Thursday, November 29, 2012

Minna Citron at GMOA


It’s the week after Thanksgiving and I’m sure we’re all either still full of turkey and sweet potato soufflé or getting geared up for the big winter break. But before we kick back and relax on the couch with movie marathons, the Georgia Museum of Art has one more exhibition starting before the holidays. “Minna Citron: The Uncharted Course from Realism to Abstraction” will open on Dec. 8 and run until March 3, 2013.
      The exhibition will showcase roughly 50 of Citron’s award-winning social realist and abstract paintings and sculptures, picked from her 60 years as an artist. The art is on loan from her granddaughter, Christiane H. Citron, and has traveled from museums in Texas, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
      Minna Citron attended the Art Students League of New York in 1928, and it was during her time there that she created her iconic genre scenes of Union Square and became a member of the 14th Street School. Citron associated with artists such as Isabel Bishop, a renowned graphic artist, and Reginald Marsh, most notable for his paintings of New York City, Coney Island and vaudeville in the 1920s and 1930s.
     Citron’s work initially started out as realist, depicting fine details in the clothes and faces of her subjects. These early works focused more on the roles of women in her satirical style, and during World War II she traveled across the country for the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Program, producing some of her iconic prints based on the women who joined the U.S. Navy. After the war, she moved onto the abstract, strongly emphasizing dynamic shapes that stood out from their backgrounds. During this time she traveled to France to learn new techniques in color printing, which she brought back to the United States. From the 1950s to the 1970s, Citron experimented with collages and other aspects of three-dimensional art, even developing methods for 3D printmaking and assembly. 

Minna Citron
Cold Comfort
Minna Citron
Untitled
      Many of Citron's works hang in prestigious museums, including the Teller Gallery in New York, and GMOA owns a small abstract oil by her that hangs in its permanent collection galleries. The exhibition was organized by Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., along with Christiane Citron, and is sponsored locally by the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art. Paul Manoguerra, our chief curator and curator of American art, will serve as the in-house curator for the exhibition and will lead a tour of it Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 2 p.m. We would be thrilled to see you before and during the holidays when the exhibition opens.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Georgia O'Keeffe!

Georgia O'Keeffe, hands 1918
Photo by Alfred Stieglitz

Today we celebrate the birth of one of the most influential and well-known female artists of the 20th century. Born in 1887 in Sun Prairie, Wisc., O’Keeffe was the second of seven children born to a pair of dairy farmers. Her maternal grandfather and namesake, George Victor Totto, was a Hungarian count who immigrated to the United States in 1848.  Known today for her intense and vibrant paintings, O’Keeffe made the decision to become an artist at the wise age of 10, and, along with her sister, received her first instruction from watercolorist Sara Mann.
When the O’Keeffe family moved to Williamsburg, Va., in 1902, Georgia remained in Wisconsin with her aunt to attend school before making the move to join her family in 1903. After graduating from high school in 1905, O’Keeffe went to study at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago until 1906. From there she enrolled in the Art Students League in New York City, where she happened to study under William Merritt Chase. In 1908 she won a still-life prize named for Chase at the League for one of her oil paintings.
That same year, after attending an exhibition of Auguste Rodin’s watercolors at Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 gallery, O’Keeffe gave up the idea of being a professional artist, believing that she could never distinguish herself from the painters from whom she had learned. She did not paint again for four years.
In 1912, O’Keeffe attended a class at the University of Virginia Summer School, where she was introduced to the innovative ideas and techniques of Arthur Wesley Dow, who was best known for teaching that instead of copying nature, art should focus on the elements of the composition, such as line, mass and color. These ideas inspired O’Keeffe to pick up her brush once more and she ended up teaching art in public schools in Amarillo, Tex., from 1912 to 1914. She still took classes from Dow, who helped shape her thought-process as she painted. After teaching at Columbia University in South Carolina until 1916, O’Keeffe took the job as head of the art department at still young West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Tex., where she stayed until 1918. During that time she made multiple expeditions into the Palo Duro Canyon, using the rock formations as subjects in many of her works.
It was in 1916 that O’Keeffe’s work made an impact on the New York art community. Anita Pollitzer, a photographer and friend of O’Keeffe’s from Columbia University, mailed a few of O’Keeffe’s charcoal drawings to Stieglitz, not only a gallery owner but a photographer (and O’Keeffe’s future husband). Stieglitz told Pollitzer that the drawings were the “purest, finest, sincerest things that had entered 291 in a long while.” In April of that year, he exhibited 10 of her drawings, surprising O’Keeffe. When she confronted him, she agreed to let them remain on display. This catalyst began their partnership. Stieglitz went on to organize nearly all of O’Keeffe’s exhibitions, starting with her first solo show, in 1917, at 291, which included her paintings and watercolors from her time in Texas.
Stieglitz and O’Keeffe kept in constant contact over the years, and in 1918, O’Keeffe agreed to move to New York to devote her time to her art. The two began to fall in love and moved in together, even though Stieglitz was already married and 23 years older. In 1924, his divorce was approved and he married O’Keeffe within four months. It was with Stieglitz’s aid that O’Keeffe’s work gained further fame and commanded higher and higher prices.
O’Keeffe’s notable New Mexico phase did not begin until the late 1920s. Before then she had been working in the New York area, but she had felt the increasing need for a new source of inspiration, and traveled to Santa Fe. She took multiple trips into the desert, painting her iconic scenes with vivid colors. In late 1932, she suffered a nervous breakdown partly because she was falling behind schedule on a mural project. O’Keeffe did not paint again until 1934, after recuperating in Bermuda. She returned to New Mexico, leaving Stieglitz to work (he also had an affair with the photographer Dorothy Norman) in New York.
O’Keeffe continued to work exclusively from New Mexico, buying homes there, including an abandoned hacienda in Abiquiu, until 1946, when Stieglitz died. She spent three years settling his affairs in New York before moving permanently to New Mexico. She worked primarily from her Abiquiu house, making its architectural elements subjects of her work.
In 1962, O’Keeffe became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and four years later she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She continued to have exhibitions, and her work remained a prominent force in the public eye. In 1977, President Gerald Ford presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor awarded to American citizens, and in 1985, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
O’Keeffe became increasingly frail in her late 90s, and her eyesight began to deteriorate. She moved to Santa Fe in 1984, and in 1986, on March 6, she died at the age of 98. O’Keeffe was cremated in accordance with her will, and her ashes were scattered on the winds atop Pedernal Mountain, over what she called her “beloved faraway.”

