he produced a number of examples depicting local factories and workers. His independent vision can be seen in paintings such as Outskirts of Trenton, which demonstrate his heightened vision of an American landscape that was being altered rapidly by the handof man.
Robert Henri (1865-1929)
oil on canvas
Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton
Robert Henri was born Robert Cozad in Cincinnati, adopting the name Henri when he and his family left Nebraska to escape a legal difficulty that was later resolved. He received an academic training at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and in Paris at the Académie Julian and the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts. However, in the first decade of the twentieth century, he led a movement that rejected some of the more stifling practices and conventions of the artistic establishment. He was the leading force
behind the exhibit of The Eight at the Macbeth Gallery in 1908. His role as a teacher was perhaps more significant than his work as an artist. The publication of The Art Spirit, a collection of lectures and observations, in 1923, was one of the most significant events in twentieth century American art education.
Kathleen was painted at Henri's summer home in Achill Island, off the coast of Ireland. The children of the island provided Henri with plenty of subject matter for his portraits. Kathleen Gallagher was one of at least two sisters who lived in Dooagh on Achill Island, and as of the early 1990's, she still lived on the island with her children and grandchildren. As well as capturing Henri's approach to depicting children, this portrait also reveals much about his style. The thick and carefree brushstrokes, and the rich use of color, were both powerful elements in his art.
Franz Kline (1910-1962)
circa 1961
oil and collage on cardboard
Gift of Alex E. Booth, Jr.
Franz Kline grew up in the coal region of western Pennsylvania, and attended Boston University and the Heatherly School of Art in London. Along with Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock, he helped to develop the Abstract Expressionist movement in the exciting New York art world of the 1940s and 1950s.
Kline's most celebrated works were the large canvases that he painted in black and white. The scale and vigor of these paintings were new and refreshing, placing him in the forefront of the New York art scene as one of the "action painters." Although the black and white pieces are powerful and compelling, Kline did not abandon color, and many examples of his work feature a rich and varied palette, including this small picture from the last two years of his life. The torn notebook paper is a continuation of his use of newspapers and telephone directory pages as a basis for sketches he made in preparation for larger works, and these scraps occasionally found their way into his finished works. The vigorous use of abstraction, rather than representative strokes, reaffirms his commitment to the idea of the action painter. Kline claimed that each painting became a "genuine experience."
Robert Motherwell (1915-1991)
Alberti Suite No. 9
polymer on canvas
Gift of Alex E. Booth, Jr.
Robert Motherwell was born in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1915. He entered Stanford University in 1932, studying literature, philosophy, and psychology, and went on to Harvard and Columbia for post-graduate studies. Despite his father's misgivings, he decided to become a painter following a trip to Paris in 1938-39. He taught and edited a number of volumes on art history, criticism, and theory, and held a number of one-man shows. Motherwell was a leading figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement in America, and indeed introduced the term into the United States. He experimented with Surrealism and Automatism, the concept of subconscious impulses guiding the hand of the artist.
In 1967, Motherwell began a group of large paintings on a single theme, his Open series. The idea for the series was conceived when he placed one smaller canvas against another larger one and found the simple rectangular shapes both pleasing and intriguing. Using large fields of single colors, he placed lines forming incomplete rectangles, symbolizing open windows or doors. The Alberti in the title of this work is a reference to the poet Rafael Alberti. The two worked together on a project in 1972, A la Pintura, and Motherwell had a great respect for the art of poetry.
Alan Feltus (b. 1943)
oil on linen
Museum purchase
Alan Feltus's figural paintings have been labeled variously as Neoclassical and Realist. He arrived at his style early in his student days. He undertook graduate studies at Yale in the mid-1960s, and was an instructor at American University in Washington, D.C. for many years. In 1987, Feltus and his wife, the painter Lani Irwin, moved to the village of Assisi in Italy, where the careful composition and design of pictorial space of Italian Renaissance painters has influenced his own work.
The unnerving quietness that resonates from the paintings of Alan Feltus is there by design, intended to provoke and puzzle the viewer. Like the Surrealists, Feltus draws upon elements of the subconscious, creating an uneasy tension. Many of Feltus's works are autobiographical and can be read on many levels. Awakenings, addresses the sexual awakening of the adolescent boy, who casts a secretive glance at the bared flesh of the un-suspecting woman at his side. The woman exhibits a stare that is hauntingly vacant, a look of total exhaustion in her eyes. Many of Feltus's works from the period include representations of his mother, a beautiful but dominant woman who raised her son alone from his early childhood. The strained relationship with his mother is often manifested in Feltus's works. The resulting sense of mystery and psychological drama demonstrates the powerful narrative gifts of Feltus.
Wade Schuman (b. 1962)
Then and Now
oil on linen
Museum Purchase
Realist and figurative painting have recently made a resurgence in the art world, and Wade Schuman is very much a part of that resurgence. Born in 1962, he received training at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Then and Now is not merely an interior scene, but rather an invitation to the viewer to create a "narrative out of the mundane." This narrative is established by the juxtaposition of two central elements in each half of the image. The imagery in Then and Now has strong sexual overtones, sexuality being but one aspect of human relations that feature in Schuman's work. The complex set of relationships that make up human existence is the focus of much of his work. The duality and mystery of the subject matter is matched by Schuman's use of the surface. Then and Now represents not only a juxtaposition of ideas but also techniques. The contrasting picture plane, with the receding interior, and Schuman's use of color, light, and texture all help convey the notion of contrast, and therebyreinforce the enigmatic overview.
Daniel Chester French (1850-1931)
Victory, First Division Memorial (model)
circa 1926
Gift of Herbert Fitzpatrick
Best known for his colossal sculpture of Abraham Lincoln that resides in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Daniel Chester French was widely recognized as the dean of American sculpture by the turn of the twentieth century. He grew up in a Massachusetts family that numbered the Emersons, the Alcotts, the Thoreaus and the Hawthornes among their friends. His first commission was the 1875 statue of the Minuteman that commemorated the battle of Lexington and Concord. French was committed to the classical ideal. His work typified the Beaux Arts adherence to the ideas of form and symmetry, balance & proportion.
This work is a model of a statue that French created for a monument in Washington dedicated to those members of the First Division of the American Expeditionary Force who lost their lives in World War I. The winged figure of Victory, holding a flag in her right hand and extending a blessing to the dead with her left, was a compelling symbol of the sacrifice made by these Americans. It represents a new source of commissions for sculptors: models based on monumental public architecture, but produced for the home. The figure represents French's commitment to the classical idea in his sculpture, a new source of commissions, and a fitting reminder of those who died during the Great War.
Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (1880-1980)
The Star
Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton
Born to a wealthy Philadelphia family, Harriet Frishmuth received a private education in Europe and the United States. She decided to become a sculptor as a young woman and by 1900 was in Paris being tutored by, among others, Rodin. He impressed on her the importance of capturing movement in any work, which would remain with her throughout her career. Receiving her first important commission in 1910, Frishmuth established her own studio by 1916. In the intervening years she worked for the Gorham Company in New York, producing statuettes and domestic items such as ashtrays and bookends. She was inspired by the dancer, Desha, to craft the female form. Frishmuth's lithe nude figures, often struck in a dance pose, became her trademark. The Star was the first popular statuette Frishmuth made. The female form stands with her feet flat on the floor, back arched, reaching heavenwards with one arm as if to snatch a star from the sky.
Frishmuth introduced a more modern focus to her work after 1918,
most notably in her Speed, which was adopted as a design motif for hood ornaments on many luxury cars. The Depression in the thirties reduced the demand for art objects, and this, in addition to a fall from a scaffold in 1940, ended her sculpting career. She did, however, live to see her work become popular once more-she died at age 99.
Frederick William MacMonnies (1863-1937)
Pan of Rohallion
Gift of Herbert Fitzpatrick
Pan of Rohallion was originally commissioned to grace a fountain at the New Jersey estate of banker Edward Dean Adams. William MacMonnies, a young protégé of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, had developed an affinity for modeling in the Beaux Arts style that would stay with him throughout his career. Pan of Rohallion was important for MacMonnies. The commission to create it came at a time when he was desperately short of funds, and it enhanced his reputation. Adams was delighted with the finished product, and MacMonnies himself was so pleased with it that he created a series of reductions in various sizes.
Parlor reductions were becoming a major source of revenue for sculptors in the late nineteenth century as the economy sustained a growing number of people who could afford such decorative objects. Three different sizes of Pan were cast and four foundries were used to create them. This particular version is marked "Frederick MacMonnies, copyright 1894" and stamped with the Jaboeuf & Rouard foundry seal and inscribed "TO PAN OF ROHALLION ANNO DOMINI M.D.C.C.C.I.X.I." Pan is depicted with a great deal of skill and the piece has a definite charm and exuberance that would become a feature of MacMonnies work.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907)
Diana of the Tower
Funds provided by Major Henri Dourif and friends
in memory of Mrs. Henri Dourif
By the time of his death in 1907, Augustus Saint-Gaudens was the doyen of Beaux Arts sculptors in the nation. Born in Ireland to a French father and Irish mother, he began his artistic career as a cameo cutter. He studied at the Cooper Union Academy and the National Academy of Design, as well as at several French academies. He worked with both Stanford White and Louis Comfort Tiffany and did much to promote the work of young sculptors. His work represents much of the public display of confidence and grandeur that marked the Gilded Age.
Diana was originally created as a revolving weathervane atop the new Madison Square Garden, built in 1890. However, at eighteen feet and over 1,800 pounds, she was out of proportion and was too heavy. The sculptor replaced it with a smaller, more proportional version, which remained atop the Garden until the building was pulled down in 1925. Saint-Gaudens copyrighted the model in 1894 and produced reductions of the celebrated figure, including this version. Diana's nudity was a source of moral in-dignation for some New Yorkers, along with the rumors that Saint-Gaudens' mistress had modeled for the sculpture. But for the majority, it was a symbol of the optimism of the Gilded Age.
Bessie Potter Vonnoh (1872-1954)
Girl with Garland
before 1916
Gift of Herbert Fitzpatrick
Reflecting on her work, Bessie Potter Vonnoh commented that she tried "to look for beauty in the everyday world, to catch the joy and swing of modern American life." Many of her small statuettes, and later her fountain statues, certainly achieve this. Executed in a combination of Beaux Arts and Impressionist styles, these charming pieces were highly sought after by the public. Vonnoh's work is a splendid example of the French-influenced style that prevailed among many sculptors working for the new domestic consumers in the United States.
Born in St. Louis in 1872, Bessie Potter Vonnoh spent a childhood suffering from illness. She took to modeling in clay, and studied under Lorado Taft. She traveled to Paris, where she visited Rodin in his studio and was influenced by the French sculptor Jules Dalou. Her work often repeated the theme of motherhood, and seldom depicted anything other than a female figure, or groups of figures. Like many Beaux Arts sculptors, Vonnoh was fascinated by the use of Grecian drapery for her models, and Girl with Garland is clad in ancient Aegean robes. By the 1920s and 1930s, Vonnoh was making more and more garden statues, a popular form for sculptors to earn commissions. She stopped working by 1939.
John Buck (b. 1946)
East/ West
six-color woodcut: ink on two sheets of Suzuki handmade paper,
edition 10/15
Funds provided by the Birke Endowment Fund, Civic League Endowment Fund, Raymond Hague Memorial Fund, Raymond and Susan Hague, and the William Estler Fund
John Buck is a painter, a sculptor, a printmaker and a draftsman. Working on his ranch in Montana, he has established a personal visual lexicon of stylized flat symbols. He has stated that the imagery in his work is "personal and social, political, religious, popular." Buck was first exposed to printmaking while a student at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1960, and he also did graduate work at the University of California at Davis. Buck's woodcuts are grand in scale, bold in color, and contain a profusion of detailed drawings. In traditional woodcuts, the field is cut away so that what is left is what is printed. Buck reverses that, creating a white line technique where what he cuts out becomes the identifiable image.
East/West was taken from two woodblocks, handcut, carved and incised. Almost bursting from the orange border is a large red globe, at the core of which stands a large silhouetted figure. The background of the print is full of abstract signs, religious icons, planets, a cityscape, flags, figures, broken various kinds of mask-like heads, and other linear symbols. East/West has many possible connotations; the differences of eastern and western religions, or maybe more simply the differences between Eastern and Western United States. This print, so full of imagery, is a visual smorgasbord of color, line and interpretations.
Chuck Close (b. 1940)
carbon transfer etching, edition 4/45,
Published by Pace Editions, NY. Printed by Graphicstudio, Tampa
Museum purchase
The human face has been a constant feature in the work of Chuck Close. His monumental portraits, usually of friends and family members, focus on the essentials of visual perception and various means of transmitting visual information.
In his early portraits, any recognizable marks of the process were hidden by Close's fastidious technique. Using an airbrush to cover his steps, he created works that bore a similarity to colossal photographic reproductions. Over time, he experimented with technique. His paintings began to show the marks of his working method, as he divided them into visible grids or used distinct dots of paint to create the image. In the late 1970s, he created a number of works by pressing his fingerprints with stamp-pad ink or paint onto a surface. Taking his unorthodox methods into the printmaking realm, he stretched many of the processes to the limit as he experimented with lithography, aquatint, and etching. For this series, Close first drew the portraits on mylar film, and then transferred them directly onto copperplates using carbon tissue. The plates were then bitten in a ferric chloride solution. The resulting edition of forty-five stands as a remarkable tribute to the skills of the artist and printer.
