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Legacy: A Tradition Lives On

August 24 - October 29, 2006


The J. Wayne Stark Galleries at Texas A&M University is hosting the exhibition, Legacy: A Tradition Lives On from August 24 through October 29, 2006. This exhibition consists of over 60 pieces from 14 different artists and embraces the teachings from past artists such as Jacques Maroger and Louis Anquetin. Evan Wilson one of the featured artists stated, "I think that the Legacy show is quite significant in the world of art, because it shows a continuation of a rich tradition. And it's not just that we're honoring that tradition by painting or sculpting in a traditional style, but that we are expressing our own life's experience with the tools and craft we have learned. If we were musicians, our music would be called "classical", and so perhaps we are "classical" painters and sculptors. But, as in music, we are always looking for that new sound or visual expression which elevates our human experience."

Legacy is a story told through art passed down from teacher to student encompassing the techniques from four different generations. It started over 130 years ago when Louis Anquetin was hailed by contemporaries as "the Michelangelo of France." In the middle of his creative career, Anquetin turned against his own colleagues, charging that they too did not know how to draw or paint. He went back to the museums and studied and copied the great workers of Rembrandt and Rubens, searching for their secrets.

Among Anquetin's students was Jacques Maroger who, after Anquetin's death, continued the search for the techniques and formulas of the Old Masters. After becoming chief restorer at the Louvre Museum where he carried on the research of his teacher, Anquetin, Maroger eventually moved to America. He taught at the Parsons School of Fine Arts and the Maryland Institute where he had many students continue his teachings. After Maroger left the institute a few years later his prize pupil Ann Schuler and her husband Hans Schuler, Jr., also left their teaching jobs at the institute and started an independent school of their own called the Schuler School. The school continues to this day to teach Maroger's principles. Fast forward to today and you will find these teachings in the paintings and sculptures of Joseph Sheppard, Evan Wilson, Nina Akamu and Malcolm Harlow just to mention a few of the featured artists.

Joseph Sheppard, was actually one of Maroger's students and will be giving a gallery talk October 19, 2006 at 7pm entitled "The History of Techniques and Mediums in Art, According to Jacques Maroger." Sheppard's talk starts with the early Encaustic (wax) mediums used by the Egyptians and Greeks to paint their pictures. It follows the path of the history of art such as the first tempera paintings and the discovery of the first oil painting medium. The talk traces the oil technique through the early renaissance to the 17th century of Rubens and Rembrandt. He will also cover the rediscovery of Greek sculpture at the beginning of the Renaissance, which influenced the work of Michelangelo and Da Vinci. The talk ends with the loss of this special oil medium at the end of the 18th century.

The exhibit's sponsors include: Leroy Merritt; the Dorothy and Henry A. Rosenberg Jr. Foundation; Sidney and Jean Silber; Patricia and Michael Batza Jr.; Charlotte Truesdell; the Jack and Jean Luskin Philanthropic Fund; James and Barbara Judd; Jack Leigh; the Wilson Family Foundation; Cardinal William H. Keeler; Laran Bronze Casting, Inc.; Colder Than Jersey Productions, LLC, Universal Pictures; Schuler School of Art; Foxhall Gallery; Halcyon Gallery; John Bannon; Marin-Price Gallery; University of Maryland University College; the Midwest Museum of American Art, Elkhart, Indiana; the Westervelt-Warner Museum of American Art, Tuscaloosa, Alabama; the Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, Ohio; and the University of Toledo Visual Arts Center, Toledo, Ohio.


(above: from left: Louis Anquetin (1861-1932), Self Portrait, Joseph Maroger (1855-1962, Self Portrait, Joseph Sheppard, Self Portrait)


(above: A Puzzled Piece)

Teaching at the Maryland Institute of Art -- A Note by Joseph Sheppard:


I was artist-in-residence at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (1955-56) when I won a Guggenheim Fellowship that enabled me to travel to Europe and study the works of the Old Masters, especially Peter Paul Rubens and other 17th and 18th century painters.
When I returned to the United States, I was fortunate to be able to sustain myself and my family as a painter without teaching.
In 1960, a Baltimore TV station invited me onto a show to discuss contemporary art with two other local artists: Bernard Pearlman, a painter influenced by Cubism, and Emily Rothschild, a modernist. My point of view was of course on the side of the grand tradition.
At the conclusion of the lively debate, the show's moderator, Bud Leake ­ then the newly appointed director of the Maryland Institute ­ took me aside to ask if I would consider a teaching position at the school. It seemed that some students at the institute were complaining that no one there was able to teach them the traditional techniques of painting and drawing. My own teacher, Jacques Maroger, had left the institute a year earlier, leaving a void in that area of art education. Most of the new teachers had come to the school from Yale along with Leake and were disciples of the minimalist Josef Albers and similar artists.
I accepted Leake's offer on the condition that I would be able to set my own agenda and teach only two days a week -- that way, I would still have time to pursue my career.
The institute's fine arts department was structured so that all students had to take a fixed set of courses their first year. For the remaining three years, they could select from among a diverse group of teachers with varying techniques and philosophies. Teachers were not obligated to accept more than 20 students into a class, but I never enforced that quota because I was afraid of losing a good student.
When a second-year student arrived in my class, I explained that I was going to teach a special technique. I said that if they wanted to stay in the class, they would have to draw and paint my way -- which is also the Old Masters' way. I also demanded punctuality and flawless attendance. By the second week, the class would dwindle to around the 20-student ceiling.
On Monday morning, I would give an anatomy lesson on a specific section of the body, which was followed by drawing from a live model, with emphasis placed on the information set forth in the preceding lecture. The afternoon class consisted of more drawing from the model -- first with quick sketches of five minutes and then 20-minute poses. I would constantly point out and correct problems individually during those sessions.
Tuesday was all painting. Students learned to make their own materials, paints, mediums and boards. The 17th and 18th century oil-painting techniques were taught through copying Old Masters paintings, working from models or still life, and developing individual projects.
Some students were little influenced by the class. Many of them found their own way, and a few, such as Jeff Koons, became world-famous. Others stayed with me all three years.
I continued teaching at the Maryland Institute for 15 years, leaving in 1975 to live in Europe. Even today, after 30 or more years, some of my former students stay in touch. They make up the talented group seen here, whose works follow in the grand tradition. They are Nina Akamu, Daniel Graves, Douglas Hofmann, Michael Molnar, James Earl Reid, Robert Seyffert, Mark Tennant, Larry Dodd Wheeler, Evan Wilson, and David Zuccarini.
I am very proud of them and their accomplishments. This exhibition highlights a legacy of style and pedagogy that begins with Louis Anquetin (1861-1932), continues with Jacques Maroger (1885-1962) and Ann Schuler (1917- ) and carries on today and into the future.
- Joseph Sheppard

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