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

New Gift

We are pleased to announce an anonymous gift of significant Inuit art from a collector. The gift includes three prints and sixty-five carvings by modern Inuit artists. The majority are signed and certified by the Government of Canada. The artworks include animals, drummers, hunters, Sednas and transformations. Malaya Akulukjuk, Ohito Ashoona, Robert Davidson, Davidee Itulu, Arnold Kayutak, Tukiki Manomie, Norval Morrisseau, Mary Okheena, Levi Oumaluk, Nuna Parr, and Mosesie Pootoogook are among the artists.

The early works of Inuit art were small and essentially narrative: illustrations of family life, often based upon the intimacy of living in the close quarters of igloos and tents; depictions of hunting on the land that reflected their deep respect and understanding for the animal world, recognizing them a s companions, foes and equals; representations that offered insights into their spiritual beliefs, a complex and often dark world with fantastic beings. Above all, the fact that Inuit live in a harsh environment they make easier with a well-developed sense of humor is immediately apparent in their work.

The variety and quality of Inuit art showcases to the world that Inuit are passionate about sharing their love of their culture and the land that has given them so much.   Inuit art comes in so many forms and styles vary from community to community and artist to artist.  Getting deep into Inuit art is beyond the scope of this site but we’ll take a look at the various forms and offer you further resources to further your interest.

The most well-known form of Inuit art is likely Inuit sculptures, but Inuit art offers, lithographs and printmaking, soft sculptures and dolls, tapestries, embroidery and beading, drawings and painting and so on.  Sculptures are carved from bone, antlers, tusks or ivory, and different types of stone.  Over fifty years ago Inuit printmaking was introduced and spread to different communities but some of the most noted came from the Cape Dorset co-operative. Intricate beadwork is another beautiful form of art that takes a great deal of time and skill along with the talent to create beautiful wearable art.  Dolls started from scraps of fur designed to pass the time and entertain children has grown into an art form of its own.

Pictured are a few selections from the collection.

Aboriginal voices: Amerindian, Inuit, and Sami theater. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, c1992.
Inuit women artists: voices from Cape Dorset. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre ; Hull, Quebec : Canadian Museum of Civilization ; Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Things made by Inuit. Québec: Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec, c1980.
Arctic vision: art of the Canadian Inuit. / Dayton Museum of Natural History, Ohio; traveling exhibit By: Lipton, Barbara. Archaeology, January/February 1985, Vol. 38, p54-57, 4p
Beauty from a cold world. By: Companiotte, John. Art & Antiques, November 2000, Vol. 23 Issue 11, p104-109, 6p
Inuit Art and the Limits of Authenticity. By: Root, Deborah. Inuit Art Quarterly, Summer2008, Vol. 23 Issue 2, p18-26, 9p
Inuit Art: Markers of Cultural Resilience. By: Igloliorte, Heather. Inuit Art Quarterly, Spring/Summer2010, Vol. 25 Issue 1/2, p4-11, 8p
New Artists, New Media, New Techniques. By: Mitchell, Marybelle. Inuit Art Quarterly, Spring2011, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p19-23, 5p
Our Land: Contemporary Art from the Arctic. By: Kramer, Karen. American Indian Art Magazine, Autumn2006, Vol. 31 Issue 4, p84-93, 10p
Sharing Power. By: Mitchell, Marybelle. Inuit Art Quarterly, Spring2011, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p27-31, 5p
State Support of the Art. By: Mitchell, Marybelle. Inuit Art Quarterly, Spring2011, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p33-36, 4p
Tools, Training, Quarrying. By: Mitchell, Marybelle. Inuit Art Quarterly, Spring2011, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p38-43, 6p

Today is the birth anniversary of James Brooks

James Brooks was born on October 18, 1906, in Saint Louis, Missouri, and moved with his family to Dallas in 1916. He studied art at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and, after moving to New York in 1926, took night classes at the Art Students League. Like many other Abstract Expressionists, Brooks painted murals for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project in the late 1930s and early 1940s. His best-known project was a mural titled Flight (1940–42) at the International Marine Terminal building at LaGuardia Airport. This vibrant, monumental work—the largest of the WPA murals—measures 12 feet high and 237 feet long and depicts the history of flying, from early mythology to the latest innovations, in a clean, Social Realist style.

From 1942 to 1945, Brooks served as a combat artist with the U.S. Army in the Middle East and returned to New York in 1946, at the height of what would later be termed the Abstract Expressionist movement. An inveterate risk taker, he soon abandoned figuration for abstraction. He reconnected with Jackson Pollock, a friend from the WPA days. Brooks not only took over their Eighth Street studio when Pollock and his wife, artist Lee Krasner, moved to Long Island, but also credited Pollock with encouraging him to try a more gestural style.

