Black History Month

Alison Saar (1956-)
Inheritance, 2003
Woodblock and chine collé, 81 x 59 cm.
Gift of the George D. and Frieda B. Abraham Foundation

Alison Saar (1956-)
Coup de Grace, 2012
Lithograph, 49 x 64 cm.
Gift of the Clarence A. Davis ‘48 Endowed Fund for the Visual Arts

African-American artists, like women artists or gay artists, often find themselves in the dubious position of representing a group with their work, whether or not it is their intent to do so. Saar tackles the issues of race directly while incorporating issues of gender.

Alison Saar was born in Los Angeles, California in 1956 and grew up in Laurel Canyon, California. Her parents were Betye Saar, a well-known African American artist, and Richard Saar, an art conservationist. She received a BA from Scripps College, Claremont, in 1978, having studied African and Caribbean art. She received an MFA from Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles in 1981. Her sculptures and installations explore themes of African cultural diaspora and spirituality, and her studies of Latin American, Caribbean and African art and religion have informed her work. Saar’s fascination with vernacular folk art and ability to build an oasis of beauty from cast‐off objects are evident in her sculptures and paintings. Saar’s highly personal, often life-sized sculptures are marked by their emotional candor, and by contrasting materials and messages that imbue her work with a high degree of cultural subtext. Alison Saar isn’t known first and foremost for her work in printmaking. The sculptor will frequently create post-sculptural studies of her 3D works, which is not common, but allows her to further meditate on the concepts she’s working with. For example, Saar’s work Inheritance is after a sculptural work by the same title, with very similar imagery of a young Atlas figure standing with a massive cloth bundle on her head.

The young girl carrying a large ball of white cotton cloth on her head is a portrait of the artist’s mother. When Betye was just four years old, her father called her to his deathbed to make a final request: would Betye promise to take care of her mother and her siblings when her daddy was gone? The enormous ball represents the weight of the world, making the young girl who carries it a “child Atlas.” Saar and her mother have traveled to Senegal together, where they saw children who do carry the weight of the world on their heads every day. Their observation of this painful situation recalled Betye’s childhood and suggested the concept for the piece.

Titled Coup, a related sculpture shows the seated figure of an African American woman with a long braid of hair attached to a pile of old luggage behind her. In her hands, she holds a pair of scissors, implying that she is about to rid herself of her baggage. Many who commented on this work saw in it an impending act of self-deliverance. Your baggage is who you are and what you have to negotiate in order to find ground for your subjectivity. The fantasy of cutting yourself off from it can never be realized. It would amount to a psychic coup de grâce. It exists as a fantasized possibility only to protect you from the harrowing awareness of its impossibility. Coup de Grace is the printed version of this same exploration. The ball of yarn relates it to the burden carried in Inheritance adding layers of the personal.

Thompson, Barbara, Meg Linton and Harryette Mullen. Alison Saar: Still. Otis College of Art and Design, 2012
“Alison Saar: Exalting Ambiguity.” By: O’Brien, John. Sculpture (Washington, D.C.), January/February 2007, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p28-31, 4p
“Reclaiming Histories: Betye and Alison Saar, Feminism, and the Representation of Black Womanhood.” By: Dallow, Jessica. Feminist Studies, Spring2004, Vol. 30 Issue 1, p74-113, 40p
“The color of art.”  S. Lawrence on curating Directions—Alison Saar. Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. By: Lawrence, Sidney. American Art, Spring97, Vol. 11, p2-9, 8p


