Recent Gift

Recent Gift

Hugo Gellert (1892-1985, Hungary/U.S.)
Racism Chains Both, 1970-79
Poster, 62 x 44 cm.
Gift of Edward T. Pollack ’55 in honor of Chester LeRoy Dexheimer, Class of 1955, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to social justice

The son of a tailor, Hugo Gellert was born on March 3, 1892, in Budapest, Hungary. He came to the United States with his family in 1907, and was soon at work in New York, first in a machine shop, then in a lithography shop printing movie posters. Gellert enrolled at the National Academy of Design in 1909, and he also took classes at Cooper Union. As a student, he designed theater posters and stained-glass windows, the latter for Tiffany Studios. In 1914 he studied at the Acadamie Julian in Paris. In 1915, Gellert rooted his personal and professional life in his leftist political convictions. He created antiwar cartoons and lithographed posters, and contributed to the Hungarian workers’ paper, Elore. Magazine illustration soon became Gellert’s primary activity. In 1916 his work began to appear in The Masses, and in 1918 he joined the editorial board of The Liberator. Through membership in the American Communist party, the artist became a friend of activist leaders John Reed. Louise Bryant, and Michael Gold. After traveling to Mexico in 1919, Gellert moved to the commune of the Modern School in Stelton, New jersey, where he taught art to children.

Beginning in the late 1920s Gellert became more politically active. In 1928 he co-founded the Anti-Horthy League, the first American antifascist group. In 1936 the artist led the famous protest against the destruction of Diego Rivera’s mural at Rockefeller Center. Gellert was also chairman of the Artists Committee of Action, and a founding member of the American Artists Congress. From 1920 to 1923 Gellert was on the staff of Pearsons Magazine and contributed to a score of other periodicals. He had his first one-man exhibition at the Kevorkian Gallery in New York in 1923. In 1926 Gellert became a contributing editor to The New Masses. Late in the decade, he gravitated toward mural painting, creating murals for the Workers’ Cafeteria at Union Square in 1928 and a fresco in the Center Theater at Rockefeller Center in 1932. His murals created a controversy when they were exhibited at the museum of Modern At in 1931 and 1932. Gellert joined the National Society of Mural Painters, and in 1934 he helped form the Mural Artists Guild of the United Scenic Painters of the AFL-CIO in order to insure that wall paintings for the World’s Fair would be contracted through the union. Working in the FAP mural division in 1938, the artist painted a fresco in the Communications Building of the World’s Fair.

In 1950 Gellert traveled throughout Australia, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. During the next two decades, he continued to use his art for political means, designing many posters, banners, and murals in protest of racism and militarism. Until the end of his life Gellert remained active in labor and political organizations and in the Hungarian community. Retrospective exhibition of his work were held at the Marx-Lenin Institute in Moscow in 1967 and at the National Gallery in Budapest in 1968. The artist painted his last mural at Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, New York. He died on December 6, 1985, in Freehold, New Jersey.

From David Acton’s A Spectrum of Innovation: Color in American Printmaking 1890-1960, Worcester Art Museum, 1990

From World War I to the Popular Front: The Art and Activism of Hugo Gellert. By: Wechsler, James. Journal of Decorative & Propaganda Arts, 1999, Vol. 24, p198-229, 32p

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Recent Gift

Anton Bruehl (1900-1982, Germany/U.S.)
Free Labor Will Win, 1942
Photo Offset Poster, 102 x 73 cm.
Gift of Edward T. Pollack ’55 in honor of Chester LeRoy Dexheimer, Class of 1955, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to social justice

Anton Bruehl was born in 1900, studied photography with Clarence White, and became noted for the originality of his commercial photography. “Working primarily in the studio, he produced images remarkable for their unusual lighting effects and angles of view; their strong, simple graphic organization; their meticulous craftsmanship; and their understated humor. Although he was best known for his stylish still life and table-top arrangements for advertising illustration, Bruehl was equally adept at the celebrity portraiture and fashion photography he contributed to Vogue (Contemporary Photographers, St. Martin’s Press, 1982).” With Fernand Bourges he developed a color process which became the standard for color photography in the 1930’s, and he is noted for the effectiveness of the use of color in his own work. He published several books, the most important being “Mexico” 25 black and white photos, published in 1933.

In this very striking image, the American flag frames a welder, his helmet visor up, pulling on his gloves, looking determined and ready to go to work. The message is intended to contrast America’s free workers with the forced labor used by the enemy.

