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Thursday, 16 June 2011 23:42
Founded in 1932, the Courtauld Institute of Art not only houses one of the finest small collections in the world, but is also regarded as one of the leading centers for the study of art history and conservation. The result of the philanthropic efforts of industrialist and collector Samuel Courtauld, diplomat and collector Lord Lee of Fareham, and the art historian Sir Robert Witt, the Courtauld's holdings stretch from the early Renaissance into the twentieth century. Boasting a renowned anthology of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings thanks to Samuel Courtauld, the Institute's collection has grown over the years through a series of gifts and bequests by some of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries' leading collectors.
Thursday, 16 June 2011 02:34
William Samuel Schwartz (1896–1977) was quite a character. His quirky handlebar mustache and voluptuous head of hair matched his quick wit, multilingual tongue, and penchant for opera. Schwartz’s oeuvre included landscapes, portraits, and still lifes. His imagination often penetrated the brush and large, yet controlled, canvases of abstracted driftwood, biomorphic forms, and allegorical narratives became commonplace. Despite his jovial personality, conflicting themes often revealed themselves in his work. Drawing from the fauve spirit and utilizing elements of cubism, constructivism, and surrealism, Schwartz considered himself a "romantic modernist," refusing to bend to the whims of what was in vogue: "No one has told me I must depict this or that I must not venture upon that. I have painted in faith and in freedom—faith that somehow what I have done will reflect the best that is in memdash;freedom to choose my own themes in my own way."1
Thursday, 16 June 2011 02:23
Located in the Duke of York Square, one of London’s most posh areas, The BADA (British Antique Dealers’ Association) Antiques and Fine Art Fair enjoyed another successful year. Founded nineteen years ago, the Fair brings together the best art and antique dealers in the UK and features everything from furniture and paintings to silver, jewelry, ceramics, glass, and textiles.

Blessed with perfect spring weather, the show brought in over 1,300 attendees during the first hour, nearly 300 more than in 2010. The Fair is held in a purpose-built pavilion next door to the Saatchi Gallery and a selection of high-end boutiques and restaurants. Filled with enormous bouquets, the show’s atmosphere was bright and light and although the Fair was consistently busy from open to close, the mood remained relaxed.
Thursday, 16 June 2011 02:17
Maastricht, a picturesque medieval city steeped in history, filled with romantic streets and historic buildings, and arguably the oldest city in the Netherlands, is home once a year to the finest art and antiques show in the world, TEFAF Maastricht. When private jets fill the local airport everyone knows it’s show time. With 260 dealers from sixteen countries in nine sections, it was nearly impossible to view the entire show in the three days I was there. The art and objects in the show range from ancient to contemporary works, totaling an estimated $1.4 billion worth of museum-quality art. The Vernissage was packed with patrons, and it seemed as though there were more Americans willing to spend this year than last, acquiring some of the most important paintings in the show through dealers such as Noortman, Johnny van Haeften, and Koetser Gallery.
Thursday, 16 June 2011 02:10
Guided by spiritual leader George Rapp (1757–1847), a community of German Lutheran separatists, numbering some five hundred emigrants, gathered in Philadelphia and Baltimore in 1804 to trek westward. Their destination was land they had purchased about thirty-five miles north of Pittsburgh, where they intended to settle and pursue their religious lifestyle. Early the following year they contracted among themselves to form the Harmony Society headed by Rapp and “his associates,” to whom they transferred all their worldly assets and pledged obedience. In return, they were promised “all the necessaries of life…as well in sick as healthful days,”1 along with Rapp’s spiritual guidance and apocalyptic teachings. Surviving near financial ruin at the outset, the society built Harmonie (Fig. 1), the first of three settlements, and prospered. Within ten years, rising prices of land around Harmonie undermined expansion. More important, the site lacked navigable waters and adequate fall to power mills. In 1814, the Harmonists relocated to New Harmony along the Wabash River in Indiana Territory. Once more they built a thriving settlement, following their creed to provide essentials for themselves and to sell surpluses to outsiders. They manufactured textiles, produced alcoholic beverages, and made iron and tin wares, shoes and leather goods, soap, candles, and a variety of other goods for sale locally, as well as to distant stores they owned and operated, and, in the case of flour and textiles, to Nashville and New Orleans.
Thursday, 16 June 2011 01:55
Many people still think only of Rufus Porter (1792–1884) when they discuss New England landscape murals of the 1825–1845 period. Current research poses the probability, however, that in fact muralist Jonathan D. Poor (1807–1845) was much more prolific than Porter, his more famous uncle and mentor. While approximately 115 to 120 murals have traditionally been attributed to or associated with Porter, there are only three actually documented with his signature—those in Wakefield (Fig. 1), Westwood, and Woburn, Massachusetts. In contrast, while to date only thirty-five to forty murals have been attributed to Jonathan D. Poor, his signature appears in ten murals in Maine (Fig. 2) and two in Massachusetts, five of which are also dated, and some of which were previously attributed to Porter. This data and the reexamination of the known murals has allowed for the attribution of many other unsigned murals to his, rather than to Porter’s hand.

