Thursday, July 20, 2017

Art Adventures Inspires Future Designers

Sage Kincaid, assistant curator of education, works with a YWCO group on a gallery tour during Art Adventures.

Every Wednesday and Thursday this summer, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., children came to the Georgia Museum of Art to get inspired by the work of designer Giò Ponti on a 90-minute journey to Italy. They were participating in Art Adventures, the museum’s annual free summer program. Art Adventures runs every June and July, encouraging focused engagement with works of art and a studio art activity that builds on children’s experiences in the galleries. Day camps, day cares and community centers take advantage of it, bringing about 600 elementary-school-aged children to the museum in the summer months.

Art Adventures has a different theme every year. This summer, informed by the exhibition “Modern Living: Giò Ponti and the 20th-Century Aesthetics of Design,” it focused on modern design and how we use design in our everyday lives. Children took an interactive tour of the exhibition, led by museum education staff and interns. Examples of gallery activities included looking for elements of art in Ponti’s designs, imagining how furniture functions in different settings and thinking about their own style by listening to examples of Italian music while learning about the work.

Art Adventurers design and create their tiles.
After the tour, kids created their own works of art, using their new knowledge of art and design. Thinking about the patterns and colors they saw in the exhibition for inspiration, they tried out different colors and shapes. and practiced using new art materials. Once they felt ready, they created colorful patterns on a ceramic tile using tissue paper and a clear glaze. Students cut and tore tissue paper and layered it to explore patterns, transparency and colors on the tile. When they finished, they each had a beautiful tile with a unique design.

An Art Adventurer with her finished tile.
“I’m always so inspired by kids’ creativity and their imagination.” said Sage Kincaid, the museum’s assistant curator of education. “Our goal for this program is to engage children with the exhibition and help them feel connected and interested in not just the works of art and the museum, but also their own and classmates’ reactions and thoughts about what they are seeing.”

Jinsui Li
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Spotlight on Studio Workshops: Q&A with Instructor Brian Hitselberger

This September, Athens-based artist and educator Brian Hitselberger will be leading "Studio Workshop: Drawing," a four-part studio-based course that introduces participants to contour, value, simplification and detail, drawing on-the-fly and more focused, detailed methods of mark-making. In advance of the course, Brian answered a few of our questions related to the workshop, art and artistic inspiration.

Artist and educator Brian Hitselberger.
1. What are some of your favorite works at the Georgia Museum of Art?

It's hard to choose. I have my old standbys – I always visit the Alice Neel portrait, the huge Joan Mitchell painting, and of course Radcliffe Bailey's exquisite assemblage, but the works-on-paper galleries generally have something exciting going on. On one of my most recent visits, I was totally mesmerized by the Michael Ellison show Urban Impressions. The density of his prints, the abstraction of every aspect of his complex compositions, and his incredible color sensibilities blew the top of my head off! I became an instant fan.

2. How does a visit to the museum inspire you as an artist?

Something that is so often glazed over in discussions about art or interviews with artists is the fact that a studio practice can be very isolating. I'm fortunate enough to live in a town full of committed makers and to work as a professor at a college teaching young artists. And yet, and yet....

… a visit to the Georgia Museum, or any museum for that matter, always reminds me that I am part of a lineage. That making things, thinking through ideas with material, or expressing oneself without words is a human endeavor: one that transcends not only identity, but time itself. It can help me return to my own studio with a greatly renewed sense of purpose. 

3. What are some of the pieces from the museum's collection that you have selected to use in the studio workshop "Abstraction", and why did you choose these?

Part of our workshop will focus on the series of studies that Elaine de Kooning made in her sketchbook of Greek and Roman statuary, which are held in the museum's archives. These small drawings lead up to the execution of her painting “Bacchus #81,” a painting which (in a sense) draws strength from these initial explorations in order to “play” on a larger scale. It's illuminating to see the drawings on which this painting was based, in that we are able to plot the workings of the artist’s mind directly. Additionally, I think seeing this series opens students to the notion that abstraction is a process, a way of thinking through a visual idea: it can be a tool. 