Bruehl’s legacy: why did a creative power fall into obscurity? By: Crager, Jack. American Photo, May/June 1998, Vol. 9 Issue 3, p31
Colour supplement. By: Gett, Trevor. British Journal of Photography, February 18 1998, Issue 7163, p40-42, 3p
In the Spotlight: Anton Bruehl photographs 1920s-1950s. By: Newton, Gael. Artonview, Spring2010, Issue 63, p24-27, 4p

Art of the Week

Robert Indiana (b.1928)
Number 5: Demuth American Dream, 1980
Number 5: Die, 1980
Number 5: Eat, 1980
American Dream # 5: Hug, 1980
Silkscreen, 61 x 61 cm.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84
Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.”

Robert Indiana (born Robert Clark) was born in New Castle, Indiana on September 13, 1928. In 1953, Indiana received a degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and in 1954, attended the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. In 1956, Indiana moved to New York, where he became a part of the Pop Art movement. He began to paint in a geometric, hardedge style, blending commercial art and existentialism. While in New York, Indiana worked with artist Andy Warhol, creating Eat, a film of Indiana eating a mushroom. With his first New York solo exhibition at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery in 1962, Indiana began a long career of showcasing his works in over 30 museums and galleries, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Hirshhorn Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum. Indiana is most well-known for his iconic LOVE sculpture. Originally created in 1964 for a Christmas card design for the Museum of Modern Art, the image was reproduced on United States Postal Service postage stamp in 1973, and sculptural versions of the image can be found at institutions around the world. Indiana has lived and worked in Vinalhaven, Maine since 1978.

The Golden Five were produced under the supervision of William Katz, printmaker.
They are based on the oil painting The Demuth American Dream #5, 1963, in the Art Gallery of Ontario. Robert Indiana based this work on Charles Demuth’s famous painting of 1928, The Figure Five in Gold, which was itself based on William Carlos Williams’s poem “The Great Figure,” scribbled on a sheet of paper while he was walking in Manhattan: Among the rain/
and lights/
I saw the figure 5/
in gold/
on a red/
fire truck/
moving/
tense
/unheeded/
to gong clangs/
siren howls/
and wheels rumbling
/through the dark city. Moreover, there are also religious symbols that go hand in hand with the importance of the number five. Indiana was closely affiliated with religion, and he tried to incorporate this aspect into his works. The five panels form into the shape of a Greek cross. The four panels which have the words “err”, “die”, “eat”, and “hug,” are placed surrounding the core, which is the fifth panel. The cross symbolizes the four elements of the universe Fire, Water, Earth, and Wind. These four elements take the form of the four outer panels of Indiana’s layout. Further, the four words he uses on each panel err, die, eat and hug – make up one form the form of the American Dream.

  • Ryan, Susan Elizabeth. Robert Indiana : figures of speech / New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press, c2000. ND237.I47 R93 2000

Susan Sheehan, Robert Indiana Prints: a catalogue raisonné, 1951-1991. New York: Susan Sheenan Gallery, 1991
Words and images artfully entwined. By: Kostelanetz, Richard. Art International, September 1970, Vol. 14, p44-56, 13p

Art of the Week

Malcolm Morley (1931-)
Arles/Miame, 1873
Lithograph on BFK Rives paper, 61 x 86 cm.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Welsh, Jr. P’84

Born in London in 1931, the painter Malcolm Morley emigrated to the United States in 1958, where he still lives and works. His youth was marred by the upheavals of the Second World War and a three-year stint in prison – lasting impressions that have determined the artist’s repertory of motifs. In 1952-53, Malcolm Morley attended the Camberwell School of Art in London, and then from 1954 to 1957, the Royal College of Art.

Inspired by an exhibition of contemporary American art he saw at the Tate Gallery in 1956, Morley turned to Abstract Expressionism. After 1958, Malcolm Morley lived in New York. There he came into contact with such greats as Barnett Newman, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. The first paintings Malcolm Morley produced in New York were articulated by horizontal stripes.

It was not long, however, before Morley again addressed representational motifs because he was not satisfied with abstract painting. Morley began to produce paintings in a reduced palette from newspaper photos of battleships, aircraft and sports scenes that were faithful to the last detail. From about 1964, he worked on refining his photorealist style by transferring the photographic images he had selected to canvas as accurately as possible: raster field for raster field. Acclaimed as a major exponent of Photorealism, Morley himself prefers to call his style Superrealism, the term he coined for it.

In the 1980s, Malcolm Morley abandoned Superrealism for a Neo-Expressionist style. His handling became looser and more casual although he retained his canon of motifs. In 1984, Malcolm Morley became the first recipient of the Turner Prize, just after it had been established by a subgroup of the Friends of the Tate Gallery.

Arles/Miame were the first original, hand drawn prints ever created by Morley and, as such, are important for any serious collection.

