Still Life after Thanksgiving

With the end of Thanksgiving, I have chosen a simple still life by an American artist from our Collections to contemplate the abundance of the recent holiday.

Anderson, Lennart (1928-)
Still Life with Mason Jar Lid, 1952-53.
Oil on canvas, 25 x 36 cm.

Lennart Anderson was born in 1928.  He studied at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cranbrook Academy, and at the Art Students League under Edwin Dickinson. He is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and is an Associate of the American Academy of Design.  His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Tiffany Foundation Grant, and the Rome Prize. He has had solo exhibitions at many galleries.  He was an art instructor for many years in the New York area, having taught at Yale, Columbia and Princeton Universities, at Pratt Institute, Skowhegan School, Art Students League, and the New York Studio School.  He is now a Distinguished Professor at Brooklyn College.

For many years his work consisted of large, ambitious neoclassical figure compositions.  Later his paintings were on a smaller, more informal scale: a few portraits, some lovely landscapes and a lot of still lifes.  He gave careful serious attention to these traditional problems, and in the process he invested each of his objects with grace and presence.

The classical definition of a still life – a work of art depicting inanimate, typically commonplace objects that are either natural (food, flowers or game) or man-made (glasses, books, vases and other collectibles) conveys little about the rich associations inherent to this genre. In the academic tradition of Western art, still life occupied the lowest position in the hierarchy of the arts, which recognized history painting, portraiture and landscape painting as superior. It was disparaged critically and theoretically as mere copying that lacked artistic imagination and placed no intellectural demands on the viewer. We posit that nothing could be further from the truth for this category of art, which hovers between mimesis and symbolism, and in which artistic skill and fantasy are tantamount to its success. Still lifes explore the wealth of aesthetic and conceptual artistic strategies that challenge the view of still life as simply an art of imitation. Still life continues to be an important vehicle of expression.

On a day like today, French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born

November 24, 1864. Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa (24 November 1864 – 9 September 1901) was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, and illustrator, whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded an œuvre of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern and sometimes decadent life of those times. In this image: A man passes in front of two posters by French artist Toulouse Lautrec, belonging to Brussels’ Musée d’Ixelles, which were shown for the first time in Spain under the title ‘Toulouse Lautrec.

In our Collections, you will find:
Henri Toulouse Lautrec (1864-1901)
Divan Japonais, 1893
Crayon, ink, lithograph on paper, 81 x 60 cm.
Gift of Theodore C. Max ‘50

Divan Japonais was one of the many café-concerts in late nineteenth-century Paris frequented by Toulouse-Lautrec. His poster advertising the nightspot features two of his favorite Montmartre stars, Yvette Guilbert and Jane Avril. Here, though, Guilbert is a spectator, not a performer, as she sits in the foreground with édouard Dujardin, a dandyish writer and nightclub habitué. In the upper left corner, on stage, is the headless body of Avril, recognizable by her trademark long black gloves and gaunt physique.

One Hundred Years Ago

I thought I would pull three pieces from the Collections which were created in 1915 with very diverse artistic styles and concepts. 1915 was a momentous year: World War I was underway with its horrifying changes in warfare; the one millionth Ford automobile rolled off the assembly line; the Armenian genocide occurred; and D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, an epic about the Civil War, was released, changing the structural principles of filmmaking.

Arms, John Taylor (1887-1953)
Sunlight and Shadow. 1915.
Etching, 23 x 18 cm.
Gift of David F. Wright ’72.

Hassam Childe (1859-1935)
The Writing Desk, 1915.
Etching, 32 x 24 cm.
Gift of Robert North in memory of Marion de Mauriac North ‘32.

Kertész, André (1893-1985)
A Hungarian Memoir, Forced March to the Front between Lonie and Mitulen, Poland, 19 July, 1915. Gelatin silver, 20 x 25 cm.
Loan of Lewis W. Siegel ‘70.