Georgia O'Keeffe
Red Barn, Lake George, New York, 1921
O'Keeffe's legacy lives on today, her work being her most influential impact on the arts. The museum in Santa Fe devoted to her paintings, drawings and pottery, coincidentally designed by the same architects as the Georgia Museum of Art's renovation and expansion project, celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. In the sciences, a fossilized species of archosaur (an ancient relative of today's crocodiles) was named after her as Effigia okeeffeae (meaning "O'Keeffe's ghost"). Collections of her paintings hang in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art and in the Georgia Museum of Art. If you'd like to have a look at some of O'Keeffe's influential work, especially on her birthday, we would love to see you in the museum!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

A Separate Vision

Video by Kathryn Kao
            Vision can be many things. It can be a gift, a science, an image or a distant dream.
            But for Jonathan Jacquet, a professional artist, a security supervisor at the Georgia Museum of Art and a soon-to-be-nurse, vision is an obsession. His paintings and sculptures cling to a fading age of Romanticism that often borders on the grotesque. As an artist, he is heavily influenced by a childhood accident that left him blind in one eye, and on many levels, viewing his works is like reading an intimate autobiography. He is enthralled by how the brain and eye function together to read depth and proportion. In fact, most of his works of art examine the science of neurobiology to explain the physiological processes that occur while a person is drawing. For some people, this may be a dense and complicated subject matter, but for Jacquet, it is his life.
            He is a great admirer of scientists like Margaret Livingstone and Nobel Prize winner Ruth Hubbard for their investigations of how the eye functions. Jacquet humbly explains that Livingston’s article on Dutch painter and etcher Rembrandt might explain why he has a natural ability to replicate visual objects from life onto a two-dimensional plane. “There has been a lot of science and biology that’s fed into the understanding of vision and how the mind processes vision,” says Jacquet. “Just how you hold a pencil, that tactile feel, how the touch is and the amount of brain space dedicated to the hand is miniscule compared to the amount of brain space dedicated to the retina.”
             His stereo blindness, or inability to see depth, is a visual experience that is often represented as a ring or halo in his paintings. In a nut shell, his art depicts what an eye sees. If a person shuts one eye, he or she sees a round, oval shape that defines the perimeter of his or her vision. This ring, representing Jacquet’s unique field of vision, is often depicted in sketches with his nose at the bottom left corner and his eyebrow peeking over the top. Additionally, the anatomy of the retina is built in concentric rings that he believes students can use as a tool to perceive angles, horizons and values. Although this takes a bit of awareness on the artist’s part, the ring in the center of Jacquet’s vision makes reading proportions a great deal easier. “The amount of brain space dedicated to perceiving vision is phenomenal,” says Jacquet. “A student that could train themselves to become more aware of the retina as a tool would greatly aid them in drawing.” 
            To Jacquet, the retina is just as important as the hand, if not more. “Sight is a wonderful gift that is easily lost,” he says, gazing out the window at a clear sky. “Just being able to see currently, I greatly appreciate it.”
*          *          *
            Born on February 13, 1975, Jacquet was only 5-years-old when he stabbed his left eye. “I was carving a piece of wood with scissors my mom took away,” says Jacquet sheepishly. “But I kept sneaking the scissors and carving to make a little knife.” To cut the tape, Jacquet put the end of the roll in his mouth and started poking it with scissors, when he lost his grip and accidentally stabbed his eye. “I don’t remember it hurting. I do remember walking into the living room and being like, ‘Mom, am I going to be blind?’ and she said, ‘Yes, Jon, I think you probably will be.’”
            He was flown to Minneapolis, Minn., where doctors removed the lens over his left eye. But less than a year later, he suffered a retinal detachment that required doctors to wrap a sclera band around his eye. “I actually found out just recently that they should have removed it at around age 12, so my eye could have grown some,” he says. “But my eye is the same size as it was when I was 5-years-old because of the restriction by the sclera band. So there’s actually a rubber band around my eye, but it’s a piece of silicone.” Jacquet is frank about wanting a fake eye one day. “If I saved enough money, but it’s $3,000.”
           Jacquet’s earliest memory is of his first house in Marion County, Fla. He remembers the cows in his backyard, two geese, a fig tree and his dog named Blue. His parents, Leon and Melanie, met at a Bible college and moved the family, which included Jacquet’s brother Emmanuel and sister Star, across the country. The family traveled from Florida to North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, back to Florida and then to Idaho, where they lived on a dairy farm for two years. When his family moved back to Florida from Wyoming, they lived on his grandfather’s front porch for six months.  Jacquet slept under a desk. “I think those were some of my favorite memories,” says Jacquet. “When I think about it, I’m like ‘Wow, we must have been really poor.’”
            While he was attending elementary school, his father moved the family to Cambridge, Idaho to find work. Two years later, Jacquet moved back to Florida, living in a tent for two to three months as the family traveled from Idaho. Along the way, Jacquet helped his father move water lines in fields and load up trucks with hay for money. “It was fun. We got to see birds and be outside all the time doing stuff,” he says. “We were just like migrant labor.”
*          *          *
            A romantic appreciation of sculpture and wood carving runs through Jacquet’s bloodline. His grandfather was a Swedish wood carver and cabinet maker, and his paternal relatives were glassblowers. Jacquet believes this hierarchical perception of art perpetuates within him, often hampering his professional goals. Nevertheless, the classically trained artist couldn’t care less about using an outmoded medium. “It’s what I like to do,” he says simply. “There are people that do what I want to do better, but I’m where I’m at.”
            He holds an intense affinity with major European artists and sculptors of the 16th and 17th centuries. Much of this appreciation stems from the depth of vision he experiences while standing in front of older paintings. Italian artist Caravaggio and Flemish Renaissance painter and printmaker Pieter Bruegel are some of Jacquet’s favorite artists. Their technique of layering transparent paint over opaque colors allows him to see a degree of depth despite his stereo blindness. His romantic fascination with wood sculptures—a medium he’s struggled to make time for in the past decade—is inspired by German sculptor and woodcarver Tilman Riemenschneider. “His work method was primarily facilitating a team of carvers to make a cohesive work of art and not carving solely as one individual,” says Jacquet. “It’s beautiful to me because it goes against the narrative of the isolated artist.”
            Jacquet is a history junkie, naming the English Reformation as one of the most fundamental turning points in art. It was during this time that his favorite painters started shifting away from the church toward the bourgeoisie as their primary supporters. Jacquet mimics the quiet drama of the early Baroque period by applying the painting techniques of Spanish painters Francisco de Zurbarán and Diego Velázquez. “I think Jonathan’s work is notably outside the trends in contemporary art,” says Katya Tepper, a contemporary painter and performance artist based in Athens, Ga. “They feel reactionary. I define them not by what they are, but by what they are not, how outside of the zeitgeist they feel. Although he and I appear to be working on opposite ends of the spectrum with our paintings, I think we are both mesmerized by paint as a material, and we are both expected to refer to its intense history when we make art in the age of technology.”
            Jacquet enjoys modeling sculptures after bog bodies, or preserved human corpses found in Northern Europe. When he lived in New York during the 1990s, he made several life-size figures from wood, hand-stitching leather over them with kite string to create a mummy effect. “Those who are looking for pictures to match their sofa don’t quite ‘get it,’” says Shawn Vinson, a professional art advisor and Jacquet’s representative in Atlanta. “Jonathan’s work stopped and made me look further. I was struck by his unique style and his painting talent was obvious.” These leather bodies were often suspended from the ceiling or hung from the wall for balance and dramatic effect. “I think I’m kind of attracted towards the grotesque because of my eye,” says Jacquet. “The facial deformity that’s caused by the eye being smaller than the other one is always there.”
            In 1997, Jacquet graduated from the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., with a bachelor’s degree in sculpture. He later earned his master’s in sculpture from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2001.  Jacquet was a scenic sculptor for the Ringling Bros. Circus for two years, carving massive floats from polyurethane foam. He sculpted a 40-foot-tall mountain for “Hercules on Ice” and cast 40 to 50 skulls for Rasputin’s lair in “Anastasia on Ice.” As the lead scenic sculptor for Sightline Studios in Stark, Fla., Jacquet helped construct a 30-foot-long dragon that now sits in a theme park called Terra Mítica in Spain. Additionally, he carved rocks for Universal Studios, sanded the seat backs of river rafting ride Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and carved a Mickey Mouse statue for a rest stop off Interstate 4 in Florida.
*          *          *
            Jacquet currently works at the Georgia Museum of Art as a security supervisor and at Athens Regional Medical Center as a patient sitter. He is finishing his last year of nursing school at Athens Technical College and will graduate next spring. Balancing his time making art with work and family is a stressful challenge for the father of two. For the past decade, he has not created many sculptures—his preferred medium—because of time constraints.
            He adores his two children, Daisy, 8, and Victor, 6, but admits that taking care of them limits time for his art. On weekdays, he wakes up at 7:15 a.m. to feed his kids and drop them off at school, so he can get to class by 8:30 a.m. After his two four-hour-long lectures are over, he picks his children up from school and tries to devote the rest of his time to them. Every Tuesday, he takes them to the library so they can check-out books and do homework. “Victor’s starting to read, and Daisy’s reading chapter books,” says Jacquet. “She’s in this kind of network for kids and what books they read.” He can name several of her favorite series off the top of his head: “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Judy Moody” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”
             When he arrives home, he cooks dinner (his entire family is vegetarian), gives his children baths and then reads to them for an hour before they fall asleep. He has about 90 minutes to himself after this to read and prepare for the next day. 
*          *          *
            After spending most of his childhood in and out of hospitals, Jacquet knew he wanted to be either a doctor or an artist. The course curriculum at Athens Tech coincides with Jacquet’s interest in medicine and, he hopes, will provide him with a stable income in the future.  Despite his interest in both areas, Jacquet still feels torn between his art and nursing school. “I hope my pursuit of art doesn’t damage my career as a nurse,” he says. “I don’t know how corruptive the two will be.”
            He believes that sacrifices in his artwork are necessary to pursue a career in nursing. “People’s lives are important,” he says. “If they need me to be at a level of skill that might be impeded by my career in art, then I might have to sacrifice something.” Despite his confusion, he finds nursing fulfilling. He both fears and respects the amount of dedication the profession requires. In clinicals, students are expected to mimic a nurse’s typical work day, often forcing Jacquet to put art on the back burner. After spending eight hours a week in class and 36 hours a week prepping and doing paper work, he doesn’t have much time to paint.
            Instead, he turns to his children for inspiration. Lately, Victor has been drawing more. He likes to decorate pages, stapling them together to make a book or magazine. “They believe they’ll be able to draw like I can,” he says. “To help them, I put pirate patches on them, so they can draw with one eye.” He wants his children to follow their interests and isn’t too concerned about them learning how to draw accurately from life. “I have a vision of what I’m trying to work towards,” he says. “Sometimes it gets clouded, but I have faith that I know what I want to do. I always know I’ll be making art.”