4. Is there something you are currently working on or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?

I'm working on show that will open this coming August at {Poem88} gallery in Atlanta. The show, titled “Counterspell,” brings together a group of my paintings with a large-format installation on one of the gallery's walls. The paintings are based off of textiles – quilts, specifically – and use collage as a way to “patch” other elements and meanings into their compositions. The wall piece will bring together drawings, found objects and ceramic sculpture with the work of seven other artists whose work I greatly admire. I'm using their small-scale pieces as elements in a large work of my own making. In this way, it's a kind of collaboration. The underlying theme of the show is a desire for safety and the various means we have available to us as artists to protect ourselves from fear. If you're interested in learning more, I actually put together a website for the project that can be seen here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/counterspell-poem88-painting/x/4191153.

5. What do you read, listen to, or look at to fuel your work?

This is always a challenging question to answer because the list could be so long and all over the place. I have a few "house gods," as I refer to them – artists whose work will always get my gears turning. Pierre Bonnard, James Whistler, Sheila Hicks and Felix Gonzales-Torres are some of my all-time favorites. But I also have rotating interests that become very important to me, depending on what kinds of projects I'm engaged in at the time. Right now I'm looking quite a bit at Gee's Bend quilts, Japanese Boro textiles, and a lot of found object sculpture. Later this summer, I hope to travel to Pasaquan, St. EOM's enormous outdoor installation in south Georgia, for some color inspiration. I also think I've played the new Slowdive and Perfume Genius records about ten thousand times in the studio this summer. 

6. What advice or words of wisdom have influenced you as an artist?

I think inspiration for new work comes most often out of the process of making itself. The last few years for me have been about allowing the unexpected events that happen in my studio to become the seedbeds for new projects. I also reflect a lot on the words of the great Patti Smith. To paraphrase: Don't worry about making things that are new. Focus on making things that are good.

"Studio Workshop: Drawing" will run Thursdays, September 7 through 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Artists from all backgrounds are encouraged to attend, as these museum sessions are designed to be equally engaging for enthusiastic beginners and seasoned practitioners alike. All sessions will use the museum’s collection as source material, including works not regularly on display. Participants will be introduced to brush and ink washes, ink pen, colored pencil and hard and soft graphite. The cost of the course is a $15 materials fee, which will cover all necessary supplies for the four sessions. Space is limited; call 706.542.8863 or email callan@uga.edu to register.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Giò Ponti's Functional Designs Anticipated the Tiny House Movement

Giò Ponti, hotel bedroom for the Ninth Triennale, Milan, 1951. Image: Giò Ponti Archives


If you’ve ever flipped through late night television, you might have come across the show “Tiny House, Big Living” on HGTV. In one episode, Trevor and Mary, a young couple from Dayton, Ohio, explores the multifaceted features of their new tiny home. The legs of a table double up as scratching posts for their cats, and a rope bridge made with their furry companions in mind runs from the couple’s shelving unit to the stairs. Lofted beds are placed towards the top of the home, barely an arms length away from the ceiling. Every part of the architecturally inventive house serves more than one purpose, the floorboards included. At the end of the episode, Trevor gets down on one knee as he procures a diamond ring from inside one of the stairs (which, of course, doubles as a storage unit) and proposes to his girlfriend Mary.

The Tiny House movement is, according to some, a social one. People are seriously downsizing for many different reasons: a desire to live simply, to go on more adventures, to make environmentally conscious decisions, and to cut down living costs. The average tiny house is 100 to 400 square feet — that is about 2,200 square feet smaller than the average American home. People like Mary and Trevor are getting on board with this trend and making drastic changes in the way they approach their living space. 

It could be argued that Giò Ponti’s interior designs are precursors to the Tiny House innovations of the 21st century. On view here at the Georgia Museum of Art until September 17, “Modern Living: Giò Ponti and the 20th-Century Aesthetics of Design” exhibits Ponti’s knack for creating sleek, functional designs that seem to expand space and transcend time. 

Image: HGTV.com
Ponti, like tiny house builders, understood the concept of less is more. His minimalistic designs are nonetheless as visually appealing as ornate antique furniture; in fact, his minimalism is what appeals to most people. The modern aesthetic of smooth lines, clean design and functionality resonates with homebuyers today. This might explain why the tiny house trend has flourished in the last few years. The appeal of Ponti’s work and tiny houses is like that of a multipurpose tool: countless functions in one object. 

