Considering the Collections

I was working on a text of Henry Moore drawings late last week and decided to share with you a Henry Moore lithography from the Collections.

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Open Form I, 1979
Lithograph, 50 x 59 cm.
Gift of Kenneth L. Halsband ‘88
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2012 /

Henry Spencer Moore was born on July 30, 1898, in Castleford, Yorkshire. Despite an early desire to become a sculptor, Moore began his career as a teacher in Castleford. After military service in World War I he attended Leeds School of Art on an ex-serviceman’s grant. In 1921 he won a Royal Exhibition Scholarship to study sculpture at the Royal Academy of Art in London. Moore became interested in the Mexican, Egyptian, and African sculpture he saw at the British Museum. He was appointed Instructor of Sculpture at the Royal Academy in 1924, a post he held for the next seven years. A Royal Academy traveling scholarship allowed Moore to visit Italy in 1925; there he saw the frescoes of Giotto and Masaccio and the late sculpture of Michelangelo. Moore’s first solo show of sculpture was held at the Warren Gallery, London, in 1928. In the 1930s Moore was a member of Unit One, a group of advanced artists organized by Paul Nash, and was a close friend of Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, and the critic Herbert Read. From 1932 to 1939 he taught at the Chelsea School of Art. He was an important force in the English Surrealist movement, although he was not entirely committed to its doctrines; Moore participated in the International Surrealist Exhibition at the New Burlington Galleries, London, in 1936. In 1940 Moore was appointed an official war artist and was commissioned by the War Artists Advisory Committee to execute drawings of life in underground bomb shelters. From 1940 to 1943 the artist concentrated almost entirely on drawing. His first retrospective took place at Temple Newsam, Leeds, in 1941. In 1943 he received a commission from the Church of St. Matthew, Northampton, to carve a Madonna and Child; this sculpture was the first in an important series of family-group sculptures. Moore was given his first major retrospective abroad by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1946. He won the International Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale of 1948. Moore executed several important public commissions in the 1950s, among them Reclining Figure, 1956–58, for the UNESCO Building in Paris. In 1963 the artist was awarded the British Order of Merit. In 1978 an exhibition of his work organized by the Arts Council of Great Britain was held at the Serpentine in London, at which time he gave many of his sculptures to the Tate Gallery, London. Moore died in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, on August 31, 1986. Henry Moore was already established as the world’s leading sculptor when he turned to printmaking in his ’60s, and over the next 20 years it became an important part of his work.

“At home with Henry Moore”. By: Simmons, Rosemary. Printmaking Today, Summer 2010, Vol. 19 Issue 2, p6-8, 3p

Introducing the Collections 8

Chryssa (1933-)
Gates to Time Square, 3, 1980
Silkscreen, 102 x 77 cm.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84

Varda Chryssa moved from Greece, where she was born, to America, training at the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco, before settling in New York in 1955. The city’s hectic, blaring visual culture and the rampant consumerism of post war prosperity fed into her work mainly sculpture, but some paintings and printmaking. Arrow Homage to Times Square 1958. Empire State Collection, Albany, New York is a huge sign made out of rows of small aluminum bars. Having apprenticed herself to a commercial sign maker, Chryssa began to make pieces in which a rainbow of lurid colors and a jumble of letters evoked the city’s assault on the senses and its speeding pulse. In Five Variations on the Ampersand 1966, Museum of Modern Art, New York neon was enclosed in grey Plexiglas to give the effect of impending night. In the monumental Gates to Times Square 1964-6, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo Chryssa vividly represented the chaotic visual culture of capitalism through a mixture of metal, plastic and neon. Paintings and prints playing with fonts, letters, numbers and layouts developed from the pages of newspapers and magazines. Chryssa has also represented New York’s long history as home to immigrants in a series of works about Chinatown. An immigrant herself, she was included along with Lee Bontecou in the exhibition Americans at the Museum of Modern Art in 1963. Chryssa’s work can be expressive and poetic. Clytemnestra 1967, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC, originally a part of Gates to Times Square, represents, in neon, the anguished scream of the character in Euripides’s drama when she learns that her daughter is to be sacrificed.

Jonas Wood H’99

Jonas Wood, 1999 B.A. Hobart and William Smith Colleges
An alumnus success story with representation in the Collections of Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Hairy Head, 2002. Charcoal and collage on paper, 45 x 48 cm. Gallery purchase, The Friends of Houghton House-Paula Kalenik ’71. hws-w-14

Self Portrait (2 Noses), 2002. Charcoal on paper, 71 x 56 cm. Gallery purchase, The Friends of Houghton House-Paula Kalenik ’71. hws-w-15

Jonas Wood was born in 1977 in Boston. Wood’s paintings and works on paper display overlapping textures and disorienting compressions of space; the intimate settings invoke the work of forebears such as Matisse and Hockney, yet his distorted verdant rooms possess an affectless cut-out appearance that is all his own. In drawings, collages, watercolors, and paintings, outlines of pots and vases frame landscape and interior imagery. Drawn and painted vessels set against neutral backgrounds contain a sprawling green golf course; a coral reef with exotic fish; a lush garden; a painter’s studio, all scenes that end abruptly at the parameters of the object.
Permanent collections include Museum of Modern Art, New York; Saatchi Gallery, London; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Selected solo exhibitions include Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2010); “Jonas Wood: Clippings,” Lever House, New York (2013–14); “Jonas Wood: Shelf Still Life,” High Line Art (2014); and LAXART Facade (2014).
Wood currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

