Wishing You a Lovely Winter Break

In 1986, Mr. and Mrs. Chester J. Straub, parents of Christopher Straub ’87, gave the Colleges two wonderful photography portfolios: Color Landscapes I and II. This photograph is from those portfolios. It is a terrific winter image from New Mexico, but could as easily be from this area of New York.

Paul Caponigro (1932-)
Apple Orchard, Tesuque, New Mexico, 1981
Cibachrome, 51 x 61 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Chester J. Straub P’87 (Christopher Straub)
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Paul Caponigro is one of our century’s foremost landscape photographers. He was born in Boston in 1932. After attending public schools, he went to Boston University to study piano, and in 1952 discovered photography. In 1953, he was drafted and stationed in San Francisco as a photographer where he met and studied with Benjamin Chin. Between the years of 1955 and 1957, he studied with Minor White in Rochester, New York, where he was introduced to various philosophical disciplines. In 1958, he had his first one-man exhibition at George Eastman House. Two years later, he began teaching photography at Boston University. In 1962, he published his first portfolio of original prints. In 1966, he was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and received another in 1975. In 1966, he traveled to Europe, in particular Ireland and England, in order to study the great stone architectural creations there. He received another grant, this time from the Arts Council of Great Britain to photograph in Northern Ireland. Caponigro’s technical genius is apparent in each image and is proof of his printing philosophy: “Technique must serve and not dominate a craft which requires creative movement.” His hope is that his viewers will allow the prints to speak for themselves. “One might become aware of suggestions whispered by the interaction of tonalities within each print. It is a silent realm worth exploring.”
Caponigro, Paul, The wise silence : photographs. Boston : New York Graphic Society Books in association with the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, c1983.

See you in January!

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A Tribute to Jasper Johns

With the addition of a new Jasper Johns print to the Hobart and William Smith Collections, I thought a tribute to the artist would be appropriate. Our later work, After Holbein 1993, changes and yet retains stylistic elements from our earlier work, Crosshatch 1977. The almost twenty years between these prints provides us with an interesting peak into the thought and art processes of an amazing artist.

Johns, Jasper (1930-)
Crosshatch, 1977.
Screen print on Patapar printing parchment, 38 x 38 cm.
ULAE S.13.
Art Intern purchase, Art Collection Fund with the help of Edward T. Pollack ‘55
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Johns, Jasper (1930-)
After Holbein, 1993.
Lithograph, 63 x 47 cm.
Gift of the George D. and Freida B. Abraham Foundation
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Jasper Johns was born in 1930 in Augusta, Georgia, and raised in South Carolina. He began drawing as a young child, and from the age of five knew he wanted to be an artist. For three semesters he attended the University of South Carolina at Columbia, where his art teachers urged him to move to New York, which he did in late 1948. There he saw numerous exhibitions and attended the Parsons School of Design for a semester. After serving two years in the army during the Korean War, stationed in South Carolina and Sendai, Japan, he returned to New York in 1953. He soon became friends with the artist Robert Rauschenberg (born 1925), also a Southerner, and with the composer John Cage and the choreographer Merce Cunningham.

Together with Rauschenberg and several Abstract Expressionist painters of the previous generation, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Barnett Newman, Johns is one of most significant and influential American painters of the twentieth century. He also ranks with Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, Munch, and Picasso as one of the greatest printmakers of any era. In addition, he makes many drawings—unique works on paper, usually based on a painting he has previously painted—and he has created an unusual body of sculptural objects.

Johns’ early mature work, of the mid- to late 1950s, invented a new style that helped to engender a number of subsequent art movements, among them Pop, Minimal, and Conceptual art. The new style has usually been understood to be coolly antithetical to the expressionistic gestural abstraction of the previous generation. This is partly because, while Johns’ painting extended the allover compositional techniques of Abstract Expressionism, his use of these techniques stresses conscious control rather than spontaneity.

Johns’ early style is perfectly exemplified by the lush reticence of the large monochrome White Flag of 1955. This painting was preceded by a red, white, and blue version, Flag (1954–55; Museum of Modern Art, New York), and followed by numerous drawings and prints of flags in various mediums, including the elegant oil on paper Flag (1957). In 1958, Johns painted Three Flags (Whitney Museum of Art, New York), in which three canvases are superimposed on one another in what appears to be reverse perspective, projecting toward the viewer.
The American flag subject is typical of Johns’ use of quotidian imagery in the mid- to late 1950s. As he explained, the imagery derives from “things the mind already knows,” utterly familiar icons such as flags, targets, stenciled numbers, ale cans, and, slightly later, maps of the U.S.

It has been suggested that the American flag in Johns’ work is an autobiographical reference, because a military hero after whom he was named, Sergeant William Jasper, raised the flag in a brave action during the Revolutionary War. Because a flag is a flat object, it may signify flatness or the relative lack of depth in much modernist painting. The flag may of course function as an emblem of the United States and may in turn connote American art, Senator Joseph McCarthy, or the Vietnam War, depending on the date of Johns’ use of the image, the date of the viewer’s experience of it, or the nationality of the viewer. Or the flag may connote none of these things. Used in Johns’ recent work, for example, The Seasons (Summer), an intaglio print of 1987, it seems inescapably to refer to his own art. In other words, the meaning of the flag in Johns’ art suggests the extent to which the “meaning” of this subject matter may be fluid and open to continual reinterpretation.

