Helen Levitt

There is currently an exhibition of the photographs of Helen Levitt at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York: Helen Levitt: In The Street, February 6 – May 8, 2016. It is well worth a visit. We have two Helen Levitt photographs in the Collections of the Colleges, but this is a wider view of her work.

Presented by M+T Bank For more than seventy years, Helen Levitt used her camera to capture fresh and unstudied views of everyday life in the streets of New York City. Levitt’s photographs, in both black and white and color, document neighborhood matriarchs on their front stoops, pedestrians negotiating New York’s busy sidewalks, and boisterous children at play. In her work, Levitt successfully captures people of every age, race and class, without attempting to impose social commentary. The exhibition features a range of photographs spanning Levitt’s long career, and includes scenes shot in New York City, New Hampshire and Mexico. Helen Levitt: In the Streetis organized by Telfair Museums, Savannah, Georgia. This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of Mrs. Robert O. Levitt.

New Acquisition

We have purchased a print from the current exhibition, Audubon to Warhol: Two Centuries of American Art on Paper,  in The Davis Gallery at Houghton House. This print is from Edward T. Pollack Fine Arts. Mr. Pollack is a distinguished alumnus of Hobart College, class of 1955.

Dine, Jim (b.1935)
The Cellist, 1976
Etching with hand-coloring, 107 x 76 cm.
Gallery purchase, Art Collection Fund
hws-d-42

Jim Dine was born in 1935 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He studied at night at the Art Academy of Cincinnati during his senior year of high school and then attended the University of Cincinnati, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Ohio University, Athens, from which he received his BFA in 1957. Dine moved to New York in 1959 and soon became a pioneer of the Happenings movement together with Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, and Robert Whitman. He exhibited at the Judson Gallery, New York, in 1958 and 1959, and his first solo show took place at the Reuben Gallery, New York, in 1960.
Dine is closely associated with the development of Pop art in the early 1960s. Frequently he affixed everyday objects, such as tools, rope, shoes, articles of clothing, and even a bathroom sink, to his canvases. Characteristically, these objects were Dine’s personal possessions. This autobiographical content was evident in Dine’s early Crash series of 1959–60 and appeared as well in subsequent recurrent themes and images, such as the Palettes, Hearts, and bathrobe Self-Portraits. He later added gates, trees, and Venus to his repertoire of recurring motifs. Dine has also made a number of three-dimensional works and environments, and is well known for his drawings and prints. He has written and illustrated several books of poetry. In 1965, Dine was a guest lecturer at Yale University, New Haven, and artist-in-residence at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio. He was a visiting critic at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, in 1966. From 1967 to 1971, he and his family lived in London. Dine has been given solo shows in museums in Europe and the United States. In 1970, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, organized a major retrospective of his work, and in 1978 the Museum of Modern Art, New York, presented a retrospective of his etchings. Since then, Dine has been the subject of major retrospectives at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (1984–85), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (1999), and National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (2004). Dine lives in New York, Paris, and Walla Walla, Washington.

From the exhibition catalog:
Dine, Jim (born 1935). The Cellist.Williams College 203. Etching with hand-coloring, 1976. Edition of 30 (there were a further 16 proofs for the artist and others). Signed, numbered 23/30 and dated in pencil. From the suite of eight etchings titled “Eight Sheets from an Undefined Novel.” Published by Pyramid Arts, Tampa, FL., each of the prints is etched on a copper plate 24 x 20 inches, 610 x 508 mm., and printed on a sheet of German etching paper 42 x 30 inches, 1067 x 762 mm. In excellent condition.
Though usually classified as a member of the Pop-Art movement, Dine’s skills and achievements go far beyond the classification. He is a master of graphic media, and a strong and interesting painter.

 

Introducing the Collections – Donald Judd

The Judd Foundation has announced a reprint of Donald Judd: Complete Writings 1959-1975. I thought this occasion an opportunity to introduce you to the sixteen Judd prints in the Collections of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. These works are subtle and minimal so take some time to contemplate them. The minute variations between one box and another is meditative and intellectually satisfying.

Donald Judd (1928-94)
Untitled Suite, 1978
Etching, 76 x 88 cm.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84

Born Donald Clarence Judd on June 3, 1928, in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, the artist served in the United States Army in Korea, then attended The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia; the Art Students League, New York; and Columbia University, New York, where he received a B.S. in Philosophy, cum laude, in 1953. Judd’s first solo exhibition was in 1957 at the Panoras Gallery, New York, the same year he began graduate studies in art history at Columbia University. Over the next decade, Judd worked as a critic for ARTnews, Arts Magazine, and Art International; his subsequent theoretical writings on art and exhibition practices would prove to be some of his most important and lasting legacies. During his lifetime, major exhibitions of Judd’s work occurred at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1968, 1988); The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1975); Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (1987); and The Saint Louis Art Museum (1991), among other museum exhibitions. Judd received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Swedish Institute, and the John Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, among others. He married dancer Julie Finch in 1964 (later divorced) and had two children, son Flavin Starbuck Judd in 1968 and daughter Rainer Yingling Judd in 1970. While still maintaining his building in New York at 101 Spring Street, Judd moved to Marfa, Texas, in 1972, where he would live and work until his death on February 12, 1994.

“Well, I am not interested in the kind of expression that you have when you paint a painting with brush strokes. It’s all right, but it’s already done and I want to do something new. I didn’t want to get into something which is played out and narrow. I want to do as I like, invent my own interests.” Donald Judd

In His Own Words: Edward T. Pollack H’55

On the day of the opening of Audubon to Warhol: Two Centuries of American Art on Paper, I thought there was no better way to introduce the exhibition than to quote Ed Pollack from the exhibition catalog.