Willie Cole (b. 1955)
Man, Spirit, Mask (triptych)
left image: Photo-etching, embossing, and hand coloring with lemon juice on medium weight, cream wove paper
center image: Screen print, lemon juice, and scorching on medium weight, white wove paper
right image: Photo-etching and color woodcut on same paper as left image, Edition 27/40
Museum Purchase
Willie Cole changes discarded household objects into symbols of power. He is known for turning ironing boards into evocations of slave ships, and steam irons into spirit masks. Memory, the past, and how they can be made relevant to the present are important issues in Cole's work. He works in a variety of media, including installation, sculpture and prints. In this triptych, he uses multiple printing procedures, and some non-traditional methods such as lemon juice, and actual scorching. In the left image he presents a self-portrait superimposed with steam hole and slit patterns found on the bottom of an iron, alluding to scarification, tattooing or branding. The center image consists of the same steam hole and slit patterns found in the left image, identified with the bottom of an iron, but this time part of the burnt pattern, as if a hot iron was left too long on a clean, starched, white sheet. In the right image, the same self-portrait as in the left image has been inverted, with a color woodblock print-the aerial view of an iron-superimposed on top. This print evokes the spiritual power and magic of an African mask.
Cole's use of "found objects" speaks to a number of societal issues, including the fate of African-American women and immigrants to work as maids or nannies; the consequences of living in a consumption-oriented, throw-away society; and the deeper issues of racial prejudice and hatred. Cole's art constitutes both cultural critique and spiritual reinvestment.
John Steuart Curry (1897-1946)
John Brown
Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton
The career of John Steuart Curry has been eclipsed by the other members of the American Regionalist movement, Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood. Midwestern Regionalism was a phenomenon that drew attention away from the social realism of New York, and instead focused on Midwestern farm life, small towns, the inhabitants and their religions, the history of
mid-America, and the coexistence of man and nature.
John Steuart Curry was born on November 14, 1897, on a farm near Dunavant, Kansas. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, and went on to the Art Institute of Chicago. He worked as a professional illustrator from 1921 to 1926, and his work appeared in popular magazines. By 1928, he produced his first "regionalist" painting, and gained almost instant success. His paintings depicted farm subjects, picturesque landscapes, storms, tornadoes and floods, the circus, and the spectacle of American sports. Curry received a commission in 1937 to decorate the Kansas State Capitol building in Topeka, for which he planned a controversial panel depicting John Brown. Curry also executed a separate, half-length oil painting of John Brown, and a lithograph of the same subject. This lithograph was done as a figure study for the Kansas mural in 1939, and published in an edition of 250 in 1940.
Jim Dine (b. 1935)
Nine Views of Winter, #4
silkscreen and woodcut, handpainting with gray acrylic
and white latex paint
Funds provided by the Birke Endowment Fund and Raymond Hage
Memorial Endowment Fund
The Venus de Milo is one of western civilization's most recognizable works of art. It has grown to symbolize the classical ideal that was perfected by the Greeks and Romans. The Cincinnati-born artist Jim Dine has appropriated this image, albeit an altered version of it, in a number of his works. Dine pays homage to his artistic predecessors and at the same time manipulates and reinvents the image.
Dine has frequently utilized repetitive iconography in the subject matter of his work. The Venus figure first appeared in one of his works in 1978, and by mid 1982, Dine began to make extensive use of the Venus image in sculptures and prints. By 1985 he had produced twenty-three editions of prints that featured the image. He continued to rework Venus in paintings, prints and sculpture in the 1990s. Nine Views of Winter, #4 is one of a series of editions the artist completed in 1985, a time when he continued to stretch the boundaries of the woodcut by recycling images, altering surface patterns and experimenting with color. In this print, the woodblock image was combined with a screenprint (printed four times) to create the finished work.
Helen Frankenthaler (b. 1928)
soft-ground etching, spitbite aquatint, sugar-lift aquatint and drypoint, edition 13/50
Purchase funds provided by The Fitzpatrick Society
Helen Frankenthaler has been an important figure in American abstract art for almost five decades. She was one of the early Abstract Expressionists, and was a pioneer in the development of color-field painting. Jackson Pollock became her mentor, and she adopted the physicality of his working method, the decision to work large-scale, on the floor, and with a bold and open technique. She poured and spilled paint directly into un-sized and unprimed canvas, thus creating unity of image and surface. She epitomized color at a time when Pollock, de Kooning, Kline, and Motherwell were painting in black and white.
Frankenthaler has also collaborated on over 230 prints, which are in no way separate from her concurrent paintings. Both are processes for experimentation and innovation. She was reluctant to try printmaking, for she prefers to work alone in the studio. Her husband at the time, Robert Motherwell, encouraged her to make prints. In 1972 she created the intaglio print Nepenthe, which is printed in six colors from six copper and zinc plates, for the first time utilizing overlapped areas of color. The Greek title of this refers to a "grief banishing drug and the pleasurable sensation of forgetfulness of sorrow or trouble." Perhaps Nepenthe is a symbol for a new start after her divorce from Robert Motherwell in 1971.
Keith Haring (1958-1990)
cut-out wood multiple with lacquer and silkscreen edition 7/10
Museum purchase
Keith Haring's colorful Dog offers a multitude of images to decode. Using the dancing linear style of comics and cartoons, the work presents scenes of struggle, movement, noise, mystery and unbridled sexuality. The only writing, the letters "TV," is marked upon the figure at the center, and is perhaps the artist's jab at the pervasive power of the modern media.
As a youth in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, Haring was preoccupied with sketching and drawing. His arrival in New York City in 1978 to attend art school opened his eyes to the incredible visual impact found in the work of graffiti artists. In 1980, he began a series of graffiti-inspired chalk drawings on the black paper panels that covered advertising spaces in New York subway stations. The drawings soon numbered in the thousands and brought a great deal of notoriety to the artist. Haring populated these drawings with imagery that would become part of his visual iconography: the "radiant child," barking dogs, pyramids, flying saucers, television sets, robots, computers, and dollar signs. His work in the commercial galleries was acclaimed by collectors and critics. His paintings incorporated the linear qualities of the drawings, while adding an assortment of bright colors. His tragic death at age 31 came at a time when the world embraced his art with enthusiasm.
Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Night Shadows
Funds provided by Collector's Corner and the Birke Endowment Fund
In his formal schooling, Hopper did not study printmaking. He studied at the Correspondence School of Illustrating (1899-1900) then at the New York School of Art (1900-1906), where he studied life drawing and painting with William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, and Kenneth Hayes Miller. Hopper supported himself as a professional illustrator from 1915-1923, and during this time taught himself to etch. It is ironic that Hopper, a master of twentieth century American art best known for his watercolor and oil paintings, received his first critical acclaim for his etchings. It is also interesting that once Hopper became recognized for his paintings, he made only a few prints.
Like his paintings, Hopper's etchings are usually evocative of a certain mood. City views, interiors, and nocturnal scenes were a continuing theme throughout his career. Night Shadows is one of Hopper's best-known printed images, and depicts a fleeting moment of a passerby on a desolate street corner, bathed in sharp light by an unseen street lamp. Seen from a bird's eye view, such as a person in an upper floor apartment, it evokes a sense of mystery, but also familiarity, and a keen sense of wariness for someone out alone at night in the city. It was printed in a large edition (somewhere between 500-600) for the New Republic in 1924.