Tiny house sensibilities manifest in pieces such as a coffee table he designed in 1937, made of burr-walnut-veneered wood, walnut, and glass. Perri Lee Roberts, author of the comprehensive essay found in the exhibition catalogue, writes of the piece that the “glass top serves an aesthetic purpose, creating a sense of relative weightlessness and helping blend the piece into its surrounding while providing a proper surface for the functional requirements of the table.” Not only does Ponti’s design of the table, with its smooth, transitional quality that could expand a space (potentially a very small space, such as in a tiny house), compare to the design tactics implemented by tiny house designers, Ponti also proved his resourcefulness by employing only Italian materials on this piece. 

Giò Ponti, coffee table, ca. 1937. Made by Giordano Cheese. Image: Wright

Another innovation that stands out as particularly apt — and this is a trend that carries into the design of many tiny houses — is Ponti’s “organized wall.” Exhibited in instances such as the hotel bedroom Ponti designed for the Ninth Triennale in 1951, this feature makes storage space integrated as well as aesthetic. For Ponti, shelves offered a way to merge interior and exterior spaces when placed flush against windows — a tactic that makes outside foliage or decor accessible and also creates fascinating shadows that transform depending on the time of day. Organized walls, and the pleasure they bring aesthetically as well as the additional storage space they offer, fit seamlessly into both Ponti’s designs and tiny house developments. 

Tile and chair designed by Giò Ponti.
Image: Daici Ano
Ponti’s affinity for striking elements is not limited to just furniture; in fact, some may argue that his most vibrant work is that of his ceramic tiles. These tiles, patterned with intricate motifs, create the illusion of space in an area that lacks just that. The blue and white tile shown right employs optical elements that shift the eye around the room, creating the sense of an enlarged area, while the colors echo the serenity of Santorini. Ponti was a master at making the most out of the space he was given, and were he alive today, he surely would be enthralled by the challenge of crafting a tiny house.

Roberts writes that Ponti wished to bring order to a chaotic world ravaged by WWI and that “the key to this sacred mission was the home, which Ponti saw as the epicenter of family life… His concept of the home encompassed more than its physical structure, extending to include interior design, furniture, furnishings, decorative objects, and art. Ponti regarded the design of furniture and decorative art as equivalent artistic undertakings to architectural design; whenever possible, he planned domestic and public spaces as integrated ensembles.” Ponti’s approach to design transcends both time and location, and his lasting impact on architecture and interior design becomes manifest especially when considering living arrangements such as the tiny house. The next time insomnia strikes, make HGTV your first stop on the train of late-night shows — see if you notice pieces reminiscent of Ponti and his innovations as the tiny house builders and owners look to make the most of their new small spaces. 

Sarah Dotson and Stephanie Motter
Communications Interns

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Athens Middle-Schoolers Interpret Art through Hip-Hop and More

If you visited the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia on a Tuesday afternoon this June, you might have heard someone rapping about women’s empowerment. The museum’s lobby can be quiet during the summer, when UGA’s enrollment is much lower than during the spring and fall semesters, but the middle-schoolers from Camp DIVE have been doing their best to fill it with life and noise.

Student work produced at the museum with Camp DIVE

Camp DIVE — which stands for discover, inquire, voice, and explore — provides local, underserved youth in Athens with a month-long free learning experience. This partnership among the Clarke County School District, the University of Georgia College of Education and the Athens-Clarke County community is meant to combat summer slide, or the tendency for students to lose progress made during the previous school year. Camp DIVE not only serves Athens youth, but also allows UGA students to engage with the community and gain hands-on experience working with children.

 The museum’s partnership with Camp DIVE has focused on art and poetry. About two dozen middle-school students enrolled in the camp visit the museum every Tuesday to make connections between visual art and creating their own literature. Associate professor Ruth Harman and assistant professor Kevin Burke, both in the UGA College of Education’s department of language and literacy education, have been working with museum educators and local poets to create an enriching experience for their young students. Burke’s graduate students in language and literacy have been working directly with the campers.

Student work produced at the museum with Camp DIVE


As the students and their instructors arrive at the museum, the lobby fills with happy voices. Half of them head to the galleries to draw inspiration from the works of art on display there while the others work on their projects. One group of students has created a rap about women and empowerment; another student has painted her own version of Everett Shinn’s early-20th-century painting of a ballerina.