John Taylor Arms began his education at Princeton University. There he got involved with the engineering program, but after two years decided to transfer to MIT’s architecture program. He worked as an architect for many years and finally became a partner in his own architectural firm. His interest in etching began when his wife had bought him a kit to use as a hobby; this hobby soon turned into a passion, and Arms began etching his way through New York, focusing on the Brooklyn Bridge and cityscapes. After exhausting his interest in New York City scenes, Arms focused more interest on the other side of the Atlantic. He took many trips to Europe and completed series of gargoyles, French cathedrals, Italian cathedrals and Venetian cityscapes. Throughout his artistic life, Arms dedicated himself to educating the public and sparking interest in graphic design, specifically etching and printmaking. He sought to associate the physical structure of a building with the sensation a viewer felt standing in front of a massive structure. This cohesive style draws the viewer’s eye to examine an Arms piece from multiple perspectives.

Childe Hassam was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, on October 17, 1855. His father was a successful Boston businessman who was ruined financially in the great fire of 1872. Hassam left high school without graduating and ended up working for a Boston wood engraver. This is a portrait of Mrs. Hassam at Holley House, Cos Cob, Connecticut. Recognition came early in both the U.S. and abroad. The fruition came about in 1897 when he help establish the Ten American Painters, an exhibiting group that included many of the finest painters of the day: Frank W. Bensen, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Dewing, John Twachtman and J. Alden Weir.But it was well after establishing himself as America’s pre-eminent Impressionist painter that he turned to etching, in 1915 at the age of 56. This was the year he created The Writing Desk. This impression of The Writing Desk has a light airy quality. The movement provided by the flowery surroundings and fine strokes of etching provides a fascinating counterpoint to Mrs. Hassam’s thoughtful, contemplative mood.

André Kertész was born Andor Kertész (changed his first name to André at the age of 21) in Hungary, 1984. He bought his first camera and made his first photograph while working as a clerk at the Budapest stock exchange in 1912. After years of amateur snapshot photography in his native Hungary, he moved to Paris in 1925 and began a career as a freelance photographer.
While Poland did not exist as an independent state during World War I, its geographical position between the fighting powers had meant that much fighting and terrific human and material losses occurred on the Polish lands between 1914 and 1918. When World War I started, Polish territory, split during partitions between Austria-Hungary, German Empire and Russian Empire, became the scene of much of the operations of the Eastern Front of World War I.

So, we have an architect turned print artist but still viewing the world as an architect; an artist struggling to learn his craft and influenced by the Impressionists; and a photographer viewing the tremendous upheaval of his world during a cataclysmic war. Arms gives us a Romantic view of old an old European storefront using a contrast of deep shadow and bright light. Hassam’s work is a quiet interior executed in quick and vigorous lines. The photograph by Kertész is documentary, but replete with composition, shading and atmosphere. I leave you to draw your own conclusions about art and 1915.

Italian Giorgio de Chirico

Giorgio de Chirico (July 10, 1888 – November 20, 1978) was a Greek-born Italian artist. In the years before World War I, he founded the scuola metafisica art movement, which profoundly influenced the surrealists. After 1919, he became interested in traditional painting techniques, and worked in a neoclassical or neo-Baroque style, while frequently revisiting the metaphysical themes of his earlier work. In this image: Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico stands in front of one of his paintings in his apartment in Rome, Italy on Feb. 12, 1955.

In the Collections of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, you will find two works by de Chirico:

Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
Ritorno d’Autumno, 1969
Lithograph on GG paper, 46 x 59 cm.
Gift of Robert North in memory of Marion de Mauriac North ‘32

Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
Self-portrait, 1968
Lithograph, 34 x 25 cm.