Yvonne Jacquette (b. 1934)
Motion Picture (Times Square)
lithograph and screenprint in twelve colors, edition 17/60
Gift of the Fitzpatrick Society
Since 1971, Yvonne Jacquette has been looking down on the world from airplanes, and the upper stories of tall buildings, capturing a variety of subjects across the United States and the Far East. This birds-eye view has given new vocabulary and a unique perspective to the art of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Her style comes from many sources, including the photographs and films of her late husband, Rudy Burkhardt, to general stylistic movements such as Impressionism, Pointillism, Precisionism, and Abstract Expressionism. Jacquette began concentrating on nocturnal views in the second half of the 1970s, allowing her to explore various feelings in her work such as alienation, loneliness, mystery, and romance.
A favorite area for observation in Manhattan is Times Square. In 1986-7, Jacquette took a room overlooking the Square, exploring it in painting, prints, drawings, and a stage set for a rock performance. In Motion Picture (Times Square), the artist concentrates on the close-up, right side of the neon Coca-Cola sign, with the street traffic literally flowing diagonally down the print, reflecting car headlights, while Vuillard-like figures move along a highly textured sidewalk, which is awash in reflected colors. Observing from Jacquette's perspective, one unobtrusively senses the energy and vibrancy of this contemporary, nocturnal, everyday scene.
Jasper Johns (b. 1930)
Figure 2
lithograph, edition 50/90
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Hage
Jasper Johns draws, paints, and prints the same images, and while his favorite subjects are constantly revisited, they are also changed. These images are familiar symbols-the United States flag, cans of coffee or beer, and numbers. "I like to repeat an image,' he has said, to "observe differences and sameness." He began using numerals as a theme in the 1950s, primarily with encaustic and collage. He produced his first lithograph, Target, in 1960. Between 1960 and 1963 he worked on his first suite of numerals, 0-9. Johns was one of the first artists of his generation already established in the world of painting to experiment with lithography. By 1968, when this print was executed, he had helped to promote the print as one of the most vibrant and cutting edge aspects of art in the United States. Along with Larry Rivers, Robert Rauschenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, and others, his work helped pave the way for the Pop Art, Realist, and PhotoRealist movements that have subsequently become mainstays of American art.
Printmaking, especially in series, allows Johns to incorporate changes into each print run, mirroring his desire to change the viewer's notion of the object being viewed. He invites the viewer to rethink old patterns of examining the commonplace, everyday, and/or mundane.
Blanche Lazzell (1878-1956)
Petunias and Planes
color woodblock print
Museum Purchase
Blanche Lazzell is important as one of our early American Cubists. Lazzell was born on a farm near Maidsville, West Virginia. She earned three degrees in four years at West Virginia University-in literature, liberal arts, and fine arts. From 1907-1908, Lazzell studied at the Arts Students League in New York under William Merritt Chase, and she spent a year in Europe to further her studies. She was determined to be as independent and as educated as possible, and was not interested in a conventional married life. She returned to West Virginia in the fall of 1913 and opened her own art school.
In 1915, Blanche Lazzell moved to Provincetown, on Cape Cod, which became a refuge for many expatriate artists who fled Paris during the First World War, including a group who created prints in the Japanese woodblock tradition. The Provincetown print, also known as the white line print, or one block method print, was born here, and revolutionized wood block printing. Lazzell became an active member of the The Provincetown Printers, the first print wood block print society in America. She completed 138 color wood blocks between the years 1916 and 1955. Petunias and Planes is a mature work, noted in her record book as block number 134.
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
Red Barn
color screenprint, edition 132/250
Gift of Malcolm Goldstein
By the early 1960s, Lichtenstein was developing what has become known as his signature classic style, with its selection of subjects derived from comic-strip imagery and advertisements as banal as those in the Yellow Pages of telephone directories. Lichtenstein played a pivotal role in creating and sustaining the excitement and rapid awareness of art that was generated by the introduction of "Pop Art" to the public.
Lichtenstein's art has the capacity to be enjoyed and understood by everyone at least on some level due to the fact that his subject matter was pulled from everyday materials. He used magazine color, a graphic line, and ben-day dots. Lichtenstein's paintings were essentially pure, traditional painting, without collage, experimental materials or complicated techniques. It is in his prints that Lichtenstein experimented with materials. He made his first print, a combination of lithography and woodcut, in 1948 while a graduate student at Ohio State University in Columbus, and added the intaglio processes of etching, engraving, and aquatint in 1950. The Museum's print follows Lichtenstein's celebrated Haystack and Cathedral Series, what Lichtenstein himself referred to as "manufactured Monet's" of 1969. Between 1969 and 1993, Lichtenstein completed more than twenty extended print series, most of which comprise six to eight images.
Robert Longo (b. 1953)
lithograph, edition 34/38
Gift of Mrs. Virginia Van Zandt in memory of Richard Van Zandt
Robert Longo creates thought-provoking works in drawing, sculpture, mixed media, film, music videos, performances, and theatre. His works are unsettling, confrontational, and spectacular, always commenting on our contemporary world.
Longo's first body of mature work, Men in Cities, consisted of a series of larger-than-life drawings of a group of friends, dressed as young, urban, American men and women. Longo took still photographs of them, on his roof, where he threw tennis balls at them, or rigged them up to ropes and pulled them around-whatever it took to cause a violent, jerky pose. He projected these photographs onto large drawing paper, traced the outline, and then turned the drawings over to a professional illustrator, who filled
in the details, with Longo adding the final touches. The finished drawings came about in the same vein as a movie, with the artist acting as director and producer. There are sixty drawings in the series, and Longo made prints of selected drawings. Cindy was executed using a full image, untitled drawing from the Men in Cities series. The model is photographer Cindy Sherman, dressed in simple business attire. Like most of Longo's work, the image is immediately confrontational. The viewer is forced into a relationship with this figure, stimulating a need to provide an explanation of what is happening.
Philip Pearlstein (b. 1924)
Two Nudes on a Rug
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Dorsky
Philip Pearlstein has commented that he sought to rescue the naked figure from both the pornographers and the Expressionists. In 1955 Pearlstein was working out of New York, then at the very height of the influence of Abstract Expressionism, but he remained true to the tenets of Realism. For Pearlstein, the examination of the body represents an extension of the careful and detailed approach he had developed in his early landscapes. He has tried to divorce the human figure from all narrative interpretation, art historical references, and sentimentality.
This print is one of Pearlstein's early lithographs. The deliberate placement of his models so that a body part, in this instance the head, is lost to the edge of the paper is a convention found throughout Pearlstein's prints and paintings. The artist starts with a body part in his work, and builds his image from that part. In seeking to depict the human form, one of the most enduring and classical icons of western art, Pearlstein seeks to strip away all associations that we have with the naked figure, and render it in its most basic and fundamental concept. In Two Nudes on a Rug these goals are met in a wonderful example of Realism.