During the late 1940s, Brooks’s aesthetic evolved from a loose derivation of Cubism to a moodier, more atmospheric style. In the summer of 1947, Brooks had a breakthrough. He was painting on paper, and glued the paper onto heavy cloth for archival purposes. He noticed that the paste he used to attach the paper to the cloth bled through to the side he was painting on. From then on he would start by working on the cloth and then switch to the front of the painting, combining accidents with deliberate choices in an approach that he used for several years. In the 1960s, Brooks shifted styles again, building compositions out of larger, bolder, and simpler forms.

Formally considered an Abstract Expressionist, James Brooks produced bright, dense works marked by their vibrating tension between spontaneous form and controlled gesture. “My painting starts with a complication on the canvas surface, done with as much spontaneity and as little memory as possible. This then exists as the subject…At some undetermined point the subject becomes the object, existing independently as a painting.”

In the Collections, we have:
James Brooks (1906-92)
Eastern, 1982
Lithograph on Somerset paper, 77 x 57 cm.
Gift of Kenneth L. Halsband ‘88

Hunter, Sam. James Brooks. Praeger, 1963

Today is the birth annivesary of Childe Hassam

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. As an artist, his formal studies were begun at the Boston Art Club (1878) and later continued at the Academie Julian in Paris (1886-1889). He was greatly influenced by Louis Boulanger and Jules Joseph Lefebvre. He attended drawing classes at the Lowell Institute, a division of MIT, and was a member of the Boston Art Club. The early portion of his artistic career were devoted to illustrations and watercolors. At the age of 23 Hassam was exhibiting publicly and had his first solo exhibition, of watercolors, at the Williams and Everett Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts in 1892. From this time forward, Hassam was committed to the life of a professional painter. Recognition came early in both the U.S. and abroad. Hassam was extremely active in the social and technical areas of the artistic community. In 1890, he, and several others, founded the New York Water Color Club. He also joined the American Water Color Society and shortly thereafter joined the Players Club and the Society of American Artists. The fruition of this entrepreneurial fervor came about in 1897 when he helped 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.

Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Church at Old Lyme, 1924
Etching, 35 x 31 cm.
Gift of Robert North in memory of Marion de Mauriac North ‘32

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

This is a portrait of Mrs. Hassam at Holley House, Cos Cob Connecticut. Hassam worked as a wood engraver early in his career, before his critical second trip to Europe in 1885. 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.

Weinberg, H. Barbara (Helene Barbara), Childe Hassam, American impressionist / New York : Metropolitan Museum of Art ; New Haven : Yale University Press, c2004
“Childe Hassam, American Impressionist.” By: Weinberg, H. Barbara. American Art Review, Jul/Aug2004, Vol. 16 Issue 4, p118-176
“The Prints of Childe Hassam.” / Exhibit By: Denker, Eric; Cooper, Herbert L.. American Art Review, May/June 2003, Vol. 15 Issue 3, p92-95

Art of the Week

Kara Walker (b.1969)
Boo-Hoo, 2000
Linocut on Arches paper, 102 x 52 cm.
Gallery purchase, The Friends of Houghton House-Paula Kalenik ’71

Kara Walker is best known for her room-size tableaux of black cut-paper silhouettes that examine the underbelly of America’s racial and gender tensions. Her works often address such highly charged themes as power, repression, history, race, and sexuality.

Born in Stockton, California, Walker moved to the South at age 13 when her father, artist Larry Walker, accepted a position at Georgia State University and her family relocated to Stone Mountain, a suburb of Atlanta. Focusing on painting and printmaking in college, she received her BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991 and her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. Walker was included in the 1997 Biennial exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Later that year, at the age of 27, she became the youngest recipient of the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grant, which launched a public controversy around her work. In 2002 she was chosen to represent the United States in the São Paulo Biennial in Brazil. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is included in the collections of major museums worldwide. The 2007 Walker Art Center–organized exhibition Kara Walker: My Complement, My Oppressor, My Enemy, My Love is the artist’s first full-scale U.S. museum survey. Walker currently lives in New York, where she is a professor of visual arts in the MFA program at Columbia University.

“Walker’s unwieldy imagination is fixated with race in the starkest and most American of terms, black and white, as they were forged in the ante-bellum South, a time not so long ago in a galaxy called here.”

Boo-Hoo is a print in which we see a woman with an Afro, hoop earrings, and a full skirt, whose lips and eyes resemble blackface, weeping copiously as she gingerly holds a whip and snake, both turned in towards herself. Why is the woman crying? Not so much because of the torture she undergoes, which takes on a humorous and cartoonish tone, not least because she inflicts it on herself. Following Butler, I suggest that we read this print as an attempt to picture a subject for whom melancholia has been structural.

