The Eyes

The Eyes

Thursday, March 31, 2016

National Gallery of Art's 300 Years of American Prints

A new international traveling exhibition will explore major events and movements in American art through some 150 outstanding prints from the Colonial era to the present. Three Centuries of American Prints from the National Gallery of Art is the first major museum survey of American prints in more than 30 years.

Timed to coincide with the National Gallery of Art's 75th anniversary, the exhibition is drawn from the Gallery's renowned holdings of works on paper, and features more than 100 artists such as Paul Revere, James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, George Bellows, John Marin, Jackson Pollock, Louise Nevelson, Romare Bearden, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Chuck Close, Jenny Holzer, and Kara Walker.

Organized chronologically and thematically through nine galleries, Three Centuries of American Prints reveals the breadth and excellence of the Gallery's collection, while showcasing some of the standouts: exquisite, rare impressions of James McNeill Whistler's Nocturne (1879/1880), captivating prints by Mary Cassatt, a singularly stunning impression of John Marin's Woolworth Building, No. 1 (1913), and Robert Rauschenberg's pioneering Booster (1967).

Since its opening in 1941, the National Gallery of Art has assiduously collected American prints with the help of many generous donors. The Gallery's American print collection has grown from nearly 1,900 prints in 1950 to some 22,500 prints in 2015. The collection was transformed in recent years by the acquisitions, including the personal print archive of Jasper Johns, some 2,300 American prints from the Corcoran Gallery of Art, among other gifts to the Gallery.

On view in Washington, DC from April 3 through July 24, 2016, the exhibition will travel to the National Gallery in Prague from October 4, 2016 through January 5, 2017, followed by Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso in Mexico City from February 7 through April 30, 2017.

A Midnight Race on the Mississippi | 1860
Frances Flora Palmer
Color lithograph with hand-coloring
18 1/8 in. x 28 in.
Woolworth Building, No.1 | 1913
John Marin
 Etching with monotype inking on Japanese paper plate
11 7/8 in. x 9 15/16 in.

Source:  National Gallery of Art, Washington

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Persian Jacket by Grace Hartigan

Museum of Modern Art Director Alfred Barr visited the Tibor de Nagy Gallery on the last day of Grace Hartigan’s show in 1953. Barr lavished praise on Hartigan’s work titled, The Persian Jacket, and brought the painting back to MoMA on approval. Hartigan’s friend, the poet Frank O’Hara, was watching from his perch at the front desk at MoMA. O'Hara called Hartigan and gave her a blow-by-blow account of the awkward entrance of the massive canvas through the front door.

The next day, Barr called to say that there was a problem with the upper left-hand corner of the painting—Grace had failed to maintain the flatness of the surface. At his suggestion, she came to the museum the following Monday with her paints and spent about 30 minutes fixing the blend of colors in that spot.

Hartigan said in her journal:  
"I went up there this afternoon. Persian Jacket looked good, more full and arrogant than I remembered. I agreed about the area—it always was a difficult one to solve, partly because it is the most open area, and the one which in traditional painting would be the background.  The area bends in, so it doesn't sit right—and I'm going up on Monday with my paints to work on it a little. This was at Barr's suggestion—I thought it a bit unconventional, but we both remembered the incident of Delacroix touching up the Massacre of Scio two days before it was shown."
It took two months for the sale to go through—Barr secured a patron to buy the painting for $400 and donate it to the museum. The recognition was a great triumph for Hartigan.

The Persian Jacket | 1952
Oil on Canvas | 57 1/2 in. x 48 in.
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Restless Ambition: Grace Hartigan, Painter by Cathy Curtis
The Journals of Grace Hartigan, 1951-1955

Friday, March 25, 2016

Marc Chagall's White Crucifixion

Many of Marc Chagall’s paintings could be described as lively, romantic, humorous, imaginative, and filled with brilliant colors, but his White Crucifixion (seen below) is largely drained of color. Chagall painted it in 1938 while living in Paris, in response to the horrifying events of Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” an anti-Jewish pogrom of official decree by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels in Nazi Germany (including Austria and Sudetenland) from the 9th until the 10th of November 1938.

This painting represents a critical turning point for Chagall: it was the first of an important series of compositions that feature the image of Christ as a Jewish martyr and dramatically call attention to the persecution and suffering of European Jews in the 1930s.

In White Crucifixion, his first and largest work on the subject, Chagall stressed the Jewish identity of Jesus in several ways: he replaced his traditional loincloth with a prayer shawl, his crown of thorns with a headcloth, and the mourning angels that customarily surround him with three biblical patriarchs and a matriarch, clad in traditional Jewish garments.

At either side of the cross, Chagall illustrated the devastation of an officially encouraged organized persecution: On the left, a village is pillaged and burned, forcing refugees to flee by boat and the three bearded figures below them—one of whom clutches the Torah—to escape on foot. On the right, a synagogue and its Torah ark go up in flames, while below a mother comforts her child. By linking the martyred Jesus with the persecuted Jews and the Crucifixion with contemporary events, Chagall’s painting passionately identifies the Nazis with Christ’s tormentors and warns of the moral implications of their actions.

White Crucifixion | 1938
Oil on Canvas | 60 7/8 in. x 55 1/16 in.
The Art Institute of Chicago
Source:  The Art Institute of Chicago