Travelling Exhibition: From June 26-August 14, 2010 American Works on Paper, 1800–Present will be held at the Arno Maris Gallery, Ely Hall, Westfield, Massachusetts, as part of the Masters Festival of the Arts. This eight-week summer festival will include exhibitions as well as lectures, theater productions, and concerts. Kenneth M. Lemanski, vice president of the college, states that the festival represents a “continuation of the college’s commitment to the revitalization of Westfield downtown with a multi-faceted arts program both in the downtown and on our campus.” The exhibition will consist of over 30 works from the original show held April 1-May 1, 2010 at Spanierman Gallery, LLC. Please call or email for details - 212-832-0208 - email@example.com
Spanierman Gallery, LLC, is pleased to announce the opening on April 1, 2010 of Works on Paper, 1800-Present. Consisting of over ninety works, this exhibition conveys the diversity of American art over the course of more than two hundred years. Among the selections are works by Thomas Hart Benton, Albert Bricher, J. G. Brown, Alexander Calder, George Catlin, Jasper Cropsey, John Steuart Curry, Arthur B. Davies, Burgoyne Diller, Arthur Wesley Dow, George Grosz, Philip Leslie Hale, Martin Johnson Heade, Robert Henri, Daniel Huntington, Charles Bird King, George Luks, Reginald Marsh, Edward Potthast, William Trost Richards, Norman Rockwell, Edmund Tarbell, John Henry Twachtman, Andrew Wyeth, William Zorach, and many others. A catalogue accompanying the exhibition includes color illustrations of all of the images.
Sometimes considered to take second place to paintings, works on paper often have the upper hand. Whereas artists at times create oils to make statements or to grab the attention of buyers or exhibition-goers, they frequently enjoy a greater freedom and creativity when working on paper. Deriving inspiration from the distinctive properties of graphite, charcoal, pastel, watercolor, and other formats, their images—as many of the examples in this exhibition reveal—seem naturally to arise from their mediums and materials or vice versa. In The Yellow Path (ca. 1955) Jan Müller used the fresh color of pastels and their pliant texture to express the exuberance of a landscape in which natural forms blend into the allover scheme. A combination of graphite and gouache facilitate the high degree of precision and atmospheric subtlety in Peter Moran’s Old Talmadge Farm (Georgica, East Hampton, Long Island) (1886). The sparkling translucency of watercolor underscored the flamboyance of flowers and light in Dodge Macknight’s Gardening (1910s-20s). In Storm over Taos (1930s) Emil Bisttram used the versatility of watercolor—its stark contrasts and tonal washes—to create a dramatic effect. The blending of pastel to produce atmospheric nuances facilitated Glen Cooper Henshaw’s nocturnal image (ca. 1920s-30s), looking toward New York’s Metropolitan Life Building.
Due to their usually lower price level, works on paper are often locked away or emerge from obscurity, their stories lost or forgotten. Many of the images in this exhibition tell tales that draw us in and wait for their secrets to be known. Rendered during a trip to South America that he made on the commission of the gun merchant Samuel Colt, George Catlin’s Jaguar Hunting in Brazil (1852) is thought to feature the artist himself, his gun in hand as he paddles toward a shore where a wounded jaguar is watched over by its mate, the scene’s narrative left unexplained. In Safely Landed (1873), Albert Fitch Bellows features a well-dressed young woman of the Victorian era who saves a nest that has fallen in a stream, the countryside setting and the sentiment of the subject evoking nostalgia for simple, bygone days. Rendered with a painstaking handling of graphite and charcoal (sharpened with a razor blade), Lilian Westcott Hale’s Polish Princess (1900-10) is aristocratic, yet wears a mystifyingly humble and melancholy expression. On a piece of printed stationery labeled “Ogunquit, Me,” Edward Potthast sketched in a scene of figures on the beach, revealing the way that such views of urban-goers actively indulging in the leisure life compelled the artist to draw them. Walter Greaves, James McNeill Whistler’s studio assistant, pupil, and close friend, is represented by a portrait of his mentor (ca. 1871) in a drawing in charcoal and graphite. Greaves captures the monocled Whistler squinting skeptically, perhaps in retort to Greaves, whom Whistler would later abandon for a more sophisticated circle of friends.
Several artists used works on paper to capture slices of life, as may be seen in Thomas Hart Benton’s “Abe nosed the flatboat toward the shore,” created for a book he illustrated about Abraham Lincoln of 1953, James Daugherty’s Hester Street, October 26, 1933 (1933), which conveys the congested nature of New York’s Lower East Side through his subject and composition, and Robert Henri’s Normandy Market (1902), a softly rendered blend of figures, street, and buildings.
In a number of abstract works, the medium is the subject. A precise use of gouache and ink afforded the sense of balance achieved by Rolf Scarlett in his asymmetrical arrangement of crisp geometric shapes in Composition with Blue Circle (1940s). Similarly Burgoyne Diller combines movement and stability in the overlapping linear circles and angles in Composition (ca. 1934).
Even if they are inconspicuous or quickly rendered, the works in this exhibition number among the finest by the artists who created them. We are glad they have weathered the ages to enable us to discover them anew.