Rufus Porter left his mark on nineteenth-century American history as an itinerant artist, muralist, inventor, teacher, and founder of Scientific American magazine, among others.1 Unfortunately, much less is known about his nephew.
Thursday, 16 June 2011 01:39
Artists have explored the human face since ancient times. About Face: Portraiture as Subject at the Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, gathers together a choice selection of portraits in diverse mediums and across a range of time periods to examine how personality and character are portrayed in art. Forty works by leading artists known for their probing investigations of the genre are featured, among them, Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, John Singer Sargent, Diego Rivera, Sir Jacob Epstein, Antonio Berni, Alice Neel, Chuck Close, Robert Henri, Andy Warhol, Yasumasa Morimura, Oscar Muñoz, and Kehinde Wiley.

The works in About Face are organized into related groupings that examine both historical and contemporary notions of portraiture in a suite of small, elegant galleries that enhance the intimacy between artwork and visitor, portrait subject and viewer. Groupings suggest general concepts that unite the seven or eight varied works within each cluster: Capturing the Likeness; Exploring Attributes; Multiple Parts Accumulating to Complex Wholes; and How Artists Portray Themselves. Programs featuring the exhibition’s images on several social networking sites explore their common focus on constructing and communicating personae to a broad public. About Face gives the museum a lively voice in that current conversation and suggests that works of art still have much to teach us, even when placed within deceptively simple frameworks, like portraiture.
Thursday, 16 June 2011 01:00
During the past twenty-five years, Jack Huber, Dartmouth Class of 1963, and his wife, Russell, have built a distinguished collection of American art dating from roughly 1885 to 1920, an era characterized by dramatic social, cultural, and artistic change. Embracing Elegance, an exhibition co-organized by the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, features over thirty works from the collection, including pastels, drawings, watercolors, and paintings by such leading artists of the period as Cecilia Beaux, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Joseph DeCamp, Robert Henri, Lilla Cabot Perry, John Singer Sargent, Everett Shinn, John Sloan, Edmund Tarbell, John Henry Twachtman, and J. Alden Weir.

As a whole, the featured artists gravitated toward intimate, informal subjects, which they captured in a personally expressive manner influenced variously by the Aesthetic movement, impressionism, urban realism, and postimpressionism. Works by so-called Ashcan artists, including John Sloan and Everett Shinn, depict a mix of classes and races. Most of the works, however, reflect the more prevalent tendency to retreat from gritty, anxiety-provoking social issues. They celebrate instead beauty as found in timeless pastoral landscapes, poetic still lifes, and, especially, intimate images of beautiful women at ease. The latter trend can be seen in J. Alden Weir's emotive pastel of his wife, The Window Seat, 1889, and Thomas Wilmer Dewing's elegant White and Gold, circa 1894–1895. Introspective in mood and refined in taste, such works mirror more subtle shifts in cultural values, including a growing fascination with the life of the mind and an appreciation of art for art's sake, rather than for moralizing, didactic, or political purposes.
Thursday, 16 June 2011 00:48
The Salmagundi Club in Manhattan, one of the oldest art clubs in America, is featuring an exhibition on one of the country's great artist families. Wiggins, Wiggins & Wiggins brings together a selection of works by J. Carleton Wiggins (1848–1932), Guy C. Wiggins (1883–1962), and Guy A. Wiggins (b. 1920), all three of whom were—and Guy A. Wiggins remains—active members of the Salmagundi Club, with Carleton serving as President from 1911 to 1913.