Morley, Malcolm, Malcolm Morley : prints & process. New York : Pace Prints, [1986?].M6 A4 1986
Malcolm Morley: talking about seeing. By: Kertess, Klaus. Artforum, Summer80, Vol. 18, p48-51, 4p
Miami postcard (1974) By: Morley, Malcolm. Arts Magazine, Nov74, Vol. 49, p78-79, 2p
Malcolm Morley and the experience of seeing. By: Paoletti, John T.. Arts in Virginia, 1986, Vol. 26 Issue 3, p2-13, 12p

Art of the Week

Doel Reed (1894-1985)
Spring, 1941
Aquatint and etching, 25 x 35 cm.
Gift of Robert North in memory of Marion de Mauriac North ‘32

Born on May 21, 1894, near Logansport, Indiana, Doel Reed achieved an international reputation as a landscape artist and printmaker and was called a master of aquatint. In his youth, he attended art classes at the John Herron Art Museum in Indianapolis and developed a lifelong interest in artwork featuring the human figure. Graduating from high school in 1912, he served as an apprentice architect for four years. Exposure to architectural drawing was later shown in his detailed depictions of buildings and structures.

In 1916, Reed began studying at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. The first art school west of the Allegheny Mountains, the Academy stressed a classical education concentrating on principles of drawing and painting. Among the prominent faculty were Frank Duveneck and Joseph Henry Sharp. The instructors emphasized figure drawing, thus furthering Reed’s interest. Service in World War I with the Forty-Seventh Infantry in France brought exposure to mustard gas and left him with temporary blindness and permanent lung damage. Again a civilian in 1919, Reed reentered the academy. His interest turned to print making. Basically self-taught, he was especially influenced by Spanish artist Francisco Goya’s aquatints. In 1920 he completed his study and married fellow art student Elizabeth Jane Sparks.

Continuing respiratory problems prompted Reed to move to a drier climate. He accepted a teaching position at Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) in 1924. In 1930 Reed conducted an art colony, one of the state’s first, at Spavinaw. The college gave him great latitude in curriculum development. Believing drawing to be the foundation for each artistic venture, he encouraged students to go to nature and interpret it through their own perspectives rather than simply to copy it. Reed’s promotion of the graphic arts, then relatively new in art curricula, brought recognition to the art department. His expertise in printmaking helped distinguish the department from others in the region.

During his time in Stillwater, Reed took several sabbaticals to enhance his work. Journeys to France, Nova Scotia, and Mexico exposed him to innovative and influential trends in art. With World War II gasoline rationing, he sought closer locales, particularly Taos, New Mexico. Always attracted to the southwestern landscape, he also was influenced by the fact that many prominent artists lived in the area. When he retired in 1959, he relocated to Taos. In retirement, Reed devoted himself exclusively to art. His work reflected New Mexico’s rugged landscape. After spending a day sketching mountains or canyons, he would return to his studio and decide whether to leave the sketch as a drawing or turn it into an aquatint or painting. His art also continued to reflect his keen awareness of the human form. In 1965 he published Doel Reed Makes an Aquatint. Reed exhibited in approximately 350 juried shows, winning more than one hundred national and international awards and prizes. Of all his recognitions, he was proudest of his membership in the National Academy of Design, the most influential organization in the history of American art. Elected an associate member in 1942, he was accorded full academician status in 1952. Doel Reed died on September 30, 1985, in Taos.

Cohen, Harry B. and Ann L. Rogers. Doel Reed, N.A.: the graphic works. Harco Gallery, 1998 (ISBN 9780966642704)

Doel Reed: Taos maverick. By: NELSON, Mary Carroll. American Artist, Mar1979, Vol. 43, p66

Today is the birth anniversary of Ben Shahn

Ben Shahn was born in Kaunus, Lithuania in 1898. He emigrated to New York with his family in 1906. He became a lithographer’s apprentice after completing his schooling. He later attended both New York University and the National Academy of Design from 1917 to 1921. In the 1920s Shahn became part of the social realism movement. Social Realism is a term used to describe the works of American artists during the Depression era who were devoted to depicting the social troubles of the suffering urban lower class: urban decay, labor strikes, and poverty. His early work was concerned with political issues of the time, while his later work portrayed the loneliness of the city dweller. Text and lettering formed an integral part of his designs and his work was often inspired by news reports. After working in lithography until 1930, his style crystallized in a series of 23 paintings concerning the Sacco-Vanzetti trial. Shahn came to prominence in the 1930s as with “The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti”. Shahn dealt consistently with social and political themes. He developed a strong and brilliant sense of graphic design revealed in numerous posters. His painting Vacant Lot (Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Conn.) exhibits a poetic realism, whereas his more abstract works are characterized by terse, incisive lines and a lyric intensity of color. The Blind Botanist (Wichita Art Mus.) is characteristic of his abstractions. Shahn’s murals include series for the Bronx Central Annex Post Office, New York City. From 1933 to 1938 he worked as a photographer for the Farm Security Administration, producing masterful images of impoverished rural areas and their inhabitants. Shahn used photographs throughout his career for both composition and content. The photographer position at the FSA was a dream job for Shahn because it provided him the opportunity to travel though Depression-era America taking pictures. He later used those photographs for his paintings years later. Critics in his time felt that using photographs for paintings diminished the value of a painting. However, Shahn’s work became the most popular artist of his age. His work was on the cover of Time and well as the Museum of Modern Art. Shahn has been described as a man of uncompromising beliefs and an artist who spoke to the world. Shahn continuously adopted new themes and mediums to define the human condition of his time. Active until the end of his career, Shahn was also a distinguished lecturer, teacher, and writer.