On the occasion of Jonas Wood’s most recent solo show at the Anton Kern Gallery in New York City, Roberta Smith of the New York Times wrote: “…his works negotiate an uneasy truce among the abstract, the representational, the photographic and the just plain weird.”
Stacks of bird cages stored in a corner, their tiny metal bars forming a rippling kaleidoscope. A static-filled television in front of a geometric landscape of lines and masks. A seemingly silent painting of the artist and a hypnotist that on closer inspection reveals a thunderous, tipping vortex of color and pattern, all of it hinging on the hypnotist’s eyes.
For Wood, these are the landscapes of his life that, along with his paintings of sports figures and abstract plants, have garnered him critical and popular acclaim as well as 23 group shows and 11 solo exhibits, including one at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.
“I collect different images, make a lot of drawings and take photographs,” Wood explains. “All of these things turn into collages and eventually paintings. What I’m doing is an exploration of painting. It’s representational, but by experimenting with shapes, colors and forms, I’m approaching it in an abstract way.”
It’s this tense line between reality and perception that sets Wood apart.
From a family that is equal parts scientific and artistic – his grandfather was both a physician and an artist, his father is an architect and his mother taught drama, Wood’s work and life is grounded in an appreciation for both.
Wood chose Hobart because it offered him the ability to take courses in premed and art. “Hobart was the only school I applied to,” he says. “I wanted a liberal arts college on the East Coast. I visited, loved it and that was pretty much it.”
Wood eventually majored in psychology and interned with a dyslexia clinic while abroad in Bath, England. His senior year, he took an independent study with Associate Professor of Art Nick Ruth. “I asked Nick if he would teach me how to paint and he agreed to it.”
Wood set up a studio in the basement of Bampton House and, after graduation, continued to paint. He spent one year in Boston working at the McLean Hospital psychiatric center at Harvard University, thinking the experience would help in his applications to grad school for psychology. Eventually, though, he decided to pursue an MFA. “Nick really encouraged me and it was through his connections with the faculty at the University of Washington that I was accepted to their MFA program.”
Wood recalls being told during grad school that the odds of any MFA candidate being able to make a living through art were about one in 10. “But once I started painting full time, I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
His success is the result of obvious talent combined with an aggressive work ethic. “I’m in the studio seven days a week,” says Wood, who is married to the artist Shio Kusaka. “Art isn’t a nine-to-five job. It starts when it starts – sometimes at two in the morning, and ends when it ends. It’s a monastic life to a certain extent and it involves a lot of sacrifice. But it is also very rewarding.”
By Catherine Williams

So Why Would You Want to Start a College Art Museum…

Is there a real need for a tiny museum at a small, liberal arts college in a small city almost no one has heard of? Why would it interest anyone besides past and present students and faculty? These question in a recent article on Hyperallergic started me thinking once again about an HWS art museum.

An HWS art museum would welcome our community and beyond to Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Geneva.

The Colleges’ Collections is a rich resource containing objects relevant to a wide range of interests and tastes and our mission is to allow others to enjoy them. The Collections of Hobart and William Smith Colleges contain many original works of art in media such as drawing, painting, prints, sculpture, photography, and decorative objects.  The Collections are particularly strong in works from the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries with emerging collections of non-Western art. With a museum we could increase the range of our holdings.

The Collections would provide students, faculty, scholars, and a broad regional community the opportunity to study and enjoy original works of art. I think the college’s art collection had educational potential and we are only realizing that potential in a minor way through the Davis Gallery. The Davis Gallery has a broader mission than displaying the Collections of Hobart and William Smith Colleges – bringing a diversity of contemporary art to our campus. A smart use of slender resources can achieve positive cultural change on a small college campus and in a small city.

Over half of the works in the Collections would pass muster in many museums. Even minor works could be used as springboards for original research — or at least for lively conversations among diverse participants. The museum would highlight objects from the permanent collection as well as special, changing exhibitions. With the permanent collection and special exhibitions as the primary focus, the museum would offer a wide array of public programs and events designed to educate, inform, inspire, and delight people of all ages.

The HWS art museum’s extensive Collections would serve as a vital curricular resource for faculty and students across many disciplines. Investigating and analyzing visual materials as part of class work encourages deep critical thinking, sparks curiosity about new areas of study, and provides a focal point for lively group discussion. The works of art in our Collections are rich examples of creative expression, as well as primary-source documents with many layers to uncover.

The college’s primary goal in creating a museum would be to store and display the art collection so that it has educational value. The museum serves a mix of collection management and education purposes. The museum would also reach out to a broader, off-campus public by putting a public face to our liberal arts mission. It’s not everyday a new art museum opens around here. We would provide an experience of art that people just can’t get from lectures, books or online images.

Conservation Report

We recently have had a print restored by West Lake Conservators in Skaneateles, New York.

Piranesi, Giovanni Battista (1720-78 )
The Ponte Lugano su l’Anione, from Vedute di Roma (H.68), 1763.
Etching, 61 x 82 cm.
Gift of Michael Bogin, Professor of Art

The conservators did pre- and post- photographic documentation, testing for media sensitivity. They used soft grated eraser crumbs and sponge erasers, front and reverse to remove surface grime and soot. Then they removed accretions and fly specks mechanically with a micro-scalpel. A rigid Gellan gum was applied to stained areas along the edge to reduce visual distraction, however this treatment did not result in significant stain reduction. Areas of tide lines along the edges, and darker spots within the image areas, were toned with dry pigments to minimalized visual staining.