In this reading, the whip and the snake that the woman holds can be read not just as objects which she uses to effect her own torture, or mementos of the time when slavery was taking place, but as metaphors for the stereotypical images of blackness that Walker uses in her work. For the black subject who sees the way that society sees her in these images, they are weapons that continue to sting long after whips have ceased to do so. The deep cultural ambivalence about these images, whose display is considered unequivocally problematic by some, and encouraged by others because it reveals America ‘s true racism, means that they come up again and again, remaining painful but never being publicly mourned. Though their historical origin dates back to the time of slavery, they cannot render that history knowable today, and hence bring a kind of pain that can only indicate the unrecoverability of its origin. As Reid-Pharr writes about Walker’s autofiction and her approach to memory. Instead of attempting to access the historical period from which racist images originate, Boo Hoo brings the blackface image to the surface yet again to address its unmournable quality, and to reveal how the use of such images in art that deals with Black identity fundamentally fails to recoup the history it addresses, creating a specific type of pain that is about the consequences that the citation of that history in the present has for the subject.

Walker, Kara Elizabeth. Kara Walker : narratives of a negress / New York : Rizzoli, 2007.
“Missus Kara E. Walker: Emancipated, and On Tour / Exhibition review and review article” By: Pinder, Kimberly N. Art Bulletin, December 2008, Vol. 90 Issue 4, p640-648
“Transgression, Excess, and the Violence of Looking in the Art of Kara Walker.” By: Wall, David. Oxford Art Journal, Oct2010, Vol. 33 Issue 3, p277-299

New Gift

Arthur Dove (1880-1946, U. S.)
Saint Peter’s, 1937
Watercolor, 29 x 24 cm.
Gift of Richard A. Scudamore ’55

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.

This work was sent to Alfred Stieglitz at An American Place in New York by Dove. It has only had two owners before coming to the Colleges. It is a depiction of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Geneva, New York. Dove’s watercolors were stimulated by his admiration for those of Georgia O’Keeffe’s earlier works. Dove did not commit himself to watercolor until 1930. Its translucent liquidity suited his need for what he called ·”·a means of expression which did not depend upon representation. . . [but was] nearer to the music of the eye.·”· The crystalline light of water color well-handled evoked what he referred to as ·”·sensations of light from within and without.·”· He took readily to the medium, producing one or two a day. summarizes Dove’s characteristic tension between empathy with the natural world and a bent toward full abstraction. The fluidity of the paint and the speed of the brush dabbing wet-in-wet suggest a locale – a broken downward stroke for a tree, a single horizontal one for the water’s edge – without depicting it. Its subject is the fugitive mood of the place, a turbulent metaphor for the inner life of the artist observing it.

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.

Recent Gift

Emile Gruppe (1896-1978, U.S.
Autumn in the Mountains, 1930-39
Oil on canvas, 76 x 102 cm.
Gift of David K. Anderson

Gruppe was born in Rochester, New York. He lived his early years in the Netherlands where his father Charles Paulo Gruppe painted with The Hague school of art and acted as a dealer for Dutch painters in the U.S. The family returned to the states around 1913 ahead of World War I. His brother Paulo played the cello, his other brother Karl became a sculptor and his sister Virginia a watercolorist. Gruppe studies at the National Academy in New York and the Acadèmie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris.

In the early 1930s, Gruppe moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts, particularly Rocky Neck and Cape Ann, one of the oldest artist communities in the U.S. He established The Gloucester School of Painting from 1940 to 1970 in an old schoolhouse with his mentor John Fabian Carlson. Gruppe was the teacher of artists including Otis Cook, Bill Wray and Nathalie Nordstand. Later, Jefferson, Vermont became a second campus for his students. And still later, Naples, Florida provided another palette for his landscapes.

These artists painted en plein aire (or outdoors) and captured scenes directly onto canvas. The Cape Ann School of American Impressionism remains a strong academic aspect of the history of American art.  

Although Gruppe is best known for his variety of impressionistic landscapes, he also painted figures and portraits. His modern style was largely inherited from the French Impressionist Claude Monet. He is best known for his harbor scenes of Gloucester, Massachusetts and vistas in and around Cape Ann like Gloucester Morning.

During his lifetime, Gruppe received awards from The National Academy and Allied Artists among others. He published three books on painting: Gruppe on Painting, 1976, Brushwork, 1977, and Gruppe on Color, 1979. Gruppe conveyed innovative and groundbreaking information about the use of color, palette techniques, and color theory. 

Public collections of Gruppe’s work are held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and at the White House, Washington D.C.

This painting belonged to Julia Broadhead Bissell, wife of Philip TenBroeck Bissell, who taught languages at Cornell and the University of Rochester. They were residents of Geneva. Ms. Bissell’s father was George Broadhead who ran a prominent art gallery at 46 East Avenue in Rochester during the 20s-30s. Ms. Bissell left the painting to Mary Ellen Anderson, Mr. Anderson’s mother. When Mrs. Anderson died, David Anderson kindly thought the painting should come full circle and gave it to The Colleges.

Emile A. Gruppé (1896-1978) By: Lowrey, Carol. American Art Review, November/December 2008, Vol. 20 Issue 6, p100-109, 10p

The Wall. American Art Review, Jul/Aug2014, Vol. 26 Issue 4, p8-8, 1/4p, 1 Color Photograph