John Sloan (1871-1951)
Sunbathers on the Roof
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Harold Kagan
John Sloan, along with other members of the "Eight," received much critical attention in the first decade of the twentieth century. His work concentrated on the gritty everyday scenes of life in New York City, and countered the influx of Impressionism and European Modernism, such as Cubism, that hit the mainstream public in 1913. The work of the "Eight" became known as the "Ashcan School," a label that John Sloan came to loathe. He supported himself as an illustrator and teacher, and he was a prolific painter, printmaker, and draftsman. During his career, he produced over three hundred etchings, aquatints and a few lithographs. His subjects included vignettes of New York City life, nudes, portraits, and Santa Fe subjects. Many collectors thought his early subject matter too gritty and vulgar, and sales of his prints were very slow.
In 1904, Sloan moved to New York City. He began an important series of etchings entitled New York City Life, depicting his reaction to the energy of New York, representing people of all classes and many types of urban activity. Sloan was fascinated by life on city rooftops, which were centers of activity in the summer, and he depicted rooftop scenes throughout his career. Sunbathers on the Roof, from 1941, is a late etching.
Cy Twombly (b. 1928)
Roman Notes I-VI
suite of six color offset lithographs
Gift of Malcolm Goldstein
Cy Twombly's series of six prints Roman Notes (combined here as one image) features deliberately ambiguous imagery. What appears to be writing is in reality non-writing; the familiar turns out to be unfamiliar. A recognizable alphabet never appears. Faint images of similar inscriptions loom in a blue scrawl underneath the bolder black lines. Writing and language, so important to the communication process, stay outside the viewer's grasp, kept secret by an inability to decode the symbols.
A native of Lexington, Virginia, Twombly studied at Washington and Lee University, The Art Students League in New York, and Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he was immersed in the avant-garde atmosphere of the school. Drafted into the United States Army, he studied cryptography, and in free periods practiced drawing in an unlighted room, in order to impose a style that sprang more from the subconscious. As Twombly's career matured, he made use of written letters and words in his abstract paintings. He moved to Rome in 1957, and painted a number of subjects drawn from Roman mythology. In the mid-1960s, he began a series of works known as his "grey-ground" series, featuring swirling calligraphic lines on a grey background. The basic structure of the Roman Notes prints was formed from this series.
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Campbell's Soup I, Consommé
color screenprint
Funds provided by the Raymond and Susan Hage Endowment Fund
One of America's great Pop artists, Andy Warhol made post-war icons out of everyday commercial products, such as the Campbell's soup can, the Coca-Cola bottle, and the Brillo box. He utilized the commercial screenprint process for both his prints and his paintings. He exploited the mechanical side of silkscreen to challenge the air of mystery of the artist's hand that has played such a key role in art making since the Renaissance.
Born Andrez Warhola near Pittsburgh, he grew up in lower working class surroundings, and studied pictorial design at Carnegie Institute of Technology. After graduation in 1949, he moved to New York, earning his living in commercial art. Warhol began working on a series of pictures separate from his advertisements and illustrations. Although they shared
affinities with his advertising work, their intent was just the opposite, a commentary on the nation's consumer-driven obsessions. The idea of raising the everyday to a new level, and making people really look at these objects that had become invisible in their familiarity, was universal among pop artists. Throughout the fifties and sixties, Warhol produced work at an amazing rate, and referred to his studio as "The Factory." Warhol was closest to achieving his goal of a truly democratic art in his professionally printed silkscreen editions from the mid-1960s, which includes the series from which the Museum's print comes. They were made in large editions, inexpensive, and available to everyone.
Howard Ben Tré (b. 1949)
From Joe H.
sandcast glass
Museum purchase
Many of Howard Ben Tré's sculptures resemble remnants of bygone civilizations. The hulking shapes of glass appear to have been dug from subterranean burial grounds, and even the glass itself seems weathered and timeworn. Pierced with metal rods and corroded copper shrapnel, the works communicate familiar forms that seem at odds with their bodies of glass, a material that is so often sparkling and fragile.
As he lived and studied in the American northeast, the sight of rusting machinery and abandoned factories of industrial America struck a responsive chord with Ben Tré. He maintains an abiding interest in archaeology, and found that the hunks of cast iron and derelict buildings he observed in Providence, Rhode Island were links to the lives of many workers. For Ben Tré, these relics held personal and political significance. His father was a carpenter in Brooklyn, and Ben Tré himself went to Brooklyn Technical High School and later worked as a machinist. As he pursued a graduate degree in glass and sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design, he naturally gravitated to an art that was rooted in his life experiences. He was one of the first members of the American studio glass movement to pursue large-scale casting in glass. His inspiration from archaeology and the past, seen in early works such as this, continues to play a major role in his artistic vision.
Dale Chihuly (b. 1941)
Red and White Serape
blown glass
Museum purchase with funds provided by Collector's Corner
The colorful patterns and rich textures found in the blankets used by Native Americans of the southwest have been an enduring fascination for glass artist Dale Chihuly. He studied weaving and textiles as a college student, and first used glass in his artwork in tapestries featuring strips of glass woven into the fabric. For many years Chihuly has been a collector of trade blankets made by companies to sell to the Native American market. These remarkable textiles were usually based upon traditional designs, but often freely experimented with pattern and color, resulting in dazzling geometric works that seem to prefigure the abstract paintings of the modern era. For Chihuly, these designs served as an inspiration for his first major series of works in glass, the Blanket Cylinders, between the years 1975 and 1976.
Chihuly is undoubtedly the most recognizable name in contemporary studio glass. He is one of the few American artists who have had a one-man show at the Louvre. His work has often ventured into the monumental, but he looks back with great pride at the small pieces of his early career, calling the Blanket Cylinders and the Baskets that followed, "two of the most influential series I created."
Fritz Dreisbach (b. 1941)
Mongo Vase in Pretty Pastel Colors
blown glass
Museum purchase with funds provided by Collector's Corner
The cascading ribbons of color that flow through the layers of crystal in this work bear witness to the playful but authoritative glassmaking skills of Fritz Dreisbach. Swaying with the fluid motion induced by the successive gathers of hot glass, the colors have been choreographed by Dreisbach to draw attention to the wonderful shape-shifting qualities of the material. Although identified with the innovative practitioners of the modern studio glass movement, he borrows techniques that have been used by glass craftsmen for centuries, such as the Venetian latticino technique seen here, which allows him to include twisting threads of opaque glass within his work, formed by introducing colored glass chips and threads to hot gathers of crystal. The vessel makes a clear break with tradition, with its deliberate lack of the symmetry and thinness that has been sought by traditional glassmakers. The pieces become quite large and present a challenge to continue working. In the final step before the piece is cooled, Dreisbach reheats the vessel a number of times, then swings and spins it to achieve its final frozen form. The resulting works are fitting tributes to the technical skill and imagination of one of America's most influential glass artists.