As Johns became well known—and perhaps as he realized his audience could be relied upon to study his new work—his subjects with a demonstrable prior existence expanded. In addition to popular icons, Johns chose images that he identified in interviews as things he had seen—for example, a pattern of flagstones he glimpsed on a wall while driving. Still later, the “things the mind already knows” became details from famous works of art, such as the Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald (1475/80–1528), which Johns began to trace onto his work in 1981. Throughout his career, Johns has included in most of his art certain marks and shapes that clearly display their derivation from factual, unimagined things in the world, including handprints and footprints, casts of parts of the body, or stamps made from objects found in his studio, such as the rim of a tin can.
Nan Rosenthal
Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/john/hd_john.htm

Crosshatch, 1977
In his work from 1972 to 1983, Jasper Johns used a distinct arrangement of crosshatched marks, traditionally considered a graphic method of adding depth and volume to an image or conveying the illusion of light in space. John first glimpsed this pattern on a passing car, recalling: “I only saw it for a second, but knew immediately that I was going to use it. It had all the qualities that interest me—literalness, repetitiveness, an obsessive quality, order with dumbness, and the possibility of a complete lack of meaning.” Emphasizing the flatness of the painting, Johns’s cross-hatching is gestural without being emotive; in this sense, the technique extends his larger critique of overtly expressionist models of painting. Johns forged a new model of painterly abstraction, using a schema that is repeatable and ordered but not strictly geometric or reductive.
Quick, Jennifer. Jasper Johns: In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print. Hatje Cantz, 2012.

After Holbein, 1993
Six printings were made from six aluminum plates on an offset lithographic press.
Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497– between 7 October and 29 November 1543) was a German artist and printmaker who worked in a Northern Renaissance style. He is best known as one of the greatest portraitists of the 16th century. He also produced religious art, satire, and Reformation propaganda, and made a significant contribution to the history of book design. By 1535, he was King’s Painter to King Henry VIII. In this role, he produced not only portraits and festive decorations but designs for jewelry, plate, and other precious objects. His portraits of the royal family and nobles are a record of the court in the years when Henry was asserting his supremacy over the English church. See: Portrait of Henry VIII, c. 1536. Oil and tempera on oak, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid.
After Holbein is derived from the 1993 encaustic on canvas that is in the personal collection of Jasper Johns. The portrait is based on Hans Holbein the Younger’s watercolor-drawing Portrait of a Young Nobleman Holding a Lemur (c1541-42). Johns’ portrait is similar to Holbein’s approach in that it is clinical rather than flattering. Johns lithograph and the painting show only traces of the actual persona and is likeness that has faded into a silhouette and he uses lines to suggest the persons’ actual physical presence. Johns wanted to reflect the shadow of a young man that is faded in the original Holbein drawing, and transfer this outline to his own drawing and to the lithograph. The shape of the man, the plumed hat evoke a young, robust fellow, yet the faceless and nameless image suggest someone who has vanished before he achieves potential.

Student Acquisition

Jasper Johns (1930-)
Crosshatch, 1977
Screen print on Patapar printing parchment, 38 x 38 cm.
Art Intern Purchase, Art Collection Fund with the help of Edward T. Pollack ‘55
hws-j-28

Jasper Johns was born in Augusta, Georgia, in 1930, and grew up in small towns in South Carolina. Having shown a childhood affinity for drawing, he nurtured interest in art and poetry during his early education, at the University of South California. After a brief period at art school in New York, he served in the army in 1951-53, in South Carolina, and then in Japan. Jasper Johns moved to New York in 1949 and began paintings influenced by abstract expressionism. Introduced to Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, and Merce Cunningham in the mid 1950’s, his work changed radically. The first of many one-person exhibitions at Leo Castelli Gallery (1958) led to his inclusion the following year in the Museum of Modern Art’s landmark 16 Americans. One-person exhibitions of his paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture have been organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art (1977), the National Gallery of Art 1990), and the Museum of Modern Art (1986, 1996).

Jasper Johns stands as an important bridge between abstract expressionism and pop and minimal art. Printmaking has long been an important part of the process for the artist. He first worked at ULAE in 1960. Initially, lithography suited Johns and enabled him to create print versions of iconic depiction of flags, maps, and targets that filled his paintings, such as Target, 1960. In 1967, Johns expanded his repertoire to etching and created Target I and Light Bulb. In 1971, Johns became the first artist at ULAE to use the handfed offset lithographic press, resulting in Decoy- an image realized in printmaking before it was made in drawing or painting. Since then, Johns has become a master of both media and continues making prints with subjects as varied as the seasons, creative reinterpretations of Holbein, and curious faces and features combined with everyday objects.