Art of the Week

Camille Corot (1796-1875)
Souvenier d’Ostie, 1855
Cliché verre, 27 x 34 cm.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was born on July 26, 1786 in Paris. He grew up in a middle-class family in Rouen, where he was a draper’s apprentice. At the age of 26 he gave up his unloved job to pursue a career as an artist. In 1822 Corot took painting lessons from his successful contemporaries A.E. Michallon and Victor Bertin, who ran a school for landscape painting in the tradition of Poussins. 
During his studies under Bertin, Corot painted his first landscapes. When he traveled to Italy after his studies, he continued to perfect his skill of lending his pictures an unusual clarity and transparency. Having returned to Paris, he processed the impressions from his Italian trip, remaining untouched by the public arguments between Romantic and Classicist painters.
From 1831 Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot held regular and very successful exhibitions at the Paris salons. From the late 1940s he was in close contact with the painters of Barbizon, among whom he was particularly close to Daubigny. From 1850 various landscape painters gathered around Corot, as he was moving further away from an academic faithfulness to detail towards a more liberal style with a stronger sense of atmosphere. The ease in which he painted stems from his intensive studies on the effects of light, which are reflected in the very fine shades of his pictures, seeming to anticipate numerous Impressionist stylistic devices.
When Corot suffered from gout, he gradually had to give up landscape painting. Corot’s late phase was dominated by portraits of women, which he painted in a confident and liberal style.
On February 22, 1875 Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot died in Ville d’Avray.

Leymarie, Jean. Corot; biographical and critical study. [Geneva] Skira; [distributed in the U.S. by World Pub. Co., Cleveland, 1966] ND553 .C8 L43

Galassi, Peter. Corot in Italy: open-air painting and the classical-landscape tradition / New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Press, c1991. QUARTO ND553.C8 G245 1991

Cliché-verre: investigating the interstices. By: Hill, E. Afterimage, Summer 1981, Vol. 9, p18-22, 5p

Les campagnes de Corot au nord de Rome (1826-1827) By: JULLIEN, André; Jullien, Renée; Julien, A.; Julien, R.. Gazette des Beaux-Arts, May/June 1982, p179-202, 24p

Art of the Week

Chinese  Qing
Covered Dish with Multi-colored Floral Sprays, 1735-96. Reign of Qian Long (1711-99)
Celadon, 10 cm. diam.
Gift of Dr. J. Philip Keeve ‘48

Qian Long was the sixth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty, and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. The fourth son of the Yongzheng Emperor, he reigned officially from 11 October 1735 to 8 February 1796. On 8 February, he abdicated in favor of his son, the Jiaqing Emperor – a filial act in order not to reign longer than his grandfather, the illustrious Kangxi Emperor.  Despite his retirement, however, he retained ultimate power until his death in 1799. Although his early years saw the continuation of an era of prosperity in China, his final years saw troubles at home and abroad converge on the Qing Empire. The Qianlong Emperor was a major patron of the arts, seeing himself as an important “preserver and restorer” of Chinese culture. He had an insatiable appetite for collecting, and acquired much of China’s “great private collections” by any means necessary, and “reintegrated their treasures into the imperial collection.”

Pottery in this period is widely different, stretching the limits of what was possibly to make. It imitated everything previously done with all kinds of materials. Skilled craftsmen produced magnificent copies of earlier masterpieces. Overall floral scroll designs characterize the wares of this reign. The paste is dead white. Chinese porcelain became a standard article in wide use in Europe. Huge amounts of dinnerware (dishes, soup tureens, huge flats dishes, salad bowls, etc.) were exported to Europe in shapes and with decorations designed in Europe, often in a “Chinese” style – called Chinoiserie.

Lee, Sherman E. A history of Far Eastern art / Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Prentice Hall, 1994. PERRY QUARTO N7336 .L43 1994

Du Boulay, Anthony. Christie’s pictorial history of Chinese ceramics / Oxford : Phaidon : Christie’s, 1984. QUARTO NK4165 .D78 1984

Ceramics in daily life at the Qing court. / For the Imperial court: Qing porcelain from the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art By: Scott, Rosemary E.. The Magazine Antiques (1971), January 1998, Vol. 153, p162-169, 8p

CONSUMMATE IMAGES: Emperor Qianlong’s Vision of the ‘Ideal’ Kiln. By: Peichin, Yu. Orientations, Nov/Dec2011, Vol. 42 Issue 8, p80-88, 9p

The Colleges’ Mummy

Egyptian Late Period
Mummy and Coffin of Daughter of Official, 320 b.c.e.
Painted wood
Gift of Mrs. John Archer Silver, wife of Professor Silver

This mummy and coffin were presented to Hobart College in 1896 by Mrs. John Archer Silver, wife of a professor of history at the Colleges. The mummy came to Professor Silver through Frederick Courtland Penfield, consul-general in Cairo. It was discovered in a cemetery associated with a Ptolomaic temple at Akhmin on the eastern bank of the Nile, northeast of Abydos, in 1894.