Stephen Dee Edwards (b. 1954)
Matt Orange Lattice Physalia
hand worked glass, cane work, sandblasted, acid-etched, glass powders
Funds provided by Susan and Raymond J. Hage
Memorial Endowment Fund
There is a link between the mediums of glass and water. Both are liquids, both can distort light, and the very creation of glass is dependent on the power of the earth's oceans to break down organic compounds. It is not surprising, therefore, that a number of studio glass artists, including Stephen Dee Edwards, have turned to the oceans as a source for subject matter. It was not just the obvious shared properties of glass and water that drew Edwards' attention, but also his childhood along the Pacific coast of California.
Matt Orange Lattice Physalia is a highly colorful abstract based on a Portuguese Man-of-War. Edwards created a number of Physalia sculptures in the early 1980s, and his work became well known for its fluid, almost choreographed, forms. The serene top surface hides a busier underneath, like the source of inspiration for this piece. Molten glass suggests the surface appearance of an ocean-borne creature. Edwards worked with hot glass as a means of reproducing these qualities, but also involved a host of technical processes to achieve the finished effect. The use of canes, powders, bits, and color bars meant that each of his sculptures took many weeks of preparation before he could work with the glass itself. Despite the technical aspect of his work, Edwards has stated that it always played a subsidiary role to his conceptual concerns.
David Huchthausen (b. 1951)
vitrolite glass
Funds provided by Sixth Annual Benefit Antiques Show
Early in his career Huchthausen worked in hot blown-glass. His teachers were Harvey Littleton at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Joel Philip Meyers at Illinois State University. Throughout most of the seventies he produced series that represented a diverse and eclectic mix of influences; music, religion, magic, primitive culture, and ritual. By 1978 he began to expand his involvement in cold glass techniques. It was from this background that the Leitungs Scherben series sprang.
LS1282 is one of the Leitungs Scherben series that David Huchthausen made between 1981 and 1988. The literal translation of this German phrase is "fragments of a means of transmission, guidance, or control." The artist has stated that they may be seen as pieces "ripped away from a larger structure, alluding to some previous existence or purpose." This is, perhaps, a result of Huchthausen's initial interest in architecture. Like many of the early studio artists in glass, he entered art or design school hoping to excel in a medium quite different from glass. Like many of the same artists, when he discovered glass he became fascinated with the aesthetic and creative potential that can be realized in this field.
Harvey Littleton (b. 1922)
Opportunity Trap
hot-drawn glass
Museum purchase
The arcs of glass that make up Opportunity Trap bear witness to the strange wonder inherent in the material. The glass continues to communicate the dynamism and rhythmic energy the artist harnessed and guided as he constructed the work. Harvey Littleton saw great potential in pairing artists with this magical material. Leading the way with his own imaginative work, he guided a generation of students to use glass as a medium that went beyond craft into the realm of painting and sculpture.
Littleton grew up in Corning, New York, where his father was director of research for Corning Glass Works. He received a degree in industrial design from the University of Michigan. Given the opportunity to utilize some of the resources at the Corning factory in 1942, he created a cast glass sculpture of a human torso, but he discounted the idea that artists could work in glass outside the factory setting. He became a ceramics artist and joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin in 1951. During a trip to Italy in the 1950s, he observed the small furnaces of glass souvenir makers in Murano, and this revived the interest he had in artists working in glass. He introduced glassblowing classes at the University of Wisconsin, attracting students such as Chihuly and paving the way for the modern glass movement in the United States.
Concetta Mason (b. 1956)
Blue Breeze
blown glass, controlled breaking technique, enameled
Gift of the artist
Concetta Mason emerged in the 1980s as one of many promising young studio glass artists. While a student at Southern Connecticut State College she became interested in the technique of glass blowing. She attended the Pilchuck School of Glass in Stanwood, Washington, and entered the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1982, studying glass blowing as well as textiles and sculpture. The process that Mason uses to create her vibrant pieces is one that she pioneered in the late 1970s. The creation of forms and vessels was just the first stage of her process. Once produced, these objects were then broken, using thermal shock, to produce shards and fragments. These were then sandblasted, enameled, and then re-fired. As Mason noted "this redefines the new parts into a reconstructed original."
Mason's sculptures have a decidedly architectural element, and the profusion of colors and patterns resemble those often found in textiles. The fusion of the design element with the technical process lends her work a truly unique aspect. In Blue Breeze, the internal pegs are juxtaposed against the rounded curves of the two elements of composition. The bright blue, black, gold, and clear glass-found in the base-all combine to give this sculpture a tactile elegance.
Joel Philip Myers (b. 1934)
off-hand blown glass
Gift of the artist
The vital role of the hand in human endeavors has inspired many artists to focus upon it in their work. Glass artist Joel Philip Myers has interpreted this common symbol in a joyful, exuberant way. His blown glass hand form, emblazoned with swirling colors, appears to be strolling or even dancing.
Myers' entry into the field of studio glass was unusual in that he did not come from a university program such as the one established by Harvey Littleton at the University of Wisconsin. His academic background was in graphic design (Parsons School of Design) and ceramics (BFA and MFA, Alfred University). Despite his lack of expertise in glass, he was hired as Director of Design in 1963 at Blenko Glass Company in Milton, West Virginia, a position he held until 1970. He learned to blow glass, and put in many hours to perfect his technique. Myers left Blenko to establish a studio glass program at Illinois State University, where he remained until his retirement in 1996. While there, he continued to explore his own ideas and hone his skills at blowing and manipulating glass. His work has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Japan, and Europe.
Paul Stankard (b. 1943)
Pink Lady's Slipper Footed Botanical
Museum purchase
One of the few native orchid species in North America, the pink lady's slipper must usually be observed in its forested environment. Glass artist Paul Stankard has captured the distinctive shapes and colors of this stunning gift of nature with remarkable accuracy, suspended in a column of crystal. The artist also provides a look at the subterranean roots and bulbs that
nourish the plant. The magnificent glass objects he creates are reflections of his careful observation, immaculate craftsmanship and a desire to communicate the spiritual beauty he sees in nature.
Trained as a scientific glassblower at Salem Vocational Technical Institute in Penns Grove, New Jersey, he worked in industry for nearly a decade. He began to delve into the creative potential he saw in lampworking, a centuries-old technique that softens and manipulates glass rods over an open flame. He experimented by producing novelties and rudimentary floral paperweights. In 1985, he produced his first "botancals," which encased his floral creations in large vertical blocks of crystal. Unlike paperweights,
which are viewed from the top and depend upon optical effects to create the illusion of depth, these works can be observed from all sides. These labor-intensive sculptures require a great deal of manipulation and exacting skill to achieve their lifelike qualities.
