Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Richmond, VA

804 367-0844

http://www.vmfa.state.va.us


 

 

American Dreams: Paintings and Decorative Arts

from the Warner Collection

 

 

 

Daniel Garber (1880-1958)

Tanis (1915)

Copyright 1997 The Warner Collection of the Gulf States Paper Corporation,

photo by Katherine Wetzel

 

 

 

Jack Warner is living his American dream. As the CEO and chairman of the board of Gulf States Paper Corporation, Warner, who is now retired, helped transform the family paper-manufacturing business from its humble beginnings in 1884 into the widely diversified empire it is today. He also found time to assemble one of the few great collections of American art still in private hands.

A favorite painting of his -William Sidney Mount's "Any Fish Today?" (1857) - captures a young entrepreneur peddling his catch. "You know that the boy with the fish might very well by now be a leader ... having already shown his American enterprise and determination at an early age," Warner wrote in his memoir, "Thoughts of an Avid Art Collector."

 

 

William Merritt Chase (1849-1916)

Young Girl on Steamer (c. 1884)

Copyright 1997 The Warner Collection of the Gulf States Paper Corporation,

photo by Katherine Wetzel

 

 

Works from his collection, featured from Sept. 20, 1997 and continuing through January 25, 1998 in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts exhibition "American Dreams: Paintings and Decorative Arts from the Warner Collection," represent his belief in the classic American dreams of opportunity and integrity, according to Dr. David Park Curry, curator of Amencan arts at the Virginia Museum and organizer of the exhibition.

''Having access to the Warner Collection is a curator's dream," says Curry. "Jack Warner, with care and passion, has acquired not only high-quality but also very compelling works of art that speak to the American experience."

In showcasing the Warner Collection, the exhibition will explore themes of the proverbial American dream: land, freedom and abundance. "The show will also touch upon some of the complexities and contradictions of those ongoing quests," Curry says.

The collection includes a cornucopia of American artists, from Winslow Homer and James McNeill Whistler to Childe Hassam and Georgia O'Keeffe. Widely recognized paintings such as Thomas Cole's "Falls of Kaaterskill" (l826), Asher B. Durand's "Progress" (1853) and John Singer Sargent's "Capri" (1878) mix with less well known pieces.

Borrowed for the exhibition from where it is usually shown - in Warner's office at Gulf State's headquarters in Tuscaloosa, Ala. - "The Lost Greenhorn" (1851) by Alfred Jacob Miller depicts a stubborn chuck-wagon cook who ventured away from his cattle drive and got lost. Warner loves the painting not only for its subject matter - "I was always a cowboy at heart," he chuckles - but for its warning agamst rash decisions, either on the prairie or in the boardroom.

When asked to pick a favorite painting, Warner replies, "Why, that's terrible! They're like your children. You don't have any favorites."

So the Warner collection remains a study in contrasts. Robert Edge Pine's life portrait of George Washington (1785) joins "George Washington's Hatchet" (1890), an obscure piece by unknown artist P. McCallion. Edward Hopper's "Dawn Before Gettysburg" (c. 1934) depicts the anticipation of battle, while John Steuart Curry's "Return of Pvt. Davis"(1928-40) shows the flag-draped coffin that is the all-too-predictable aftermath of war.

The works in the exhibition range from life portraits of the founding fathers through dramatic vistas of the Hudson River School to romantic prospects of the American West. Still other canvases reveal intimate glimpses of life in the American home. The impressionists' gentle, rural scenes give way to robust experiments of early 20th-century realists and modernists who continue to explore and redefine the Amencan dream.

 

The exhibition - which presents nearly 100 works - will remain on view in Richmond through Jan. 25, 1998.


Additional images:

Text and six images are courtesy of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

TFAO also suggests these DVD or VHS videos:

American Dream: Jack Warner on Collecting American Art, An. This 30 minute video features American art collector Jack Warner on a tour of his favorite works of art in the Warner Collection of the Gulf States Paper Corporation and the David Warner Foundation. Notable examples include Winslow Homer's Noon Recess, John Singer Sargent's Capri, Thomas Cole's The Falls of Kaaterskill, and Asher B. Durand's Progress.

TFAO does not maintain a lending library of videos or sell videos. Click here for information on how to borrow or purchase copies of VHS videos and DVDs listed in TFAO's Videos -DVD/VHS, an authoritative guide to videos in VHS and DVD format

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