Ptolemy I distinguished himself as a trustworthy troop commander under Alexander and during the council at Babylon, that followed Alexander’s death, he proposed that the provinces of the huge empire be divided among the generals. He became governor of Egypt then its king and secured Egypt’s borders against external enemies. He won over the Egyptians by restoring their temples, which had been destroyed by the Persians and made gifts to the Egyptian gods as well as to the Egyptian nobility and priesthood. He also founded the Museum (Mouseion), a common workplace for scholars and artists, and established the famous library at Alexandria. Ptolemy II constructed the famous lighthouse on the island of Pharos, off Alexandria, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The last pharaoh was a woman – the famous Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator. Her attempts to maintain Egypt’s independence and renew its glory were doomed. All the great civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean world were now submitting to the indisputable power of Rome.

During the Late Period, the reemergence of a centralized royal tradition that interacted with the relatively decentralized network inhertited from the Third Intermediate Period created a rich artistic atmosphere. Stylistic patterns suggest a complex interplay of influences less hierarchically determined by the temporal power of the king than in previous periods, with the result that the choices of patrons and artists are more recognizable. A taste for realistic modeling of features of nonroyal persons emerges, while attention to the naturalistic modeling of flesh and bone in human and animal depictions reaches new heights. Mortuary rituals continued to be observed in more or less the same way they always had been, and the religious beliefs of Egypt were maintained.

One of the most important objects purchased, whether for royalty or other elites, for a tomb was the coffin. Its purpose from the earliest times was the protection of the body, preserving it from deterioration or mutilation. A sarcophagus was also usually provided to hold the coffin in the tomb. In their preparation for rebirth after death, particularly later in the New Kingdom, the wealthy ancient Egyptians might prepare themselves by purchasing a sarcophagus (possessor of life), a coffin (the bound mummy, or “that which begets”), and an inner coffin or mummy board (the egg). In fact, coffins and coffin walls were decorated from a very early date. The anthropoid coffin became standard with a very distinctive style during the Second Intermediate period. Like mummification, they also provided an image, or qed (form), of the deceased that could house not only his corpse, but also his spirits. In the early 19th Dynasty, a new type of mummy board and lid was used. It depicted the deceased as a living person, dressed in festive garments, with the hands of men placed on the thighs, while those of women were pressed to the breast and holding a decorative plant. Some of these lids were fashioned in stone for the anthropomorphic sarcophagi of high officials. During the Late Period, from about the 26th Dynasty and later, wooden coffins have similar shapes. The flat lower part of the coffin serves merely as a support, not a container for the mummy, because it was now covered by a much more convex lid.

Smith, Grafton Elliot.  Egyptian Mummies. London, New York: Kegan Paul International, 1991. DT62 .M7 S6 1991

El Mahdy, Christine. Mummies, Myth and Magic in Ancient Egypt. London, New

New Acquisition

Romero, Frank (b.1941, U.S.)
Arrest of the Paleteros, 2010
32 color serigraph, 77 x 117 cm.
Art Intern Purchase, Friends of Houghton-Paula Kalenik ’71
ARTH 204 Art Collection Internship: Acquisition
The students in this course have selected a work to add to the Hobart and William Smith Art Collection. Thank you to Dylan Bennett ’19, Sarah MacKechnie ’19, Tiffani Pan ’19, and Xin Xu ’18.

The premise was “In the time since the beginning of the 2016 American presidential election, Donald Trump has continued to shift America’s focus towards his exclusionary, violent, and nationalistic view for a “Greater America.” He has targeted many marginalized groups in America from Muslim-Americans to the LGBTQ+ community, but one of his earliest and most frequent victims is Latinx-Americans whom he chooses to label as “rapists, murderers, criminals,” and distinctly “un-American.” With the recent act to end the DACA agreement, Donald Trump has shown that his view for America excludes the rich history and foundational influence of Latinx-Americans and those seeking to become Latinx-Americans. We choose to focus on acquiring art of Latinx-American perspectives to emphasize the allyship of Americans of all decent and of Latinx immigrants who seek to become American citizens. Latinx-American perspectives cannot and will not be silenced by a demagogic president or those who support his violent policies or worldview. We choose to stand with Latinx-Americans here at HWS, around the United States, and around the world by making their perspectives and stories a fundamental part of the Davis Gallery Collection.”