Mary Ann "Toots" Zynsky (b. 1951)
The Exotic Birds, African Dream Series
heat-fused and slumped glass threads
Museum Purchase
Like many of the leading figures of the studio glass movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Mary Ann "Toots" Zynsky studied different media before "finding" glass. She initially trained as a painter at the Rhode Island School of Design. Gradually her work became more and more involved with the use of glass. From 1971-1973 she collaborated with Dale Chihuly in establishing the highly regarded Pilchuck Glass Center in Stanwood, Washington. She used glass as both a medium for sculptured pieces and as a device in her performance-installations. In 1982 she had a single-artist show in New York, when for the first time her use of fused glass threads was widely displayed.
Her bowls, brightly colored and made of small strands of glass, appear almost woven. It is a fusion of her work in textiles, design, color, and glass that results in a unique approach to the traditional form of the vessel. Furthermore it is a fusion of new technology and ancient influences. While on a trip to Ghana in 1984, she was dazzled by the array of colors in the textiles found in the marketplace. This experience was then translated to the array of brilliant colors found in her glass work. Her works are known for their exotic appeal and are instantly recognizable.
Minnie Adkins (b. 1934)
Black Bear
carved and painted basswood
Gift of Mr. Robert B. Egelston
Self-taught artist Minnie Adkins grew up in the mountains of northeast Kentucky, the daughter of a tobacco farmer. She did some whittling as a child, making small roosters and horses. When her husband Garland was laid off, she took up her knife again and began selling small roosters at flea markets. She noticed the wooden carvings on display in the window of a local art gallery, which inspired her to create larger figures. She has been carving ever since, transforming wood into the lively animals of the
Kentucky hills, or creating a tableaux of biblical subjects. The animals most frequently found in Minnie Adkins' menagerie are roosters, foxes, opossums, and bears. She collaborated with her husband on larger pieces until his death in 1997, Garland doing the initial shaping, and Minnie finishing and painting.
In addition to her work in wood, she has painted, including the illustrations for a children's book, Bright Blue Rooster, and she designs quilts. In 1991, she designed a cameo glass vessel for The Pilgrim Glass Corporation. In 1999, she married Herman Peters, a retired pipe fitter and welder, and the two have now begun to translate Minnie's designs into metal. Her work has been exhibited and acquired by public and private collections throughout the nation.
Attributed to Alexander (Asa) Ames (1823-1851)
Bust of a Young Man
circa 1847
polychromed yellow poplar
Funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Harold Nichols, 1978
Antiques Show Fund
Asa Ames's story is a fascinating, and ultimately tragic, one of an early folk artist. He was born in New York State, probably near Buffalo. Though his early career cannot be traced with certainty, by 1847 Ames was residing in Albany with a family, for whom he carved busts of three children. This was to be the pattern for the rest of his short life. Apparently suffering from tuberculosis, he spent extended periods of time living with various family members and friends, carving busts and full-length sculptures of the younger members of the household, perhaps in exchange for medical care. His work, of gessoed and painted wood, was characterized by a direct frontality with great attention to detail and dress. Sadly, he was finally overcome by his illness, and he died at age 27.
The Huntington Museum's bust, though unsigned and undated, can be attributed to Ames on stylistic and other grounds. An interesting feature is a circular hole into which some type of ornament was originally placed. It may have been a medallion recording an academic, athletic, or other achievement. Whatever it was, the prominence of its placement indicates great importance to its owner.
Reverend Herman Hayes (b. 1923)
The Family
Funds provided by Raymond J. and Susan M. Hage Endowment Fund
Herman Hayes is renowned for his wood carvings, both miniature and larger scale, that combine whimsy and astute observation of the human race. Hayes was born in Elkview, West Virginia, the son of a pipe fitter. Though he dreamed of becoming a professional boxer, his dreams were cut short by World War II, and he joined the marines in 1942. After the war, he took a variety of jobs, including door-to-door salesman. This work brought him into close contact with the public and made him a witness to the human comedy of daily life in America. Hayes eventually became a Methodist minister, spending 27 years serving several West Virginia churches until his retirement.
Hayes has carved by his estimation between five and ten thousand figures. In The Family, what appear to be several generations, and even a pig, are all bound together, partly with chains, in charming disarray. Like many of Hayes' pieces, it is carved from a single piece of wood, and even the links of the chains are carved with minute figures, while additional people perch on the base. It has that touch of humor that is Herman Hayes at his best.
Shields Landon Jones (1901-1997)
carved painted wood
Gift of Mr. Robert B. Egelston
S.L. Jones was born in Indian Mills, WV. He dreamed of being a veterinarian, but he left school in eighth grade and went to work for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, where he worked for 46 years before retiring in 1968. His wife died shortly after he left the railroad, and he faced a lonely retirement. In order to combat depression and help fill the days, he re-discovered an art that he had pursued as a young man, carving small wooden figures of people and animals.
As the years progressed and he became more absorbed in his artwork, the scale of his figures increased, with the largest, a self-portrait, approaching life-size. Though generally unnamed, the people he carved were drawn from his life's experiences, representing family, old friends, co-workers. He also produced sculptures of legendary figures such as John Henry, and religious figures of Jesus, and of preachers and their families. These sculptures were more than works of art; they were companions who helped ease the burdens of old age. In his later years, a stroke left him unable to wield the sculptor's tools as easily, and he turned instead to drawing the same type of distinctive humans that he sculpted.
Charley Kinney (1906-1991)
Knockin' Spirit
tempera and crayon on paper
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Vogele
Charley Kinney lived almost all of his life in the same small house off an isolated road in Lewis County, Kentucky, where he helped work the family tobacco farm. Growing up without electricity, running water, or phone service, Kinney spent much of his time in the woods, hunting and observing the natural world, for which he had a deep appreciation. He began making small clay figures of humans and animals that he baked in his stove, and he also crafted larger busts of historical figures. Kinney eventually took up painting and drawing. His subjects were drawn from both the natural and supernatural world, including the daily life of the farm, landscapes and local customs.
Many of Charley Kinney's works were inspired by the fire-and-brimstone religion of Appalachia. For him, it was a world inhabited by horrifying manifestations of the devil and restless "haints," or spirits of the dead. He claimed to have spent the night in a house where a "knockin' spirit" rapped repeatedly on the wall, and this incident appears to have inspired this work. Two men stand in agitated discussion in front of a log house. The conversation is relayed in boxes of text on the unpainted white surface. Kinney often used phonetically spelled text in his paintings.
Edgar Tolson (1904-1984)
Herod's Palace: The Christians Being Fed to the
Lions and The Beheading of John the Baptist
poplar, pine, cedar, popsicle sticks, paint, ink, graphite
Museum purchase
Edgar Tolson is thought by some to be the foremost Kentucky folk artist. He showed an early talent for woodcarving. Tolson went to school through his teenage years, finishing the equivalent of sixth grade. He became a lay preacher, and worked hard as a carpenter and farmer to support his large family, but he was plagued by poverty and illness. In 1957, Tolson suffered a stroke that left him bedridden for 18 months. In order to pass the time, combat depression, and help to strengthen his weakened left hand, he began to carve wood into "dolls." His work was eventually discovered by social workers in the community, disseminated to a wider audience, and is now held in collections worldwide.