I bought my first “collectible” when I was a freshman at Hobart College in the fall of 1951. While walking on South Main Street, I came upon an auction of household goods being held on the lawn of a house. For fifty cents I bought a pair of deer antlers on a plaque. In the dormitories nails in the walls were prohibited; we had to use hooks which held to the walls with an adhesive glue. I hung my new acquisition on the wall above my bed. It stayed there for about a week before it fell on me while I was asleep. That ended my collecting for a long time.

I recall going into an art gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts when I was a law student and seeing an exhibition of prints by the German artist Käthe Kollwitz. I was surprised that they didn’t seem to be particularly expensive for work by an artist whose work I had only seen before in museums. Whether they were beyond my possible budget, or whether I hadn’t yet come to the understanding that an ordinary person could, or should, actually own work by a world famous artist, or some combination of both, I don’t remember, but I didn’t give serious consideration to the idea of buying and owning anything in the show.

Years passed. I graduated from school, was drafted into the army, came out and worked first in a law office in New York City, and afterward as an attorney at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). An internal move placed my cubicle next to the office of a senior attorney who had on his walls, instead of the usual diplomas and certificates, actual pictures. I knocked, went in, asked, admired, and was invited to dinner on the spot. Julius and Shirley Pinelas lived in Forest Hills, New York in an apartment hung floor to ceiling with art, much of it by the German Expressionists, almost all of it prints. Before I left, I had bought a picture off the wall for $175.00. It is an etching by Otto Dix from a 1920s portfolio called Zirkus (Circus), and it depicts a perform- er called Suleika, das Tatowierte Wunder (Suleika, the Tattooed Wonder). I still have it; its value is now about 100 times what I paid for it 50 years ago. From that point, and with Julius’s guidance, I began to buy pictures.

More years passed; I moved to Boston, still with HUD. I became involved in running an antiques shop, and put a few boxes of books I had into the store. These began to sell, while the antiques sat on the shelves. I bought more and they sold too. When the store closed, I had a lot of books. I started to go to antiquarian book fairs, and concluded that I had material as good as the general run of what I was seeing at them, so I joined the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Antiquarian Booksellers and began to exhibit at their shows. I gravitated to books about art and artists, and became known as a specialist. Eventually I joined the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) and started to do their shows. In the early 1990s bookselling moved to the internet, shops began to close, and the business became very different, and in many ways more difficult. I began to take prints along with my regular stock to the book shows. When they began to sell better than the books, I thought I might be on to something, so I began to buy more and more art. This change of focus really escalated after I sold my Boston condominium and had some money to spend. I started to do print fairs along with the book shows. I joined the Inter- national Fine Print Dealers Association. At this time I did both my book business and my art business out of my house on Cape Cod. Then I began to do some business with an art gallery in Portland, Maine. I would travel up there periodically, and eventually allowed myself to be convinced that it would be a good idea to have an art gallery there. It was not a good idea, but moving to Portland was. The gallery is called A FINE THING, but might better have been called “A Folly of Old Age.”

As an art dealer I specialize in works on paper: Fine Prints, including etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, screenprints and the like, drawings, photographs, and posters. There may be an occasional painting, sculpture, piece of pottery or other object, mostly from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. I also collect for myself, outside of my business. Some things come to me as purchases for my business and either I become attached to them, or they to me, and they become part of what I consider my personal collection. Some things that I buy for myself become merchandise; others, where my connection to the artist is personal, stay in the personal collection.

For this show, I have included works that are part of the inventory of Edward T. Pollack Fine Arts and works that are part of my personal collection. Much of the latter consists of work by artists with whom I am personally friendly, or whose work I particularly respect even if I don’t know the artist. We have hung these works separately to show this distinction, but I would emphasize that it is an amorphous and somewhat artificial separation.

The theme of the show is American works on paper created from about 1820 to the present. Beginning with Audubon, Cassatt and Whistler, the show encompasses early twentieth century masters such as Reginald Marsh, John Sloan and Rockwell Kent, Social Realists such as Raphael Soyer, Joeph Hirsch and Isabel Bishop, modernists of the mid-century such as Alexander Calder, Gabor Peterdi, Mauricio Lasansky and Karl Schrag, and on to contemporary artists like Jim Dine, Claes Oldenberg, and Andy Warhol.

The works explore the various print media – etching, lithography, woodcut, and screen- printing, as well as drawing and photography. There are some items which don’t conform in that they are not on paper such as the sculpture by Bisbee or the painting by Tooker. Some of the items are included to display technical differences or progressions such as the preparatory drawing, the copper etching plate and the final etching of Thomas Nason’s print Maine Islands, or the drawing and lithograph versions of Joseph Hirsch’s Monument. There has been some attempt to cover the various art “movements” of the period such as Social Realism and Modernism, and I have tried to include well recognized names as well as those not so well known. Similarly, I have included work by artists who were, or are, women, African-American, and gay or lesbian, and work by artists who emigrated to America from elsewhere. Though these qualities are pointed out in the descriptive text or the comments thereon, I consider all of these people to be “artists” without the need of any identity qualifiers, and this is true even in the case of those artists whose subject mat- ter primarily is consistent with an identity qualifier For example, although John Wilson’s subjects are usually African-American people, he nevertheless stands as a great American artist because of the quality of the work, and I think that more and more he will be so recognized.

Finally, it should be clear that this is not intended to be a comprehensive survey of American Art on paper; rather it is a selection from a subjectively assembled portion of what might be available or that ought to be included, limited by personal interests and taste as well as by budget.

Edward T. Pollack H’55