Frank Romero grew up in the Hispanic, Asian, and Jewish communities of East Los Angeles. He began painting when he was five years old and as a teenager attended LA’s Otis Art Institute, one of the best art schools in the nation. Romero did not think of himself as a Chicano until he began to work with three other artists in an informal group known as Los Four. Los Four and other Hispanic artists throughout the West used wall murals, graffiti, and street theater to protest America’s involvement in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The police response to antiwar demonstrations in Los Angeles was part of a larger pattern of violence against the minority communities that Romero experienced throughout his life. It takes years for the artist to think through and to paint these episodes in the life of his community, because, he says, “That stuff is hard for me to do, it hurts, it’s frightening” (Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2002 [online]). Romero’s brightly colored paintings celebrate the Los Angeles culture of lowriders and “rascuache,” the art of making something beautiful out of the ordinary.

Romero’s print Arrest of the Paleteros is a serigraph reproduction of his 1996 painting depicting the ice-cream men, being arrested in Echo Park for not having vendor permits. The print was complete at Modern Multiples in Los Angeles under the guidance of Richard Duardo. In Frank Romero’s 1996 painting The Arrest of the Paleteros, towering palm trees reach into an evening sky streaked with pink and reflect off the placid surface of Echo Park Lake, a sight that cuts to the core of Los Angeles’ awe-inspiring beauty. But in the foreground, there’s chaos. Framed in a cop car’s headlights, four ice cream vendors reach into the air — echoing the palm trees in the background — as police officers train their weapons on them and two small children holding paletas in their tiny fists. Off to the left, a balloon vendor is pursued on foot by a cop with his billy club drawn. The balloon man is wearing an almost cartoonish outfit and his mouth is agape, which seems to further emphasize the absurdity of LAPD’s excessively zealous crackdown on unlicensed vendors in the early ’90s.

A Conversation with Frank Romero. / interview By: Chattopadhyay, Collette. Artweek, September 3 1992, Vol. 23, p23-25, 3p

Art with a Chicano accent. / Historical and contemporary Chicano Art in Los Angeles By: Durland, Steven; Burnham, Linda Frye; MacAdams, Lewis. High Performance, 1986, Vol. 9 Issue 3, p40-57, 16p

East Side Stories: Freeways and Their Portraits in Chicano Los Angeles. By: Avila, Eric. Landscape Journal, 2007, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p83-97, 15p; DOI: 10.3368/lj.26.1.83

Today is the birth anniversary of Mark Tobey

In our collections, you will find:

Mark Tobey (1890-1976)
Vibrating Surface, 1974
Etching on BFK Rives paper, 66 x 50 cm.
Gift of Kenneth Halsband ‘88

Mark Tobey (1890-1976)
Grand Parade, 1974
Lithograph on Arches paper, 66 x 50 cm.
Gift of Kenneth Halsband ‘88