Much of Tolson's subject matter was inspired by the Bible, for which he had a lifelong passion. This work is a religious tableau that is an intricate mix of biblical and non-biblical themes, with a combination of ancient and modern iconography. Created during the Nixon era, it has been interpreted as Tolson's reaction to the Watergate scandal, and the work was renamed Abuse of Power (Watergate) in a 1986 exhibition. Whatever Tolson's intent, it is a powerful and complex example of an influential folk artist's work.
Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933)
Trumpet vase
circa 1900-1910
glass, marked 401P1533-L.C. Tiffany-Favrile
Gift of Mr. Wilbur E. Myers
This vessel was crafted in the studios of an icon of American design, Louis Comfort Tiffany. Although many associate the name Tiffany with the famous Fifth Avenue jewelry store, it was Charles Tiffany, Louis's father, who established this firm in 1837. His son embarked on a career as an artist, and was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement's emphasis on fine craftsmanship in the decorative arts. Tiffany's goal became the introduction of beautiful decorative objects into every American home. His passion was glass design, and he established his own glass company in 1885. He became famous for his stained glass windows in both churches and secular settings, and for his Tiffany lamps, which cleverly made use of glass fragments left from window construction.
In 1894 Tiffany introduced his "favrile" hand-blown opalescent and luminescent glassware, named for the Saxon word "fabrile," or "handwrought." Tiffany sought to recreate the iridescent appearance of ancient Roman glassware that had been buried for millennia. This trumpet vase is crafted of blue free-blown glass with applied reeded foot. The signature iridescent rainbow of colors that appear as one views it has been produced by the application of a metal vapor, which was sprayed on and gently heated, before annealing.
Hobbs, Brockunier and Co., Wheeling, West Virginia
Morgan Vase on Stand
circa 1887
mold-blown glass
Museum purchase with funds provided by Raymond
Hage and Birke Endowment Funds
The Hobbs, Brockunier Company, makers of fine art glass, was founded in 1845 in Wheeling. The city was a center for glassmaking, with abundant supplies of raw materials and good transportation available by boat and train. Hobbs, Brockunier's new glass formula led to the manufacture of high-quality glass produced in a mechanical press, making it much more affordable for the average home. The company manufactured great quantities of it, as well as cut and engraved pieces and elaborate chandeliers. It became famous for its colored wares such as opal (milk glass) and peachblow, as well as its hobnail and crackle glass. By 1879, it was a leading glass company, with the largest gas furnace in the country.
In 1886, a New York auction of artworks from the estate of Mary Morgan, widow of shipping magnate Charles Morgan, included a Chinese ceramic vase with "peachblow" glaze. The price rose to an unheard-of $18,000, and the story was carried in newspapers around the country. Hobbs, Brockunier rushed to make a reproduction of the vase, and within a few months, it had created its own "Morgan vase" in pink (ruby plated over white) glass. This vase is mold-blown, with a pressed amber base featuring five griffins, an imitation of the wooden mount found on the original.
Inscribed Steuben, but possibly H.P. Sinclaire & Co.
circa 1920-1923
handblown glass with acid etched decoration
Gift of Mr. Wilbur E. Myers
At first glance, this black opaque blown glass vessel appears to be a product of the Steuben Glass Company. Its base is inscribed "Steuben" in block capital letters along with the cursive signature "F. Carder," the Englishman who founded Steuben in 1903 in Corning, N.Y.. Frederick Carder's fine designs established the preeminence of the Steuben name for the next 30 years. An astounding range of colored glass was utilized for objects ranging from utilitarian stemware and lampshades to lavishly crafted perfume bottles and baskets. He created more than 8500 designs over the course of his long career, retiring in 1959 at age 96.
Though Steuben produced a line of "mirror black" opaque wares, some with acid etched decoration, it is possible that this is not a Steuben piece, but made instead by Sinclaire & Co., which offered a similar line called "Nubian Black." A telling attribute of the HMA piece is the large pontil mark on the base, which is characteristic of Sinclaire glass. The Steuben signature may be explained by the fact that, in his later years, Frederick Carder often signed pieces of his design that were brought to him for identification, relying only on his memory of his many creations. Whether this piece is Steuben or Sinclaire, it is a rare and splendid example.
Artist Unknown
Powder Horn inscribed for Robert Cameron
carved horn, wood
Bequest of Herman P. Dean
Powder horns provide a fascinating glimpse into life in the Colonial era. Utilitarian objects designed to hold gunpowder for firearms, they also provided a smooth surface that was perfect for embellishment, both by professional carvers and by soldiers and hunters. Though many were plain and undecorated, for use by hunters with their dependable Kentucky rifles, others received intricate ornamentation. The decoration found on powder horns reflects the rigors of American frontier and military life. European motifs gradually gave way to uniquely American themes, including Indian attacks, hunting scenes, mythological beings, military forts, and even political events.
This powder horn is inscribed for "Robert Cameron 1760" in two registers enclosed by a cartouche. Under this, in smaller letters, appears "IACOPHAPLY 1760," which cannot presently be deciphered. It may be a place name, or the name of an object or something in the owner's personal or military life, perhaps misspelled. The area below this, and also a band encircling the butt of the horn, is filled with carefully carved images of a town with sloping roofs, steeples with crosses and rooster weathervanes, and a hatched flag. The rest of the field comprises images of a large ship, two fish, a windmill, and a mermaid with horn in one hand and plant in the other.
Maker/s unknown
George Washington's Cherry Tree Quilt
before 1852
cotton top and lining, cotton fiber filling, wool embroidery yarn
Gift of the Long family in memory of Wilhoit S. Long
Lyrical cherry trees decorate this remarkable mid-nineteenth-century bed cover. Although the maker is unknown, the cherry tree motifs resemble those made by Kentucky quiltmaker Virginia Mason Ivey (1828-ca.1905). Donor family history relates that Mahalia Dale Wilhoit purchased this quilt in Kentucky for $80 in 1852 as a birth gift for her daughter. The quilt evidently was kept as a showpiece, since it does not exhibit signs of wear and was probably never laundered.
The quilt is entirely hand-sewn. White-work squares alternate with appliqué cherry tree squares in the central field. The raised white-work designs, created by quilting stitches, are stuffed from the back of the quilt with inserted cording and cotton filling, a technique known as trapunto. The appliqué motifs appear to be stuffed, as well, but not from the back. The quiltmaker chose a rather unusual method for attaching many of her appliqué shapes, overcasting the raw edges with a herringbone stitch. The quilt's edge is finished with red piping and a green bias-cut binding. Colored fabrics were likely dyed with vegetable or mineral extracts and possibly manufactured in the United States. The "Cherry Tree Quilt" exemplifies prosperity and artistry of the Southern Highlands in the antebellum era. 

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