"Each artist is an exemplar of his generation. Carleton's bucolic and atmospheric landscapes reflect the influence of the French Barbizon painters on the Hudson River School. Guy C.'s urban images illustrate the spirit of American Impressionism and its movement into art reflective of city life in the twentieth century. Guy A.'s still lifes and urban scenes are expressions of the New Realism and provide current evidence of this talented family's many achievements," writes Claudia H. Seymour, president, Salmagundi Club.
Thursday, 16 June 2011 00:35
The island of Nantucket, located south of Cape Cod off the coast of Massachusetts, boasts a rich maritime history and one of the highest concentrations of pre-Civil War structures in the United States. In 1894, the children and grandchildren of the great whaling generations of this island community founded the Nantucket Historical Association to protect and preserve the island’s threatened cultural and material legacy. A sense of urgency toward this goal was relayed by the NHA’s first secretary, Mary E. Starbuck, who wrote of the need to “secure all possible material relating to old Nantucket…before it is too late and these valuable mementoes are carried away from the island as trophies, or by progressive housewives ‘cast as rubbish to the void.’” Since that time, the NHA’s mission has focused on preserving the island’s treasures for posterity, mainly through donations from individuals and families. The collecting mission of the institution was greatly advanced when the Friends of the Nantucket Historical Association was founded in 1986 by a group of collectors who looked beyond the island’s boundaries to secure valuable and vulnerable treasures for posterity.
Thursday, 16 June 2011 00:18
It is often said that during the latter half of the twentieth century, Manhattan became the center of the art world. But that change happened by degrees, as new influences led to new movements, gradually producing an art that was truly American and that was born in New York City.

In paintings, photographs, sculpture, and works on paper, the exhibition New York, New York! The 20th Century examines the happy confrontation of art with the changing face of New York in the twentieth century.

Drawn from the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, it is astonishing how many great works in the Norton’s collection relate to New York City. Ralph Norton and his first wife, Elizabeth Calhoun Norton, began their core collection with American paintings and clearly had a penchant for the American scene. The exhibition contains some of Mr. Norton’s great masterpieces of American painting, including Manhattan-themed showstoppers by George Bellows, Ernest Lawson, Reginald Marsh, and Edward Hopper, along with works by the likes of Stuart Davis, Childe Hassam, John Marin, and Mark Tobey, acquired by later administrations. During a time in which so much was happening so quickly in the great metropolis, photography again and again captured those events and changes. Works by such photographers as Andreas Feininger, Paul Strand, and Edward Steichen, who captured the Flatiron building, the graceful Brooklyn Bridge, and Yankee Stadium when they were new and symbolic of the burgeoning metropolis, are juxtaposed with Jim MacMillan’s photograph of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The exhibition creates a compelling vision of the developing environment of Manhattan during the twentieth century, and, like the city itself, it pulsates with energy.
Saturday, 23 April 2011 00:53
Neoclassicism is the name given to the various classicizing styles that developed in Europe in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and which profoundly influenced the fine arts, decorative arts, and architecture. Artists and craftsmen found inspiration in the order, clarity, and reason of the art of ancient Greece and Rome and sought to re-create the spirit and forms of the classical world. From each of the different disciplines came something at once new and classically inspired.
Saturday, 23 April 2011 00:45
When the Northwest Territory opened in 1788, settlers, lured by inexpensive, abundant land, flooded west into what would become Ohio. The federal government had divided up the land into a number of sections, with parts intended as payment to Revolutionary War veterans and to the states of Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut that had ceded the land to the U.S. government, while some was sold to speculators; an arrangement that led to an organized, yet complex, pattern of settlement. Many settlers arrived in groups, creating communities with close cultural ties to their eastern origins, and while some settlers fit the frontier stereotypes (backwoods hunters, Indian fighters, and pugnacious drunks), others were educated and affluent. These ambitious men took their families west to build the next phase of the American empire and in their wake came craftsmen and merchants.
Saturday, 23 April 2011 00:42
Research on a group of related folk art portraits has yet to yield the identity of the artist. There are neither signed examples nor enough identified sitters within the group to help establish a geographic foundation to support an attribution. A recent addition to the group of known examples that can firmly be credited to this hand on a stylistic basis has been found, however, and opens up a new avenue for research.
Saturday, 23 April 2011 00:38
During the last seventy-five years, Piedmont North Carolina factories in towns such as Lexington, Thomasville, and Hickory have produced some of the most recognized fine wood furniture in the United States. Not as well known but equally significant, however, is the Piedmont’s much earlier heritage as a producer of high-quality late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century pieces. Upon arrival in North Carolina’s Piedmont, immigrant settlers took advantage of the abundant native walnut, cherry, poplar, and yellow pine trees to produce well-made, stylish furniture for their homes. This year the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) in Winston Salem, North Carolina, is celebrating the Piedmont’s early furniture-making history with a new exhibit that highlights pieces from its unparalleled collection of locally made early furniture.
Thursday, 21 April 2011 01:15
In his seminal monograph The Moravian Potters in North Carolina (1972) decorative arts scholar John Bivins used archaeological evidence, surviving artifacts, and the Moravians’ meticulous records to illuminate the lives and work of potters active in Bethabara and Salem.1 The bulk of his study centered on shop masters Gottfried Aust (1722–1788), who established the first pottery in Bethabara, and his former apprentice Rudolph Christ (1750–1833), who took over Aust’s pottery in 1789. In Bivins’ view, Aust was the archetypal immigrant craftsman, wedded to Old World modes of earthenware production and decoration, whereas Christ was an innovator who developed his own decorative vocabulary in slipware and experimented with the manufacture of refined creamware, stoneware, and faience.
Thursday, 21 April 2011 01:12
This year is the bicentennial of George Caleb Bingham’s (1811–1879) birth (Fig. 1). Born on March 20, 1811, in Virginia, Bingham came to central Missouri with his family in 1819.1 Living first in Franklin and then Arrow Rock, Bingham demonstrated an early ability with drawing. He followed a typical path of apprenticeship for young men of his generation, in his case, to cabinetmakers who also served as Methodist ministers. Although he had no formal training, by the early 1830s he was pursuing a career as a portraitist across Missouri. Frequent visits to—and later studios in—St. Louis exposed Bingham to a nascent art culture before his first trip to the East Coast in 1838, when his artistic ambitions inspired a trip that year to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and likely New York. He was a resident in Washington, D.C. between 1840 and 1844, and made occasional return visits to these artistic centers through the mid-1850s. After a stay in Düsseldorf, Germany, from 1856 to 1859, Bingham relocated to the Kansas City area where portraiture occupied most of his time until his death in 1879.
Thursday, 21 April 2011 01:09
From what appears to be just another expanse of rolling hills and vast meadows in the Hudson Valley region of upstate New York, rises a massive, long-limbed structure. Commanding in its enormity and graceful in its composition, Mark di Suvero’s (b. 1933) Pyramidian (Fig. 1) draws in any passerby’s attention to reveal a landscape peppered with sculptures. So well-integrated in the setting, The Storm King Art Center seems to spring forth from nowhere, just as intended.
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 01:54
This year marks the sesquicentennial of the fall of Fort Sumter and the start of the American Civil War (1861-1865). Oddly, the war coincided with the richest and most successful phase of the career of America’s most renowned nineteenth-century landscape painter, Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900).