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Happy Birthday, William Merritt Chase!

William Merritt Chase in 1900
Born in 1849 in Nineveh, Ind., Chase was an exponent of Impressionism and is best known for establishing the Chase School, today Parsons The New School for Design. In 1861, Chase’s father moved the family to Indianapolis and employed William as a salesman in his local business. Chase exhibited an interest in art early and studied under such local, self-taught artists as Jacob Cox, a landscape and portrait painter who is known for his paintings of several Indiana governors.
Chase joined the navy for a brief period before his teachers encouraged him to travel to New York to further his artistic training in 1869. He enrolled in the National Academy of Design and studied under Lemuel Wilmarth, who was a student of French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme, considered one of the most important painters in the Academic style. Chase was forced to leave a year later for St. Louis, Mo., to rejoin his family due to financial trouble. While he worked to help support them, he ingrained himself in the St. Louis art community, winning prizes for paintings at local exhibitions. In 1871, Chase exhibited his first painting at the National Academy, which elicited the interest of wealthy St. Louis collectors who ultimately acted as his benefactors, arranging for him to visit Europe for two years in exchange for his paintings and help securing European art for their own collections.
Chase traveled around Europe, first settling in Munich at the Academy of Fine Arts in Germany, then made his way to Venice. He returned to the United States in the summer of 1878, where he subsequently exhibited his new paintings with the newly created Society of American Artists. He also opened a studio in New York and became a member of the Tilers, a group of artists and authors including Winslow Homer and John Twachtman.
In 1886, Chase, now a cosmopolitan and esteemed art teacher, married Alice Gerson, one of his favorite models, and she continued to be his primary model throughout the 30 years of their marriage. They raised eight children, and their eldest daughters, Alice and Dorothy, often modeled for their father as well. During this period, Chase cultivated the lifestyle of a devoted family man, but he became known for his extravagant spending as well, filling his studio with lavish furniture and oriental carpets. By 1895, the cost of maintaining the studio as well as his other residences forced Chase to close it and auction its contents.
In addition to his on-and-off teaching jobs, Chase, on the advice of a patron, opened the Shinnecock Hills Summer School on eastern Long Island, N.Y., in 1891 and taught there until 1902, during which time he adopted the plein-air method of painting and held the majority of his classes outside. In 1896 Chase created his educational magnum opus, the Chase School of Art, which became the New York School of Art two years later. Chase stayed on as a teacher until 1907. Along with Robert Henri, Chase became the most important teacher of 20th century artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley and George Pearse Ennis. 