In our collections, you will find:
Ben Shahn (1898-1969)
Frederick Douglas, IV, 1965
Lithograph, 59 x 46 cm.
Collection of Hobart and William Smith Colleges
© Estate of Ben Shahn/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Shahn here portrayed Douglass, the elder statesman, fully bearded according to the custom of his day and with the same strong eyes as before; but the hunched shoulders, the detail of the mouth, the slightly receding hair, and the loose collar suggest a man of advancing years. Again, the raw umber title is centered above the portrait.

Frederick Douglass, a former slave and eminent human rights leader in the abolition movement, was the first black citizen to hold a high U.S. government rank.

Art of the Week

The other day I was speaking with Val Vistocco in the President’s Office and stopped to admire a painting I had not seen for a time. While this image is a poor substitute for the work, I cannot help but share with you its luminosity and tranquility. It made a hectic day ever so much better for me.

Alfred Thompson Bricher (1837-1908)
Grand Manan
Oil on canvas, 46 x 99 cm.
Gift of Richard A. Scudamore ‘55

Bricher was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the son of English immigrants, and his youth was spent in Newburyport, Massachusetts. In 1851, he became a clerk in a store in Boston, and he may have studied art there at the Lowell Institute. During his early years in Boston, he became familiar with the art of the Hudson River School, and was specifically inspired by the work of the Luminists, John Kensett, Martin Johnson Heade, Sanford Gifford, and Fitz Hugh Lane. In 1864, Lane’s works were shown at the Boston Atheneum, and Bricher’s studio in Boston was in the same building as Heade’s. By 1859, Bricher had established a studio in Boston, where he displayed sketches of open-air works. In the 1860s, Bricher was creating marine subjects, working at Mt. Desert Island in Maine and in Northampton, Massachusetts. He found other subjects in locales in New England and New York state. He also began to use watercolor during the ’60s, a medium in which he created many of his finest works. By the middle of the decade, he had become employed by the Louis Prang publishing house, which claimed to have invented the chromolithograph. Eventually twenty-three of Bricher’s paintings were created as chromolithographs by the firm. In 1868, Bricher married and moved from Boston to New York, setting up his studio at 40 West 30th Street. During the next decade, he was influenced by the emergence of a younger generation of artists who were dedicated to experimenting with new techniques and developing personal styles. Affected by the art of his time, Bricher began to work in a more spontaneous and painterly manner, but he remained dedicated to capturing quiet, light-filled scenes of coastal areas and often rendered forms with a precision that reflected his continued adherence to Luminism. During the 1870s, Bricher became active in many important art associations, in particular, the American Watercolor Society. He also became affiliated with Swedenborgianism, a religion to which William Page and George Inness also subscribed. Affected in his art by the ideas of Swedenborg, Bricher created works that had a symbolic component in which forms were bathed in soft misty glows. Between 1878 and 1884, Bricher included figures in his landscapes, mostly women shown in leisure activities. These images have similarities to some contemporaneous works by Winslow Homer. In the 1880s, Bricher adopted a more tonal approach. His colors had always been predominantly pale blues and greens with touches of intense yellow; all harmoniously blended to convey the sensations of bright, sunny days. Now he concentrated on recording atmospheric conditions, which he conveyed by emphasizing a single, dominant color. Following his second marriage in 1881, Bricher spent summers in Southampton, Long Island, where he created a number of views of the expansive coastline and the village. However, throughout his career, Bricher traveled extensively, visiting the coasts of Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Canada. Bricher’s work is represented in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Dallas Art Museum, as well as many other public and private collections.

After his first visit to Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick, Canada, in the mid-1870s, Alfred Bricher became so enamored with the picturesque surroundings that the location served as the subject for many paintings he completed over the next thirty years. He was struck by the juxtaposition of the large rocky cliffs and tranquil inlets that could be seen on the island. The area initiated a long series of paintings.