The American painter, poet and composer Mark Tobey was born in Centerville, Wisconsin on December 11, 1890. As of 1906 he studies watercolor and oil painting at the Art Institute in Chicago. Afterwards he works as a model drawer in Chicago and as of 1911 in New York. In 1918 Mark Tobey converts to Bahaism, this Persian belief seems to have a great impact on both his life and his art.
From 1922 to 1925 he works as an art teacher at the Cornish School in Seattle. He is very interested in European Cubism and East Asian painting and calligraphy, he collects the art of the Tlinkit and Haida Indians, especially textiles and wooden sculptures.
In 1925 Mark Tobey travels to Europe and stays in Paris for some time, he also visits Barcelona, Athens, Istanbul and Beirut, goes onto a pilgrimage to the holy site Bahá’í in Haifa, and also visits Akka to learn more about Persian and Arabian calligraphy. 
His first one-man show takes places in Chicago in 1928. From 1930 to 1937 he teaches at the Dartington Hall School in Devonshire, England. His journeys play an important role in Tobey’s life. In 1932 he goes to Mexico and in 1934 to China and Japan – where he deals with the teachings and paintings of Zen, the Hai-Ku poetry and also calligraphy in a monastery in Kyoto.
The effects of these journeys can be observed in his works. The artist returns to the USA in 1937 because of the changing political situation in Europe. He lives in Seattle until 1960. He makes first music compositions as of 1938. In 1944 the Willard Gallery in New York shows his “White Writings” pictures for the first time, this exhibition marks his artistic breakthrough. Tobey covers the image carrier with many layers of white or a similarly light color – this is the beginning of the “all over” painting, a style that is also applied by other artists such as Jackson Pollock. Mark Tobey’s works become more and more abstract and comply with the artist’s meditative and contemplative lifestyle.
Mark Tobey’s works are shown in the 1959 and 1964 documenta exhibitions in Kassel and in numerous other exhibitions all over the world. He belongs to the most important precursors of the American “Abstract Expressionism”. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington shows the first retrospective in 1974.
Mark Tobey moves to Basel in 1960 where he dies on April 24, 1976.

Tobey produced most of his prints in the years just before his death, from 1973-1975. These include a number of lithographs and etchings.

Seitz, William Chapin. Mark Tobey. New York, Museum of Modern Art in
collaboration with The Cleveland Museum of Art and The Art Institute of

  • Chicago; distributed by Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y. [1962] ND237 .T56 S4
    • Tobey, Mark. Tribute to Mark Tobey. Washington : Published for the National Collection of Fine Arts by the Smithsonian Institution Press: [For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off.], 1974. ND237 .T56 S58 1974

Art of the Week

Eliphalet M. Brown, Jr. (1816-86, U.S.)
View of Geneva, Ontario County, N. Y., Taken from the Foot of Seneca Lake in July 1836, 1800-99. After Henry Walton.
Lithograph, 34 x 53 cm.
Gift of Eugenie Havemeyer in memory of Horace Havemeyer III ‘64

Brown was an accomplished daguerreotypist, lithographer and artist. In 1846, he was listed in business with James Sydney Brown, a portrait painter in New York City. In 1851, Brown worked with Charles Severyn, a lithographer, and then with Currier and Ives starting in 1852. While working as a lithographer for Currier and Ives, he was chosen as the daguerreotypist to accompany Commodore Perry’s expedition to Japan. Brown was personally selected by Perry. Apparently, his skills as an artist overcame his rather weak experience as a daguerreotypist. Brown reportedly took more than 400 photographic images during the two-year expedition. After the trip to Japan, Brown remained in the Navy. He served during the Civil War and earned an ensign’s commission. He retired from the navy in 1875 and died in 1886 in Manhattan.

This lithograph was obviously a later rendition of an earlier work by Henry Walton who practiced in the area.

Henry Walton worked for the lithography firm of Stone & Clark in Ithaca, New York beginning in 1936. He is known primarily for his lithographs of upstate New York towns made between 1836 and 1850. Walton was also a portrait and miniature painter most often working in watercolor. In 1849 he joined the Gold Rush to California. There is some discrepancy on Walton’s birth and death dates. Falk’s “Who Was Who in American Art” has the dates 1804-1865 though it does note many different possible dates and sources. According to Falk, Walton left California and settled in Michigan in 1857. Hughes’ “Artist’s in California” has the dates 1821-1873 and states that Walton resided in San Francisco until his death.

The Colleges also have:
Henry Walton (fl.1836-1850)
Hobart Free College, Geneva, N.Y., 1836-37
Lithograph, 18 x 28 cm
Jones, Leigh Rehner. Artist of Ithaca : Henry Walton and his odyssey / [Ithaca, N.Y.] : Office of Publications Services, Cornell University, c1988. N6537.W25 A4 1988
Henry Walton, American artist. By: REHNER, Leigh. Antiques (1952), March 1970, Vol. 97, p414-417, 4p