Chase’s creativity declined in his later years during the onset of modern art, but he kept painting and teaching into the 1910s. He died on Oct. 25, 1916, in New York, and his works carry on his legacy as an esteemed elder of the American art world. His paintings hang in most major U.S. museums, and the Georgia Museum of Art happens to have in its permanent collection one of his paintings of Shinnecock Hills, the location of his home and primary studio, which were added to the National Register of Historic Places. If you would like to have a look at the place that inspired a true visionary, feel free to come on in! 

William Merritt Chase
Shinnecock Hills, ca. 1892

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tradition Redefined


When the Georgia Museum of Art first opened its doors after construction of the new additions and renovations to the facility, one of the first exhibitions to grace our halls was “Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art.”
Initially, the collection was a travelling exhibition from a private collection and organized by the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African American and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park. “Tradition Redefined” comprises 72 works dating from 2007 back to the 1890s. The 67 artists, both celebrated and regional, who produced these paintings and sculptures were picked by the Thompsons for their “untraditional” narratives and conventions of presenting African American art and the African American diaspora. Little did we know, however, that the exhibition would become a prized component of our permanent collection.

Radcliffe Bailey

The Thompsons generously donated their collection to the museum in 2011, during the 50th-anniversary celebration of the University of Georgia’s desegregation, as well as providing the financial support to create a new curatorial position at the museum: the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of the African Diaspora. This curator will oversee the museum’s collection of paintings, sculptures, and other artistic media by African and African American artists as well as being an adjunct faculty member of the Lamar Dodd School of Art. This is not the first time the Thompsons participated in the museum’s and the university’s academic affairs. Larry, as a former U.S. deputy attorney general, has spoken numerous times at the university since 2001, and taught for a brief time at UGA’s law school as the John A. Sibley Professor in Corporate and Business Law before being recalled to PepsiCo. Brenda currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Barnes Foundation and the Board of the Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries. She also joined the museum’s Board of Advisors in 2011. Obviously, it would be a gross understatement to say that the Thompsons value education.

Stephanie Jackson

The collection itself has given more variety and depth to the museum’s new galleries, but for the moment it has moved on from GMOA. An exhibition such as this one should be shared with as many people as possible, and “Tradition Redefined” is currently on display at the Rice University Art Gallery in Houston, Texas, as part of the university’s centennial celebration, where it will be until Nov. 18. Along with 15 other commemorative exhibitions around Rice, “Tradition Redefined” will help highlight and celebrate the 100 years of change that transformed Rice from a small university close to the middle of nowhere to an international and educational success. After that, the collection will travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to be featured in the Knoxville Museum of Art April 11 through June 16, 2013.
If you have the opportunity to see "Tradition Redefined" at Rice, the Knoxville Museum of Art or elsewhere on the road, we hope you stop by and take a look at it, as well as at any of our other travelling exhibitions on tour. As part of our mission, GMOA supports and promotes the spread of the visual arts as tools of education, but it is up to our patrons, both near and far, to use them.

Museum Mix!


If you remember July 12, then you probably remember spending at least part of the night at the Georgia Museum of Art, and I don’t mean as part of a gallery tour. We call it Museum Mix, and we’ve got another one on the night of Oct. 24!
The party starts at 8 pm and will finish up at midnight, although we do have another event at 7 if you would like to attend: Interview in the Galleries, where you can join special guests Julie Martin and Robert Whitman for a discussion of Experiment in Art and Technology (E.A.T) and “The New York Collection for Stockholm.”
 Entrance, music and the drinks are free (although we must remind you that we can only serve alcohol to people 21 years of age or older—you’ll need to get a wristband at the registration table to get cleared). The sponsors for the evening are Full Circle Realty, Earth Fare, Terrapin Beer Company, Greg Hall and Company, Fast Signs, United Distribution and Allagash Brewing/Victory Brewing/Innis & Gunn Brewing/Reed’s Ginger Ale. We also have a co-promoting sponsor, Athens Fashion Collective.
The music will be provided by DJ Black Dominoes of Atlanta, so get ready to dance the night away, but if you want to take a break from the dance floor, you’re also free to go upstairs and have a look in the galleries—along with our permanent collection, you can see the Orpheus relief, our exhibition of Belleek porcelain, the documentary on De Wain Valentine’s “Gray Column,” “The Look of Love” and everything else we have on display.
             If you’d like more information, you can follow us on Tumblr or join the event on our Facebook page. We can’t wait to see you there!



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Holbrook to Marshall

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has a wonderful blog post up [here] detailing J. LeRoy Davidson and his curatorial role in the Advancing American Art program at the State Department. Davidson and the 1946 exhibition are the subject of an exhibition--Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy--now open at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn. The show will be at the Georgia Museum of Art next autumn...

The Walker's blog post has a letter written by Daniel Defenbacher, the Walker’s director, to Secretary of State George Marshall protesting the end of the State Department's program overseen by Davidson.

In the archives in the C.L. Morehead Jr. Center for the Study of American Art at the Georgia Museum of Art, we have a letter dated 12 May 1947 from our first director/curator, Alfred Holbrook, to Secretary Marshall as well:
In it, Holbrook writes: "It would seem that the criticisms I have read, in the newspaper furor that has been created, results from an art taste that is 25 years behind the times."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, Charlie Lucas!


Today we celebrate the birth of Charlie “Tin Man” Lucas, born in 1951, in Autauga County, Ala. Lucas was one of 14 children born to a father who was an auto mechanic and taught his children how to dismantle an engine and put it back together. Lucas’ grandfather was a gunsmith, his grandmother was a weaver and his great-grandfather was a blacksmith—it was almost pre-determined for Lucas to end up working as a sculptor with scrap metal. That much was evident from an early age, when he would make his own toys out of household items and scraps instead of playing with his siblings.
Lucas left home at the age of 14, working and travelling from town to town as a painter to support himself, even making it as far as Florida. Six years on the road passed by before he returned to Autauga County to reunite with his childhood sweetheart Annie Lykes. They married in 1971 and had six children of their own. Lucas continued to work as an artist, painting more often than sculpting, but in 1984 he sustained a serious back injury that kept him bedridden for almost a year. A devout man and poor at the time, Lucas prayed for the inspiration to do something with his work that had never been seen or done.
His prayer was answered, as Lucas returned to metalworking with a newfound fervor and passion that drove him like nothing else. He began constructing his original and unique sculptures from scrap yards and dumps, turning objects that others threw away into incredible works of art. To this day, Lucas incorporates his whimsical and personal vision in his folk art. Even though the junk metal may look crude and ugly, Lucas makes it into something beautiful as his reflection on life—there are ugly and crude moments, but it is up to us, as our own artists, to make it into something amazing. A prime example of this is "Girl with Balloons," which resides in the Georgia Museum of Art’s permanent collection.

