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Out of the Chateau: Works from the Demuth Museum
September 22 - December 7, 2007
Comprised of 34 works by Modernist and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts alumnus Charles Demuth (1883-1935), Out of the Chateau: Works from the Demuth Museum represents the first touring exhibition of the permanent collection of the Demuth Museum in Lancaster, PA. Lancaster provided Demuth with both artistic inspiration and personal refuge and it was here, in his "chateau," where the artist created the vast majority of his works. Lancaster was also the counterpoint to Demuth's engagement with an international community of artists, through his European tours and regular trips to New York and Provincetown. Curated by Anne M. Lampe, Executive Director of the Demuth Museum and organized at the Academy by Senior Curator Lynn Marsden-Atlass, the exhibition will be on view in the Academy's Historic Landmark Building from September 22 to December 9, 2007.
"Charles Demuth has long been one of the Academy's most renowned artists," says Marsden-Atlass. "His innovative approach to watercolor is revolutionary in the early 20th-century and remains a hallmark of the Modernist movement. We are pleased to inaugurate the tour of the collection of his eponymous museum here, and are excited to connect Lancaster, where he worked and from which he drew inspiration, and Philadelphia, where he studied and learned to perfect his art."
Many of the works have never or rarely been exhibited outside of Lancaster. Demuth's family encouraged his artistic development early in life, providing private lessons in painting as well as in the decorative arts. The Demuth Museum's collection includes rare examples of childhood works. The collection is also strong in early works made while Demuth was a student at the Academy, including the artist's only formal self-portrait.
One of Demuth's earliest vaudeville works from 1912 marks the artist's shift from his early figural style. From 1910-20, an especially prolific period, Demuth depicted stage performers in a fluid range of organic forms, largely rejecting any strict adherence to his academic realism. The floral works in the Demuth Museum collection present the range of the artist's exploration of this subject and reveal his increasingly sophisticated manipulation of the watercolor medium. Related watercolors in the Academy's collection include Field of Flowers and Gladiolus. Demuth's celebrated architectural works can be compared to Lancaster landscapes and urban scenes that enrich our knowledge of his work executed in his hometown.
Demuth maintained his ties to the Academy by regularly submitting works from 1912-1940 to the annual exhibitions. Out of the Chateau showcases not only Demuth's prodigious talent as an important Modernist master and Academy alumnus, but presents for the first time to a larger public the unique collection of another Pennsylvania museum.
For this exhibition the Demuth Museum will publish its first comprehensive, fully illustrated permanent collection catalogue that will include essays on the artist, scholarship on the collection, and a history of the Demuth Museum.
The Pennsylvania Academy will be the first venue for this exhibition, and will present a small focus exhibition from the Academy's collection that will include eight Demuth watercolors and other Modernists works by Arthur Dove, Georgia O'Keeffe, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, and Charles Sheeler.
Introductory Wall Text
Out of the Chateau: Works from the Demuth Museum
The Demuth Museum was established in 1981 in the former home and studio of Charles Demuth (1883-1935) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. A master watercolorist and pioneer of the precisionist style, Demuth found inspiration for his innovative art in his immediate surroundings. He created the vast majority of his art in Lancaster, honing his modernist vision from this small city's newly emerging industrial landscape and new forms of popular culture, along with the perennial offerings of his mother's flower garden.
Yet Demuth's art is not that of an isolated regionalist -- it is inseparable from his role within the international avant-garde. His participation in intellectual circles in New York, Philadelphia, Provincetown and abroad, and engagement with contemporary life in these artistic centers imbues his modernist output. Demuth's witty, ironic characterization of Lancaster as the "province" and to his home and studio as the "chateau" embodies something of the dual significance of these two realms.
The Demuth Museum offers a wholly unique experience of Demuth's artistic life and groundbreaking works. The Permanent Collection contains over thirty Demuth works, and is complemented by the rich primary and reference materials in the Archive and Library. The Demuth Tobacco Shop, the family business established in 1770 and the oldest shop of its kind in America is also part of the museum complex. Demuth's architectural subjects can still be seen in the nearby city and just outside his studio window where his mother Augusta's garden is cultivated with many of the same flowers and plants that inspired his work.
This exhibition marks the first occasion that the Demuth Museum Collection has been presented outside of Lancaster. Works in the collection span Demuth's career, from early childhood sketchbook pages to late floral works. Many works in the collection were long held in private hands in Lancaster, seldom or never publicly exhibited prior to joining the Demuth Museum Collection.
(above: Charles Demuth, Self Portrait, 1907, oil on canvas, 26 1/16 x 18 inches. The Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA. Photography John Herr. © 2007 The Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA)
Charles Demuth and Modernism
This focus exhibition presents eight watercolors by modernist and precisionist Charles Demuth (1883-1935) from the Academy's permanent collection and is concurrent to the exhibition Out of the Chateau: Works from the Demuth Museum on view in the next gallery. Charles Demuth and Modernism sets the artist within the context of his visionary peers, such as Oscar Bluemner, Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Sheeler, and Florine Stettheimer.
Charles Demuth was an active and important player in international art circles. In 1912 Marsden Hartley introduced Demuth to Gertrude Stein in Paris, France and for many years he frequented her renowned salon at 33, rue de Fleurus. It was there that Demuth met Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and avant-garde intellectuals -- artists, poets, writers, critics and collectors from around the world.
Demuth's role in the New York art scene was equally groundbreaking. He was invited to Louise and Walter Arensberg's European émigré salon, accepted into the circle of renowned photographer and gallery impresario Alfred Stieglitz, and an intimate at the studio celebrations of the Stettheimer sisters. Demuth's letters to Ezra Pound, Eugene O'Neill and William Carlos Williams reveal the painter's literary aspirations as well.
Beginning in 1916 Demuth regularly corresponded with Alfred Stieglitz. America's most visionary dealer, Stieglitz mounted his first Demuth exhibition at the Intimate Gallery in April 1926. Stieglitz championed Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and Georgia O'Keeffe, whose paintings and watercolors are included in this show. Demuth, along with Charles Sheeler, pioneered the precisionist style as exemplified in A Box of Tricks on view. The rich context of Demuth's era is revealed in the varied methods and means of expression used by modernist artists during the first decades of the 20th century.
(above: Charles Demuth, Daisies, 1932, watercolor and graphite on paper, 9 3/4 x 13 5/8 inches. The Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA. Photography John Herr. © 2007 The Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA)
(above: Charles Demuth, East King Street, Lancaster, 1908-10, watercolor on paper mounted on cardboard, 4 7/8 x 6 _ inches. The Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA. Photography John Herr. © 2007 The Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA)
(above: Charles Demuth, Lancaster County Courthouse, c. 1921, graphite on paper, 10 1/2 x 8 _ inches. The Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA. Photography John Herr. © 2007 The Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA)
(above: Charles Demuth, Portrait of a Fair-Haired Young Man, c. 1908, watercolor and ink on paper, 10 5/8 x 7 7/8 inches. The Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA. Photography John Herr. © 2007 The Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA)
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