In his work from 1972 to 1983, Jasper Johns used a distinct arrangement of crosshatched marks, traditionally considered a graphic method of adding depth and volume to an image or conveying the illusion of light in space. John first glimpsed this pattern on a passing car, recalling: “I only saw it for a second, but knew immediately that I was going to use it. It had all the qualities that interest me—literalness, repetitiveness, an obsessive quality, order with dumbness, and the possibility of a complete lack of meaning.” Emphasizing the flatness of the painting, Johns’s cross-hatching is gestural without being emotive; in this sense, the technique extends his larger critique of overtly expressionist models of painting. Johns forged a new model of painterly abstraction, using a schema that is repeatable and ordered but not strictly geometric or reductive.

Quick, Jennifer. Jasper Johns: In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print. Hatje Cantz, 2012.

This print was chosen as a piece for the Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Collections by Jacques Lane ’16 and Savannah Reed ’16 as part of ARTH 204: Art Internship-Acquisition in Fall 2015.

Momentous Gift

Arthur Dove (1880-1946)
Happy Clamshell, 1938
Watercolor and ink on paper, 13 x 18 cm.
Gift of Richard A. Scudamore ’55
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Arthur Dove, whose abstractions from nature would influence many younger American artists, was born in Canandaigua, New York, in 1880. Dove moved with his family in 1882 to Geneva, New York, and even as a child, began experimenting with painting. Following his parents’ wishes, he began pre-law study in 1901 at Cornell University. However, he enrolled in art courses as well, and after graduating in 1903, worked as an illustrator in New York. During an eighteen-month trip to Europe (1907-09), Dove met Max Weber and Alfred Maurer, and soon after his return to New York he met Alfred Stieglitz, who was to be his dealer and advisor for the rest of his life. In 1909 he moved to Westport, Connecticut, where he painted and kept a farm. In his first one-person exhibition, held at Stieglitz’s Gallery 291 in 1912, Dove established himself as one of America’s most prolific and inventive artists working with abstraction. Dove continued to paint abstractions until his death in 1946.

Dove’s career began around 1903. In 1910 or 1911, after studying in Paris, he became the first American artist to produce a truly abstract painting, around the same time as Kandinsky. But he didn’t pursue watercolor until the late 1920’s, taking the forms, as usual, mostly from nature but sometimes from man-made shapes like boats and houses.

His work in this medium was stimulated by admiration for Georgia O’Keeffe’s earlier watercolors and also by the light of the Long Island Sound area, where he had moved from Manhattan in 1924.

Using forms more and more as visual equivalents for feelings, he produced gems like Happy Clam Shell (1938): from a facelike center of pale blue with a dark green “mouth,” the shell spreads concentrically in sharply outlined but irregular rings of two greens and a white.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/17/arts/design/17dove.html?_r=0

D.B. Balken, Arthur Dove: Watercolors, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2006, pp. 45, 84, pl. 27, illustrated.
“Arthur Dove: Watercolors at the Alexandre Gallery,” New York Times, June 17, 2006.
D.B. Balken, Dove/O’Keeffe: Circles of Influence, exhibition catalogue, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 2009, n.p., pl. 39, illustrated.

This week is the birthday anniversary of Aristide Maillol

In the Collections, you will find:

Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)
Odes d’Horace, 1939
Woodcut, 13 x 13 cm.
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Aristide Maillol was born December 8, 1861 in Banyuls-sur-Mer, Roussillon. In 1881, at the age of 20, he moved to Paris to study art and was accepted in 1885 into the École des Beaux-Arts, after numerous application attempts. At the École, he studied under Jean-Léon Gérome and Alexandre Cabanel. Technical skill and aesthetic quality were of the utmost importance to his academic teachers, and Maillol’s foray into tapestries was marked by a remarkable degree of both, gaining him recognition for revitalizing the art form in France. He opened a tapestry workshop in his hometown of Banyuls in 1893, operating it until 1895 when he turned his focus to small terracotta sculptures. During this time he was suggested by Paul Gauguin, a contemporary and friend, to join the artist group “Nabis,” an aesthetic school focused on an anti-naturalist, symbolist pictorial language. Maillol’s tapestries, early paintings, and sketches exemplify this aesthetic in their strongly contoured, simplified color shapes. 

Almost all of Maillol’s work is focused on the female body in stable, classical forms. An antiquities enthusiast, Maillol produced drawings, lithographs, and woodcuts to illustrate antique literature. While academic in approach, the figurative qualities of Maillol’s larger work laid the groundwork for the ultimate simplification of form evident in Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore.

Maillol’s 1912 monument to Cézanne remains an important public commission, as he was often called the “Cézanne of sculpture” in his smoothing the path to abstraction for sculptors to come. He also constructed numerous World War I memorials. Much of his work is located in the Musee Maillol in Paris as well as at his home near Baynuls, which has been turned into a small museum. In the United States, his work can be seen in the grand staircase of the Metropolitan Opera House of New York, as well as the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art of New York. Maillol died on September 27, 1944 in Banyuls as the result of an automobile accident. Woodcut for Les Odes d’Horace, Published by Phillipe Gonin, Paris, 1939. Printed on handmade paper.