"Girl With Balloons"
Charlie Lucas

Lucas maintains many homes, including in Selma, Ala., where he used to collaborate with his neighbor, the late Kathryn Tucker in making this “scrap art”. Additionally, Lucas has written multiple books, including “In the Belly of the Ship,” a collection of stories, and “Tin Man,” an autobiographical work.
If you’d like to have a look at Lucas’ work, then we invite you to come to the GMOA, find the girl with the bike-wheel balloons and celebrate with her today!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Look of Love

September is over; already the weather is starting to cool down and the leaves are turning from green into crisp gold and starting to fall. It is time to say goodbye to summer, but with the heat starting to abate (at least a little!), I’m sure many of us would be more than happy to see it go. The Georgia Museum of Art has its own way of welcoming autumn with a new and very special exhibition.
Along with what we currently have on display, The Look of Love: Eye Miniatures from the Skier Collection will open on Saturday, Oct. 6. The exhibition is the first of its kind in that it features solely lover’s eye jewelry, an expression of intimacy between lovers created and used primarily in the late 1700s and early 1800s in England. Secret lovers would have miniature portraits of each other’s eyes made into brooches, rings, pendants or bracelets, many of them depicting the eye and a wisp of hair, hinting at an identity but never revealing it. In most cases, the painted eye could only be recognized by intimately familiar couples, while others would merely see a fancy trinket. The trend of eye jewelry was started by the Prince of Wales at the time (later George IV), possibly to maintain a form of intimacy with his multiple mistresses. Eventually, these miniature marvels came to be used for family members as mementos or for mourning pieces, containing the eye of the dearly departed.

Pendant
The collection, put together by David and Nan Skier, contains more than 100 objects, making it the largest collection of lover’s eyes in the world. The Birmingham Museum of Art organized the exhibition and created an iPad app to present alongside the collection, providing additional information about and magnifications of each personal work of art. GMOA’s Henry D. Green Curator of Decorative Arts Dale Couch will serve as the in-house curator of the exhibition, which is sponsored by the W. Newton Morris Charitable foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.
Throughout the month of October we’ll celebrate the arrival of the exhibition; the Collectors of the Georgia Museum of Art will organize an exclusive dinner and private tour of the exhibition as soon as it opens on Oct. 6. What’s more is that Nan Skier, the collector,  will lead the tour. Space is limited, so please call 706.542.GMOA (4662) to reserve a ticket! There will be another chance to receive a tour from both Skiers on Sunday, Oct. 7, during a Gallery Talk from 1 to 2 p.m. Additionally we’ll have a Family Day event on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to noon, which will involve participants making their own spooky eye miniatures in time for Halloween. To cap it off there will be another Gallery Talk, “Cult of the Dead,” on Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 2 to 3 p.m. with Tricia Miller, our head registrar,  who will discuss trends in sentimentality and mourning such as lover’s eye jewelry, needle work, gravestone imagery and cemetery design.
If you would like to see priceless works of art or make some of your own, please feel free to come in at any time during our hours or plan to come to one of our events! We would be more than happy for you to stop by and enjoy the perks of October as much as we will!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Lamar Dodd!


Today we celebrate the birth of Lamar Dodd, one of the most important driving forces behind the Georgia Museum of Art, second only to Alfred Herber Holbrook. Born in 1909 in Fairburn, Ga., Dodd was immersed in his artistic training starting at the age of 12, when he enrolled in classes at LaGrange College. He continued his education, studying during a brief stint at Georgia Tech and teaching art in rural Alabama, until he realized he wasn’t going to evolve as artist if he remained in the South. Dodd made the move to New York City, where he took classes at the Art Students League and learned his craft from artists such as Boardman Robinson, a well-known illustrator and political cartoonist. It was also during his time in New York that Dodd was exposed to the nativist art of the 1920s and 1930s, greatly influencing his style.

Lamar Dodd
Self Portrait


Dodd returned to Alabama in 1933 to work in an art supply store while continuing to paint, emphasizing the techniques and styles of local, southern art in his works. Four years later, he was involved in a national movement to incorporate working artists into universities, and he was appointed to the faculty of the University of Georgia, where, within another three years, he merged all teaching of the visual arts into one department, now name the Lamar Dodd School of Art.
It was during the 1940s when Dodd met Holbrook and collaborated with him on the embryonic stages of GMOA. During one of his trips to Athens, Holbrook became acquainted with Dodd and eventually took classes under him, creating some of his own works both in and out of the classroom. While helping establish the museum during the later 1940s and 1950s, Dodd began travelling farther and farther out of Georgia, eventually making it up to Monhegan Island, Maine, where he briefly painted the landscapes that had inspired artists such as Abraham Bogdanove and Robert Henri. Dodd also travelled to Europe to improve upon his work by studying examples from the Old Masters. Furthermore, he served as a cultural emissary for the State Department and journeyed to Asia and the former Soviet Union. The styles he observed during his travels to these places influenced his techniques, evident in his brighter palette from that period.
Dodd was also invited by NASA in 1963 to document parts of the space race in art. This commission began his more scientifically themed phase of painting, which lasted through the late 1970s. He used monochromatic tones in blacks and whites to symbolize the voids of space or lunar glares, occasionally embellishing elements with metallic silvers and golds. Space wasn’t enough for Dodd, and he turned his attention to the human body, painting representations of X-rays and tissue studies to create the Heart series, an artistic manifestation of how he viewed the human heart.
He reverted to painting scenes of the natural world in the 1980s and 1990s, the later years of his life. Dodd died in 1996, months after the Lamar Dodd School of Art had was dedicated to him. His legacy continues in the art school as well as in GMOA, where many of his paintings reside in our permanent collection as his gifts to Holbrook and all who wish to see them. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering


9 Evenings poster (1966)

Tonight at 7 p.m., we're screening the three available DVDs featuring footage from the 9 Evenings performances by Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, and David Tudor, along with documentary interviews with people involved in the landmark 1966 performance art event. I'll introduce the DVDs with a brief talk, but for those of you wanting more information, I'd like to suggest this website, which is a fantastic resource for information on 9 Evenings and lots more:


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Closer Look: De Wain Valentine and Human Scale