Student work produced at the museum with Camp DIVE
The museum’s curator of education, Carissa DiCindio, said, “We hope that the middle school students are inspired by the works of art and make connections to their lives through art making and poetry. We want them to feel at home in the museum.”

Mariah Parker, a graduate student in UGA’s linguistics program who both studies and performs hip hop (under the name Lingua Franca), also emphasized how important the program is with making students comfortable in the museum, saying, “This is a casual introduction to a space that can be very intimidating.”

The program is supported by the Aralee Strange Fund for Art and Poetry endowment, created by Kathy Prescott and Grady Thrasher, longtime residents of Athens who are both actively involved in their community. Most recently, they helped make the documentary film “Athens in Our Lifetimes,” which covers the city’s evolution over six decades. To honor their friend Aralee Strange, they provided the endowment to fund the Art and Poetry project to cultivate an appreciation for the arts in Athens youth.

Aralee Strange was no stranger to the arts. She was an illustrious poet, filmmaker and playwright who moved to Athens in 2007 after developing her career in New York and Cincinnati. Strange founded the monthly open poetry forum Word of Mouth, which welcomed local Athenians and strangers alike to participate in a night of poetic prose. Strange died in 2013 at the age of 69.

The idea behind the project is that its students will create poetry, performance and visual art that reflects their community and investigates connections among these art forms. It also serves as an experiential-learning initiative for UGA students, connecting them with the Athens community and letting them see how art fosters literary development and civic engagement in youth.

The campers will present and display their work at the museum tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. at a reception that is free and open to the public.

Stephanie Motter
Communications Intern

Thursday, June 22, 2017

From the Publications Office: Art of the Press Check

Spreads from "Black Belt Color: Photographs by Jerry Siegel" at press check with Friesens, Canada.

In an ever more digital age, fewer and fewer people understand the printing process and how, exactly, it works. Press checks — where a representative from a publisher tweaks and approves every page in a book coming off a printing press — are less common than they used to be, but for color-critical publications (like exhibition catalogues) they can make a big difference. I traveled all the way up to Altona, Manitoba, Canada, recently to do a press check at Friesens, a printer that the museum has used for years. Friesens prints a lot of art books, but the Georgia Museum of Art’s latest publication, “Black Belt Color: Photographs by Jerry Siegel,” needed some special care.


Most people don’t realize that, even when you get proofs from a printer, those pages aren’t always produced on the same machine that will print the final job. Soft proofing, or proofing on a computer screen only, isn’t recommended for color-critical publications. “Wet proofs,” which do come off the actual press, are less common and much more expensive. Even then, printing is as much an art as a science. Friesens has a color profile that graphic designers apply both to individual images and to the final files for a book, which, in theory, tells the computers that run the press exactly how to match the intended color. But specific papers, even white ones, can have a slightly different tone—one that’s a little more blue or more red—and those tiny differences can affect the final result. The Epson proofs that the publisher typically receives to check color try to match the effects of paper tone, but they’re run on what is essentially a big, fancy inkjet printer.

The big four-color press, on the other hand, stretches the length of a room, with, in the simplest cases, one plate each for cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink (watch this one-minute video to see how it works). Together, those four colors can produce a big section of the visible spectrum, but they can’t capture everything, and sometimes tinkering is necessary on press to match the Epson proofs to the client’s satisfaction.


It’s more complicated than just getting a single image right, though. Books are printed in signatures, or chunks of pages divisible by four, and “Black Belt Color: Photographs by Jerry Siegel” was printed in 16-page signatures, meaning usually groups of 16 images at a time. The larger the signature, the more financially efficient a book can be to print because it means fewer sheets run through the press.

Cyan, magenta, yellow and black can be tweaked from levels of 0 to 100 in columns that run the vertical length of the large sheet of paper. At the same time, too much ink on the page will look muddy, not accurate and it won’t dry, either. If one image out of 16 has sections that seem to have too much red, you can’t just reduce the magenta for the entire press sheet, or other images may be negatively affected. Getting every image on the sheet to reproduce as accurately as possible can require creative thinking as well as a good eye for color and a knowledge of how the process works.

