Heckscher Museum of Art
Huntington, Long Island, NY
Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection from the National Museum of American Art
November 21, 1998 -- January 31, 1999
Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Morning, 1950, oil on canvas, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Paintings by such famed American artists as Edward Hopper, Will Barnet, Isabel Bishop, Jacob Lawrence, Paul Cadmus, and Yasuo Kuniyoshi are among the works unveiled at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington on November 21, 1998. This showing of 60 paintings, sculptures and drawings, all realistic works produced during the 20th century, continues at the Heckscher through January 31, 1999.
Called Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection from the National Museum of American Art, the exhibition draws from the extraordinary collection amassed by Sara Roby (1907-86) and donated by her foundation to the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., the organizer of the exhibition.
An artist herself, Sara Roby recognized that being able to sell a painting represented the best type of encouragement to an artist. So she set out to purchase works by living artists, works which she immediately loaned to museums around the country.
Running counter to the 20th-century trend toward abstract expressionism, many of the works collected by Roby and the foundation she established in 1952, have been described as both realist and surrealist: realistic in the predominance of figurative art; and surrealist in the frequency with which psychologically-motivated themes are explored. The Roby Foundation was dedicated to purchasing works by living American artists and giving those works exposure through organized traveling shows.
A particular highlight of the show at the Heckscher is Cape Cod Morning, by Edward Hopper, an evocative 1950 painting of a woman peering at the new day through the windows of her Cape Cod home. Paul Cadmus' Night in Bologna, done in 1958, is a darker work in which a soldier staring at a woman probes existential thought typical of the 1950s. Also of widespread interest are Strong Woman and Child, a 1925 work by Yasuo Kuniyoshi; Dreams No. 2, a 1965 work by Jacob Lawrence; and Shovel Hats, a 1923 work by Guy Péne du Bois.
In connection with Modern American Realism, the Heckscher is sponsoring many discussions, workshops, concerts and other events for adults and children. Among the programs are the December 4 session of the adult art workshop series, Ways of Seeing; a December 5 concert, American Moods featuring pianist Laura Leon-Cohen and flutist Amy Ziegelbaum; a performance/discussion on January 7 called All The World's A Stage, focusing on the work of American playwright, Arthur Miller; a free Educator Workshop called Expressions of Modern America on January 13; a jazz concert, Mostly Gershwin, performed by violinist Charles Wizen and Jazz A Cordes on January 22; and several programs for children: two Tuesday after-school workshops on December 8 and 15, and a two-day puppet-making workshop on December 28 and 29.
For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
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