Editor's note: The following text was reprinted in Resource Library on October 11, 2010 with permission of the New Britain Museum of American Art. It was authored in conjunction with the exhibition Reflections: The Collection of Dr. Timothy McLaughlin, on view at the Museum September 10 - October 24, 2010. If you have questions or comments regarding the text, please contact the New Britain Museum of American Art directly through this phone number or web address:
by Alexander J. Noelle
The collection of Dr. Timothy McLaughlin is a rich and varied treasure trove spanning the last two centuries of artistic development in the Connecticut region. Even though more than 150 years separate the earliest from most recent acquisitions, there is an inherent connection among the paintings, sculpture, and works on paper presented in this catalogue and exhibition. As Erica Hirshler points out in her introductory essay, the McLaughlin collection is laden with art that encourages -- and, in many cases, requires -- contemplation and meditation. Lacking intermediary figures that stand in for the viewer, one must approach and study each piece on an individual and even personal level. This subtle quality makes the collection a powerful tool for reflection as well as education.
It is clear that Dr. McLaughlin has found his own connection to each and every work he has acquired. Not only does he glean solace and tranquility through contemplation of the art that adorns the walls of his home, but he also has learned to appreciate the beauty of Connecticut through the eyes of some of its most celebrated, inventive, and nuanced artists. This view of our world is a mix of historical knowledge, artistic vision, and scholarly investigation. Inspired by the gems of enlightenment and perspective buried within the layers of pigment, Dr. McLaughlin has invited the nation's authorities to discover their own relationship with the works that comprise his collection. As you will see, the resulting dialogues led to a profusion of information and interpretation. The contributors bring to light details that give the viewer insight into the artists' psyches as well as information that helps us formulate our own connections to their creations.
Dr. McLaughlin's collection and collecting philosophy empower the visitor. Instead of putting together a collection that proclaims an overwhelming stance or thesis, Dr. McLaughlin has carefully selected pictures that call for interpretation. Each one reflects upon a tale, a mystery, or even just a particularly beautiful day in the Connecticut River Valley. In a sense, they are incomplete without someone to admire their details -- a sunset in the wilderness, horses gracefully roaming a field, a soft and moonlit night. They ask us to find a personal connection to the area we call home and provide us with the visual tools needed to do so.
By forging such personal connections between regional art and the viewer, the McLaughlin collection will become a repository of favored reflections. It is my hope that these reflections will inspire visitors to utilize this catalogue as an educational resource and to discover more about the artists whose works speak to them. Furthermore, I trust that they will, as has Dr. McLaughlin, use the perspectives of these artists as a means to see the natural beauty of Connecticut in their own way.
About the author
Alexander J. Noelle is Assistant Curator at the New Britain
Museum of American Art.
Resource Library editor's note:
The above Introduction was reprinted in Resource Library on October 11, 2010, with permission of the New Britain Museum of American Art, granted to TFAO on October 5, 2010. Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Alexander J. Noelle and Claudia Thesing of the New Britain Museum of American Art for their help concerning permissions for reprinting the text.
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