Hillary Brown
Director of Communications

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Avocation to Vocation: Prints by F. Townsend Morgan

F. Townsend Morgan, Untitled (harbor scene), n.d., etching on paper
The exhibition “Avocation to Vocation: Prints by F. Townsend Morgan,” curated by independent scholar Stephen Goldfarb, begins this Saturday, June 17, and will be on view through Sunday, September 10. The exhibition highlights the work of F. Townsend Morgan, who created many prints of the places he lived in and the objects around him. Forty prints of sailboats, architecture and natural beauty will be on display.

Morgan F. Townsend and family in Key West, Florida. ca 1940.
Image: State Archives of Florida
F. Townsend Morgan grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and studied at the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League. The title of the exhibition comes from a writing of Morgan’s, who wrote that he pursued art as an avocation—or hobby— which eventually turned into employment. He developed his style while living in Pennsylvania with Joseph Pennell, a fellow artist and friend of famed artist James McNeill Whistler. After the Great Depression, Morgan focused on perfecting his craft and turning it into a career to support his family. He found work in New Deal art programs for several years; Morgan moved to Key West through a Federal Relief Agency and worked as director of the Key West Community Art Center in 1941. Morgan eventually moved to Annapolis, Maryland, and received the post of artist-in-residence at St. John’s College from 1948 through 1950.

Morgan’s prints focused on the architecture and nature of the many places he lived and visited including Maryland, Orlando, and Louisville. He especially enjoyed making prints of sailboats, which particularly caught the eye of Goldfarb, who said, “Morgan’s boats are in a tradition that, at least to my eye, goes back to Turner by way of Joseph Pennell and Whistler. I particularly like the dark ships against the water and atmosphere, which is rendered with very little ink, so the original color of the paper shows through. A sort of ‘less-is-more’ aesthetic.”

F. Townsend Morgan, "Covered Bridge," n.d., etching on cream paper

Morgan achieved many accomplishments in his life; he was chosen to make the stamp for the tercentenary celebration of Annapolis and he won several awards for his prints. His works can be seen today in collections at the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress and the Treasury Department of the United States. He had several exhibitions during his life, but “Avocation to Vocation: Prints by F. Townsend Morgan” is the first exhibition to focus entirely on his work since his death. Goldfarb hopes that this exhibition teaches visitors that many artists of the past deserve to be remembered and that they are a part of history. Goldfarb said, “Many of the artists that I am interested in did not join the movement to abstraction and other modernist movements after World War II and for that reason have been, like Morgan, all but forgotten by art historians, as well as the collecting public. Exhibitions like this one could reverse that trend.”

Programs related to the exhibition of Morgan’s work include a film series focusing on Key West (“Reap the Wild Wind,” “Key Largo” and “Matinee”), starting June 22; 90 Carlton: Summer, the museum’s quarterly reception (free for members of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art, $5 for nonmembers) on July 28 at 5:30 p.m.; and public tours on August 23 at 2 p.m. and September 10 at 3 p.m. All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise indicated.

Stephanie Motter
Communications Intern

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Modern Living: Giò Ponti and the 20th-Century Aesthetics of Design

“Modern Living: Giò Ponti and the 20th-Century Aesthetics of Design” opens this Saturday, June 10, and will be on view through Sunday, September 17th. The exhibition focuses on furniture and decorative objects by Giò Ponti, an Italian designer and architect, whose iconic career spanned almost 60 years. The Georgia Museum of Art has also published an accompanying full-color catalogue written by curator Perri Lee Roberts, available now at the Museum Shop.

Giò Ponti, chest of drawers, ca. 1955
Ponti’s work combines traditional and modern techniques and materials, a rarity in Italian design at the time. He promoted new concepts of modern living and influenced the public’s ideals on design by exposing them to works from the United States and Europe as well as his own works. Ponti aimed to modernize the Italian manufacturing process and promote the artistic design of industrial products. This artistic design can be found in a plethora of Ponti’s creations, from ceramics, to glassware, and even a coffee pot he designed.

Giò Ponti and Piero Fornasetti, Madrepore table and four armchairs, ca. 1950
Ponti’s attention to detail and design can be seen in his and Piero Fornasetti’s design  known as the Madrepore dining suite. The “dining suite” consists of four beautifully crafted chairs and a large, bowl-shaped table. The entire set is a captivating robin egg blue; the table is made of a lithograph transfer-print and lacquered wood, brass, glass and silk. The lithograph print is of stony coral (madrepore in Italian) and covers the top, sides and legs of the table. The top of the table mimics a tide pool with its concave base covered by a piece of glass, as if while sitting at the table, you were given a secret glimpse of a tide pool full of the fauna of the ocean. This attention to detail is what makes Ponti’s work so intriguing and influential.