One of the Georgia Museum of Art’s latest exhibitions, “De Wain Valentine: Human Scale,” opened on Sept. 8, and will be on display until Jan. 27, 2013. In addition to bringing the necessary pieces together in a cohesive manner, a considerable amount of research was required for the exhibition—knowing how, when, and in what context Valentine created his work provides a greater understanding of the different artistic movements during the 1960s and 1970s. A large portion of that research was provided by Beau Ott, a collector of Valentine’s work, who also graciously provided three iconic sculptures for the exhibition: “Lavender Column” (1968), “Rose Circle” (1970) and “Gray Ring” (1974).
“As I enjoy researching the art and artists whose work I collect, I had amassed quite a bit of information about this body of Valentine’s work,” Ott said. “I have been collecting art, from mainly the 1960’s, for nearly 10 years. I became a fan of Valentine’s works, especially from this period, several years ago. I was very excited when the initial opportunity arose for me to acquire one of Valentine’s polyester resin works.”
Ott, as it turns out, became friends with Valentine through the process of obtaining his sculptures. This friendship is especially highlighted in the documentary on loan from the Getty Museum, “From Start to Finish: The Story of De Wain Valentine’s ‘Gray Column’,” which is featured alongside the exhibition.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for the vision that De Wain had during a very special time in art history and that he had the tenacity to work with a very difficult medium in order to realize his artistic vision,” said Ott. “I said to him in a recent conversation, ‘De Wain, has anyone in your entire life ever, accused you of thinking small?’”
Indeed, the idea of the small does not seem to apply to Valentine’s work. These sculptures stand six to eight feet high and weigh hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, according to Ott.
“Valentine’s work in this exhibit offers a unique art-viewing experience,” he said. “The large, clear-colored, plastic lens-like sculptures affect the viewer’s perception and offer a unique sculpture-viewing experience as one can simultaneously observe all facets, curves and edges. This was never before possible until Valentine developed the special polyester resin material that could be used [for his work].”

Beau Ott and
De Wain Valentine's
"Lavender Column"

Ott and our docents



“Human Scale” is the first time Valentine’s work has been featured on the East Coast outside of New York, and it seems a stroke of luck that it managed to happen, according to Ott.
“Collectors are hesitant to allow their human scale polyester resin sculptures to travel,” he said. “While Valentine created approximately 50 human scale polyester resin sculptures, fewer…are extant due to the fragility of the pieces.”
There isn’t much room for error, but overall, Ott is happy with the way GMOA has presented Valentine’s work and encourages all to come have a closer look at the immense sculptures.
“The GMOA exhibition was brilliantly curated to allow each of these eight works to be seen to present the fullest effect to the exhibitions’ viewers,” he said. “[It] offers the never-before opportunity to see eight of these sculptures on display within the same exhibition.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Come See The New York Collection for Stockholm


The New York Collection for Stockholm is an aggregate collection of works of art that was created in the early 1970s. The elements that generated the collection began to come together during the revolutionary artistic developments in the 1960s. After World War II, the United States went through a great deal of change, due to the influence of mass media, the dissemination of information and new technologies, the rise of consumerism, the Vietnam War and, artistically, the emergence in the late 1940s and 1950s of Abstract Expressionism, a form of art characterized best by its emotional influence and subconscious, spontaneous creation. The group Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) was part of this zeitgeist and wanted to foster collaboration between artists and engineers and further both communities’ self-interests.
Initially, E.A.T. was inspired by 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, an event produced by artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman and Bell Lab engineers Willhelm Klüver and Fred Waldhauer in 1966. The 10 performance ran for nine evenings, starting on October 13, and was held at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City. The nine multimedia evenings included work by seven other collaborations between an artist and engineers, and it was through the idea of these unions that E.A.T. was officially born immediately after the event. Two years later, the number of group members had expanded to roughly 2,000 artists and 2,000 engineers who participated in projects around the world.
As one of the co-founders of E.A.T., Klüver’s connection to the Moderna Museet in his homeland, Sweden, was instrumental in the genesis of the New York Collection for Stockholm. The director of the Moderna, Pontus Hulten, had Klüver to thank for the museum’s acquisition of some of the best American art at that time—ranging from Andy Warhol to Donald Judd. In 1964, one of Rauschenberg’s sculptures joined the ranks of the Moderna’s permanent collection, five years after he had met Klüver.
            Klüver had already become an influential part of the New York art community before 9 Evenings, working with artists to help them utilize technology in their works. Klüver also helped organize exhibitions and film series in Stockholm. One of the events he helped organize at the Moderna hat gained considerable notice in 1964 was 5 New York Evenings, a performance art series. In the early 1970s, the E.A.T. looked to put together a collection of some of the most important American art of the 1960s, with the aim of donating it to a public museum. They chose 30 works in a variety of media and selected the Moderna Museet in Stockholm as the recipient because of its strong history of support for American contemporary art.
Roy Lichtenstein
Finger Pointing
The galleries representing the artists slated for the collection agreed to waive their commissions, cutting the price of the acquisition in half. Princess Christina of Sweden agreed to be the “Patroness of the Collection” so the Swedish government was willing to donate a fifth of the funds necessary for the purchases. However, E.A.T. needed more money in order to purchase the collection, and it was through E.A.T. and Klüver’s work that the enough funding was raised in the form of a limited edition portfolio. The portfolio includes 30 prints by each of the artists—including Kenneth Noland, Dan Flavin, and Nam June Paik—whose work E.A.T. intended to purchase and gift to the Moderna for its collection. The portfolio was produced in an edition of 300, and began selling in the spring of 1973. By the summer of that year, E.A.T. had acquired enough funding to purchase its contemporary American art collection and donate it to Stockholm.
Robert Rauschenberg
Untitled

The Georgia Museum of Art has recently purchased one of the original portfolios Klüver and Hulten compiled. Lynn Boland, Pierre Daura Curator of European Art, organized the exhibition, and the prints from the portfolio will be on display in the Lamar Dodd Gallery at the GMOA from August 18 until October 28. If seeing one of the great turning points of American art sounds like a great way to spend the day, then we highly suggest you come for a visitDon’t miss an extra special treat when Julie Martin (Billy Klüver’s widow and co-founder of E.A.T.) and Robert Whitman (artist and co-founder of E.A.T.) come to GMOA. Boland will lead a conversation with both of them in the gallery on October 24 at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ralston Crawford!