New additions to the Collections

Indian Mughal Bowl, 1800-1899. Brass, 24 x 33 cm. hws-in-1

Indian Mughal Table Tray with stand, 1800-1899.Brass and wood, 77 cm diam. hws-in-2

Indian Mughal Table Tray with stand, 1800-1899.Brass and wood, 76 cm diam. hws-in-3

Indian Mughal Small rectangular tray, 1800-1899.Brass, 74 x 24 cm. hws-in-4

Indian Mughal Large rectangular tray, 1800-1899.Brass, 90 x 23 cm. hws-in-5

Indian Mughal Small round tray, 1800-1899.Brass, 43 cm diam. hws-in-6

Indian Mughal Large round tray, 1800-1899.Brass, 43 cm diam. hws-in-9

Indian Mughal Jar with stopper, 1800-1899. Brass, 35 x 18 cm. hws-in-7

Indian Mughal Vase, 1800-1899. Brass, 34 x 24 cm. hws-in-8

Up through the seventeenth century, the Mughal emperors had relied on a complex network of local princes to administer their lands. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, these princes were forced to switch allegiance to the British East India Company, which was rapidly replacing the Mughals as the main power in northern India. By pledging their support to the British, the princes were able to retain their titles and status. The Mughals managed to remain in power in much the same fashion until 1858, when rule of India passed from the East India Company to the queen of England. After the government of India was taken over by the British monarchy, these princely states were restructured into three ranks according to size and power, and were accorded different levels of jurisdiction over their populations.

Ronald Gonzalez: Mind Things

Ronald Gonzalez: Mind Things
November 20 through December 18, 2015
Reception: Friday, November 20 | 6 – 8 p.m. Gallery talk at 6:30 p.m.
(Gallery closed November 25-28)

Ronald Gonzalez was born in Johnson City, NY in 1952, where he currently resides and teaches as Professor of Sculpture at Binghamton University. Extraordinarily prolific and inventive, over the last 30 years, Gonzalez has produced thousands of figures that range in size from tiny, singular, and multiple works to self portraits, life size figurative tableaus and site specific large scale indoor and outdoor sculptural installations that feature groups of human-like figures often made from organic materials and found objects. The artists work has been exhibited throughout the United States and Internationally and has been the focus of many solo and groups exhibitions, articles and reviews. His work is represented in numerous private and public collections including the Wadsworth Athenaeum, in Hartford Connecticut., the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY, the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, Florida International Museum of Art, Miami, Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College, NY, The Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute of Art and the Henry Ford Collection, Gross Point, Michigan.


One day, a great head will emerge from the shadows as an old black shoe and the hole in that shoe will become a deformed gaping mouth taking in the last of things into its darkness.

I prefer things with all the marks of desolation and ruin to create empathies. For me, sculpture begins with the human body as the supreme object of mystery and imagination. My affinity is for the tradition of transformation; to seek and find is not enough. The lessons of nature always bring me back to the transitoriness of things. In art, the collector amasses materials in the face of death in order to preserve expression. My work is rooted in the unity of metaphoric anatomies and measured by the beauty of presence. I search for the blended energies of forms reinvented, reconfigured and reassembled in space as part and whole. These In-animates have been ravaged by possession. As entities, they conceal lived experience as commonplace and transitory. Like us, things are tempered and shaped by their environment from hands that have conducted memories, histories, analogies and resemblances into them. These figures stand as imaginary beings of real life existence, a repertoire of decaying personas reborn as things that I can see.

Ronald Gonzalez, Binghamton, 2015

New for the Collections

Utagawa Kuniyasu (1794-1832)
Untitled, 1800-32
Woodblock, 52 x 34 cm

Utagawa Kuniyasu (1794–1832) was a Japanese artist best known for his prints in the ukiyo-e style as a member of the Utagawa school. He was born in 1794 and had the given name Yasugorō. His teacher was the Utagawa school master Toyokuni. Kuniyasu’s earliest surviving work is his illustrations to the book Hanashi no momochidori. He illustrated about a hundred books throughout his career, and designed hundreds of stand-alone prints of beauties and actors. Kuniyasu also used the art names Ippōsai and Nishikawa Yasunobu. He died at age 39 in the seventh month of 1832. Works of his continued to be issued following his death, which may suggest they were popular.