Born into the family of an affluent businessman in Hartford, Connecticut, Church cultivated inborn sympathies for art and science, first as the prodigious student of Hudson River School founder Thomas Cole (1801-1848), then as a devotee of the natural history texts of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), the German naturalist who explored the equatorial New World at the turn of the nineteenth century. In 1853 and in 1857, Church followed the trail of Humboldt in Colombia and Ecuador. Back in his New York City studio, he fashioned such monumental vistas as The Heart of the Andes (1859; Metropolitan Museum of Art), from a small preparatory study (Fig. 1) based on sketches. Twelve thousand people paid an admission fee to see the dramatically framed and lit painting when it was first shown. Not content with the natural variety he found at the equator, Church hired a boat in 1859 and journeyed to near the Arctic Circle. From his sketches and drawings (Fig. 2) he produced on his return The Icebergs (1861; Dallas Museum of Fine Arts). To augment his income, Church often had his major works reproduced as engravings, such as the color lithograph of The Icebergs.
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 01:49
The essentials of childhood form us all. Even when we rebel against them, our thoughts, beliefs, dreams, and preferences are consequences of our birthplace and earliest years, and Edward Hopper (1882–1967) was no exception. His artistic personality was shaped by his roots in Nyack, New York, and the town and its environs helped contribute to the figure he would become. Nyack’s general history, topography, and architecture were critical to his early preoccupations and his later pursuits, and the particulars of his family’s own house at 82 North Broadway afforded him an ideal place to flourish. During the period he lived in Nyack, which lasted until 1910, when he rented his first known studio in Manhattan, Hopper began formulating the central themes of his art, those which distinguished him from everyone else, and were his and his alone.