Well known for his Precisionist and geometrically abstract style, Crawford was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1906. He moved with his family at the age of 10 to Buffalo, N.Y., and spent time sailing with his father on the Great Lakes. Following his high school graduation, Crawford worked on cargo ships for six months, traveling to the Caribbean and the Pacific. In 1927, Crawford began his artistic education at Otis Art Institute, working at the Walt Disney Studio as an animator for a side job. He returned to the East Coast to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and at the Barnes Foundation. It was during his later round of studies that he was influenced in his work by the art of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. In 1934, along with being a member of the Independents, a collective of modernist painters, Crawford had his first one-man art show at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Crawford went through multiple artistic phases in his life, the most notable being his Precisionist and geometrically abstract phases. His Precisionist work focused on realistic, sharp renderings of industrial areas, such as factories, bridges, and shipyards, all of which incorporated straight edges and clear borders between separate elements. Crawford’s early work in this vein placed him among other Precisionist artists such as Charles Sheeler, whose noteworthy accomplishments include being one of the founders of American modernism and one of the master photographers of the 20th century. The use of straight lines in the majority of Crawford’s work evolved into his geometrically abstract period, in which he would utilize the shape as the focus of his paintings, taking events such as bullfighting in Spain or spaces such as cemeteries in New Orleans and re-forming them into how he envisioned them in a geometric spectrum.
One of the highlights of Crawford’s career was an assignment from Fortune Magazine. He traveled to the Bikini Atoll in 1946 to record a portion of the events during Operation Crossroads, a series of nuclear weapons tests that provided information on atmospheric and underwater detonations of atomic bombs. The test was incredibly high-profile due to the fact that it was the first detonation of any nuclear device since the bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. Additionally, Crawford worked with photography and experimented with film and printmaking. Crawford died on April 17, 1978, in Houston, Tex., succumbing to cancer. 
The Georgia Museum of Art’s permanent collection includes Crawford’s depiction of the blast generated by the atmospheric bomb, nicknamed Able, from Operation Crossroads. For anyone interested in the artistic aspects of such an almost literally “volatile” period in American history, GMOA invites you to come in and experience the reverberations of what Crawford witnessed years ago.


Ralston Crawford
Test Able
1946

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

De Wain Valentine: Thinking Inside and Outside The Box


In grade school we learn about the basic shapes in geometry: circles, ovals, squares, triangles, rectangles, quadrangles, parallelograms, the rhombus, pentagons, hexagons, octagons—the list goes on and on. Under most circumstances, these shapes are only used as simple elements within a much larger work of art. For example, one might use a circle and a triangle in a basic sketch. With added detail, the circle can become a head and the triangle takes the shape of a nose. With more shading, a few lines and a pair of eyes, facial features come into view, and eventually we lose track of the painting’s humble beginnings.
Like any other artist, De Wain Valentine approaches his sculptures with the basic geometry of the finished product in mind. But instead of fading away through added details such as fine chiseling or added sanding and polishing, the concept of the shape serves as the most essential part of his work. That is not to say Valentine doesn’t pay attention to detail—the technical composition of his large, polyester resin sculptures requires a complex process to bring out a sheen that acts as both an opaque reflector and a filter for light to pass through. In this regard, Valentine enables his audiences to look at both themselves and at other people within the scope of his sculptures, almost literally immersing the viewer in art.

De Wain Valentine
"Lavender Column"

De Wain Valentine
"Circle Blue Smoke Flow"


Valentine has had installations shown in the Museum of Modern Art, The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu and the San Diego Museum of Art. The Georgia Museum of Art, through the efforts of chief curator and Curator of American Art Paul Manoguerra, Pierre Daura Curator of European Art Lynn Boland, Director William Underwood Eiland, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art, has put together an exhibition featuring Valentine’s work in Human Scale. The exhibition will run from Sept. 8, 2012, until Jan. 27, 2013. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Start the Semester With a BANG!

BANG! Student Night at the Georgia Museum of Art, August 30, 8-10:30PM


The Georgia Museum of Art Student Association commits itself to spreading awareness about art and encouraging the influence of a student voice at the museum. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t know how to kick back and have a good time.
On Thursday, Aug. 30, the GMOASA will host BANG! Back to School Student Night, which will go from 8 until 10:30 pm. The theme is “War Meets Post-War,” exemplified by the exhibitions of Francisco de Goya’s “Disasters of War” and “The New York Collection for Stockholm,” which highlight two very different time periods and war-era moods.
Not only will there be fun and free food, but the association will also have a range of activities including a photo booth with props and images based on 1960s American art and pop culture, a scavenger hunt starting at 8:30, which will involve searching through the galleries to receive cool prizes, and DIY projects based around Chakaia Booker’s works in the sculpture garden. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet members of the association, including the president, Eva Berlin, and mingle with other students who share similar interests in the arts.
The best part about this event? Besides the experience of art, meeting new people, and having a good time? How about the fact that all of this is FREE? So come start the new school year on a good foot. The museum and the Georgia Museum of Art Student Association will be waiting for you at 90 Carlton Street!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Makeover



If you're a regular visitor to our blog, you may well have noticed the new look and new name, both recently implemented. After years of the blog going by "Curator's Corner," we realized that wasn't always accurate. Paul Manoguerra, our chief curator and curator of American art, originally started this blog, back in the days when he had more time to write for it. But he has exhibitions to plan and books to write and many other things to do that interfere with his blogging duties. Paul still contributes occasionally, as does Lynn Boland, Pierre Daura Curator of European Art at the museum, but this blog is now overwhelmingly written by our wonderful students in the department of communications.

A fresh look complements the new name: Holbrook's Trunk. Alfred Heber Holbrook, pictured above, was the founder and first director of the Georgia Museum of Art. A retired New York lawyer, he devoted the second half of his life to collecting art and then to evangelizing about it. We are forever thankful that he met Lamar Dodd and decided to give his collection to the University of Georgia to establish a museum for the citizens of the state. Since 1945, when the museum was made official (despite the fact that it didn't have a building until 1948), we have been directed by his philosophy. Holbrook was so dedicated to promoting the importance of art that he used to load paintings into the trunk of his car and take off around the state, spreading the gospel to whoever would listen. That kind of carefree behavior with works of art is, somewhat unfortunately, no longer a possibility, but the impulse behind it—to sing the praises of the visual arts across the state, in as relatable a way as possible—still drives us and this blog.