Exhibition catalogue available
now at the Museum Shop.
“The most resistant element is not wood, is not stone, is not steel, is not glass. The most resistant element in building is art. Let’s make something very beautiful.”

Ponti’s influence is still prevalent today. In Milan, his Pirelli skyscraper stands tall among classical and modern structures. His Via Dezza chair, created for his own home, is still produced by Molteni & C, an Italian furniture company. Retailers are mass-producing silverware sets with his design. The combination of art and design is what makes Ponti’s works so relevant. Ponti said, “The most resistant element is not wood, is not stone, is not steel, is not glass. The most resistant element in building is art. Let’s make something very beautiful.” Ponti’s works are timeless and elegant, sleek and practical; they combine the beauty of art with the stability of architecture and furniture. It’s no wonder Giò Ponti is known as the father of modern Italian design.

Stephanie Motter
Communications Intern

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Ed Tant Retires After Seventeen Years

Walk into the Georgia Museum of Art any day and you will see a security guard with long, white hair. This man, Ed Tant, is well known by visitors and staff alike for his wry humor and dedication to his job. He has become almost a permanent fixture at the museum, so many people are surprised to hear of his upcoming retirement. We are extremely thankful for his time here and will miss him greatly. Be sure to stop by and say hello to Ed before he retires on Thursday, June 22! We met with Ed to discuss his time here and hear what advice he had to share.

Ed in the Byrnece Purcell Knox Swanson Gallery.
Clockwise from top, the works behind him are by Ben Shahn,
Paul Cadmus and Jacob Lawrence. Image: Stephanie Motter
How many years have you been working here?

Almost 17. I started in August 2000.

What did you do before you joined the museum?

I worked for eight years at Book Peddlers [a bookstore located here in Athens].

What have you learned after being a security guard at a museum? 

I’ve learned that my job is to protect art from art lovers. Most people don’t mean any harm, but they forget how sensitive art is and get too close or touch the works.

How is working security at a museum different than other places? 

If you work museum security it’s easier, other places have to deal with other problems like shoplifting. I like the peace and quiet of the museum, it’s calming.

What is your favorite memory from the museum? 

The kids on Family Day are fun to see enjoying the museum, and I enjoy meeting the artists. I’ve been in Athens since 1972, and I visited the museum back then. It’s been interesting to see the change of location and extension of the museum. I miss the north campus location, but I like that this museum is bigger and shows off more works of art.

What is a normal day like at the museum?

There is no normal day; expect the unexpected, predict the unpredictable. Some days you think it will be slower than others and then, out of nowhere, a bus full of people will pull up to the museum.

Security staff photo. Ed Tant (front, center right) is retiring
after 17 years at  the museum. Image: Michael Lachowski

Has working in a museum given you a greater appreciation for art?

I’ve always appreciated and been interested in art. I enjoy listening to the tours and learning more about the works; learning things you may not see at first glance.

What’s something you want people to know about security guards? 

We are here to protect the art. We really don’t want people to touch works because we want works that have survived hundred of years to be enjoyed by people for another hundred years. I believe everybody should work in museum security at some point in their lives; to walk a mile in our shoes. 

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen while working here? 

Art never quits; when you think you’ve seen it all, something new comes up. It’s also cool to see people come in uninterested but then find something they like. We’ve got something for everybody.

What do you plan on doing after retiring?

I don’t have much planned. I’ve never missed a day of work in 25 years, so I’ll enjoy relaxing for a change. I do plan on coming back and visiting the museum, but only as a guest.

What’s the biggest misconception about your job?

People think security guards are mean; people disparage security guards. We are trying to protect the art and preserve it for future generations. Security guards are more important than people think; a security guard discovered Watergate [a major political scandal during the Nixon era]. We really enjoy what we do.

What advice do you have for museum visitors? 

Do not touch the works or stand so close, and take time to enjoy the museum.