We hope you like the rebrand. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On Display: The Epic and the Intimate


The Epic and the Intimate: French Drawings from the John D. Reilly Collection at the Snite Museum of Art is a travelling exhibition compiled by the University of Notre Dame’s museum.
The exhibition contains 60 examples tracing the history of French drawings, some of them from before the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture’s establishment, and dating through the French Revolution in 1789. Those 60 drawings, however, are only a taste of the highlights of the full collection at Notre Dame. The John D. Reilly ’63 Collection of Old Master and Nineteenth-Century Drawings currently holds more than 500 French drawings assembled through the collaboration of Reilly and emeritus curator Stephen Spiro.
As the aim of The Epic and the Intimate is to depict a specific period in French history, the collection features work by such artists as Antoine Watteau, Charles de la Fosse and Eugène Delacroix. Most of these drawings were produced during the late 1600s to the early 1700s and, as such, represent a turning point not only in French history, but also in French artistic style. The majority of these revolutionary techniques, in drawing especially, were compounded by the founding of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1648. The Academy was responsible for opening schools, appointing instructors and organizing competitions. It ultimately monopolized the art market, generating an influx of new artistic design. One of the changes in technique included a focus on the intimate details of the subject, cultivating a more in-depth and powerful scene or portrait for the viewer.

Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson (1767 – 1824), Christ Led from Pilate, ca. 1789, black chalk on off-white laid paper.
Snite Museum of Art: Gift of Mr. John D. Reilly ’63, 2000.074.007.

So far, the exhibition has travelled from the Snite Museum to the Flint Institute of Arts in Flint, Mich., and will be featured at the Crocker Art Museum in California next year. Through the efforts of Lynn Boland (the Georgia Museum of Art’s Pierre Daura Curator of European Art), the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art, GMOA has secured a spot in its schedule for The Epic and the Intimate, and the collection will be on display at the museum from August 18 until November 3 of this year.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gold Medals and Art


With the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games due to air tonight, we were interested to see this article from Smithsonian.com on the history of arts medals given out at the Olympics. Although they were only given out from 1912 to 1952, and somewhat spottily at that, the idea that arts could stand alongside sport in international competition is one not often contemplated. Wikipedia has a listing of all the medals awarded, and many of the names are not familiar. One, though, is that of Mahonri Young, who received a gold medal in the "statues" category in 1932. The grandson of Mormon pioneer Brigham Young, he worked in engraving and watercolor as well as sculpture. The image pictured above is his etching "Hopi Snake Dance" (ca. 1924), which is on long-term loan to the Georgia Museum of Art from the collection of Jason Schoen. Some of Young's most well-known works are the painted sculpture dioramas he created for the American Museum of Natural History in New York. This etching most likely relates to that project and probably resulted from the many sketches he made on a research trip to the American Southwest.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

We're Just Getting Started!


It’s been a fulfilling summer here at the Georgia Museum of Art. We’ve had exhibitions come and go, interns who have started and departed and events and parties throughout. As July winds down and August looms around the corner, what can we expect from the GMOA this coming autumn? After all of the amazing art in only a summer, what more can the museum show?
While our permanent collection remains as impressive as ever in its cohesive survey of artists ranging from Americans of the Roaring ‘20s to those of the Italian Renaissance, and Chakaia Booker’s statues remain in our sculpture garden, GMOA has a few more tricks up its sleeves that are bound to wow. We’re going to hit the ground running on the very first day of August, as we’ll be installing George Beattie’s controversial agriculture murals, which will be on display through Jan. 7, 2013. What else do we have, you ask?  On August 18, we’re going to open not one, but three exhibitions to the public. First, we have “Francisco de Goya's 'Disasters of War',” which features all 80 prints from the master's series. Second, we have “The Epic and the Intimate,” a collection of French drawings dating all the way back to the late 1600s, on loan from the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame. Third, and this should really knock your socks off, the GMOA has made a recent purchase, and quite an incredible one at that, in “The New York Collection for Stockholm Portfolio,” a collection of prints compiled in the 1970s for a joint project between the artists and engineers of New York and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. The cherry on top that makes this acquisition so special? The edition we purchased was an original publisher’s proof, meaning it was never meant to go into stores with the other 300 copies. All of this is just in August—this summer was just a taste of what we have in store. There’s plenty more coming, so stick around! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Art for the Family


In my experience, I’ve noticed that individual members of a family tend to have different tastes in art. I personally enjoy looking at the work of Salvador Dalí and John William Waterhouse, while my sister prefers Claude Monet’s paintings. We do share similar tastes in music and books, but paintings and sculptures are things we’ve always had different opinions about. On a simpler level, this difference in artistic taste can be something as easy as one child liking a blue jacket with a green circle on it, while his or her sibling prefers one with a yellow circle on it.
We’re happy knowing that the works in GMOA’s collection inspire family debates and discussions, and, as much as we enjoy hearing different interpretations, we’d also like to have families bond over their similar pleasures in art. So, for Family Day on July 21, from 10 am to noon, we’re inviting families to have a look at the southern folk art from our permanent collection, then create some of their own. Discussing why you’re drawn to a specific art style is one thing—showing why you are is another. Not only do we want families to have fun together, but we’d also like to encourage them to understand each other better during this bonding experience. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, James Whistler!


Whistler was born in Lowell, Mass., in 1834, and best known for his influence on artistic theory. Early on, Whistler was immersed in art. At the age of 11, he enrolled in the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he did well, before moving back to London with his relatives in 1847.

Though his mother sent him to Christ Church Hall School with the hope that he would become a minister, Whistler felt that a career in religion was not for him. He applied to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where, though he was accomplished at drawing, his grades were poor and he flouted authority. After being dismissed from the academy, Whistler tried his hand at mapping the East Coast of the United States for military and maritime purposes, but was transferred to another division of the Coast Survey. He lasted only two months there before leaving for France to pursue art as his true calling.

Later in his career, Whistler became a leading proponent of “art for art’s sake,” an idea he shared with his friend and rival Oscar Wilde. He believed that art was not something that should strictly illuminate a moral purpose, but should instead serve as an extension of the artist’s persona and emotions. An example of his philosophy, the painting “Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket,” was criticized heavily by the art critic John Ruskin. Whistler ended up suing Ruskin for libel. The artist won but he was only awarded a farthing (a quarter of a penny). The cost of the case and the debts accrued while building his residence caused Whistler to fall into bankruptcy midway through 1879.

"Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket"
James Whistler
Whistler continued to travel and produce art in Paris, London, and Venice. He went where he was commissioned, and his paintings sold well. He also published a book detailing his artistic ideals that, unfortunately, led to a complete breakdown of his friendship with Wilde. Whistler returned to London in 1896, when his wife was diagnosed with cancer; she died two months later. In the final years of his life, Whistler produced minimalist seascapes and corresponded with some of his old acquaintances. He founded an art school in 1898, but his poor health and infrequent teaching schedule led to its closure three years later. His health continued to decline and he died in 1903 on July 17.

The Georgia Museum of Art has a selection of Whistler’s art that highlights many of the qualities he worked to instill in his paintings. The canvases he produced act as his lasting contributions to artistic conversations and debates even today.  

"Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1"
James Whistler