Interview by Stephanie Motter, Communications Intern


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Highlights from the Permanent Collection: “White House — Summer” by Maurice Prendergast

As summer comes upon us, we highlight “White House  — Summer” by Maurice Brazil Prendergast. Born in Canada and raised in Boston, Prendergast was greatly influenced as an artist by French Impressionism, Paul Cézanne, the decorative patterns of the French post-Impressionist Nabis and Fauvism. Prendergast studied at the Académie Julian and at the Académie Colarossi in Paris during the early 1890s. In 1898, he traveled to Italy, visiting Siena, Florence, Rome, Capri, and Venice. In 1908, he participated in the exhibition of the Eight at Macbeth Gallery in New York — a display of eight “independent” artists organized by Robert Henri following his dismissal from the National Academy of Design. Prendergast served on the organizing committee of the Armory Show of 1913, and seven of his paintings appeared in the exhibition, which introduced Futurism, Fauvism, and Cubism to a mass U.S. audience. Prendergast’s works are in the collections of many major institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Maurice Prendergast, White House – Summer, ca. 1910–13
Like many of Prendergast’s large oil paintings and watercolors dating after 1910, “White House — Summer” depicts leisure in a modern and idyllic New England landscape populated by young women. In the immediate foreground, two females adorned in green and yellow converse with each other while a third woman, in pink, reads while strolling. Prendergast communicates the vibrancy of the day and the lush vegetation of midsummer through rich, broad brushstrokes in various shades of green. Billowy pink and white clouds fill the azure sky. In “White House — Summer,” Prendergast juxtaposes “old” New England with the industrialization of the region by visually linking a vertical cypress with a factory smokestack in the distance.

Artist and critic Walter Pach, Prendergast’s friend and a supporter of American modernism, published a tribute to the artist in 1922: “When he comes nearest to creating a new world in his joyous fancy of a summer all of light — clear and radiant. His picture is real for us and consonant with our experience: a thing in harmony with the law that we are conscious of in all art, even though we are never able to formulate it.”

Adapted from “One Hundred American Paintings” by Paul Manoguerra

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Martin Johnson Heade and Cherokee Roses

Beginning June 3, the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia will present the exhibition “The Genius of Martin Johnson Heade,” organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Although the exhibition includes landscapes, seascapes and Heade’s trademark paintings of tropical birds and flowers, it does not include any of his Cherokee Rose images. The Cherokee Rose (Rosa laevigata) is the state flower of Georgia.

To remedy this situation, Mrs. Deen Day Sanders, a noted art collector, gardener, philanthropist and Georgian, has agreed to lend Heade’s painting of two Cherokee Roses to the museum, along with four other works by Heade. Mrs. Sanders’ paintings will make up a small supplementary exhibition, on view the same dates as “The Genius of Martin Johnson Heade.”

Martin Johnson Heade, Cherokee Roses, n.d.
Nearly forgotten for the first part of the 20th century, Heade’s paintings were rediscovered around World War II and Heade is now recognized as one of the most important American painters of the 19th century. His works are in the collections of many major museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which has the largest public collection of Heade’s paintings.

Botanical illustration of the 
Cherokee Rose engraved by 
Pierre Joseph Redouté (1759–1840).
Image: New York Public 
Library Digital Collections 
Heade devoted equal time to landscape, marine and still-life subjects, but is best known for his studies of tropical birds and flowers. He began painting still lifes of flowers native to the southeastern United States when he moved to Florida, in 1884. Heade’s paintings of magnolias (two of which are included in the MFA Boston’s exhibition) date from the same era.

T.E. Stebbins, author of the catalogue raisonné on Heade, writes, “These paintings of Cherokee Roses . . . have a lushness and an aggressive confidence that far surpass [Heade’s] accomplishment in landscape during the same years and are more successful than those of northern roses in the same setting.”

Mrs. Sanders will also lend Heade’s paintings “Apple Blossoms,” “The Meadow,” “Still Life with Glass of Roses” and “A Red Rose” from her collection.

Sarah Kate Gillespie, the museum’s curator of American art, said, “The loan of these important works from Mrs. Sanders beautifully augments the pieces in the MFA Boston’s exhibition, as they feature Heade’s other well-known floral subjects: the rose and the apple blossom. The rose in particular was a significant subject for Heade, as he painted both the red rose and the Cherokee Rose more than any other American artist in the 19th century, and we are thrilled to be able to share these works, as well as the meticulously rendered landscape, with our visitors.”

Hillary Brown
Director of Communications