September 2011

NOTES & COMMENTS

In order to complete work on major projects, we have suspended full publication of Aristos until further notice. Meanwhile, we will be posting dated commentary and news items on this page each month.


2011: August / October / November / December
2012: January / February


9/15 - EXHIBITION: Wyeth in Maine
See works by Andrew Wyeth through October 31st in our most northeasterly state. Andrew Wyeth, Christina's World, and the Olson House is at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. (The painting Christina's World itself does not travel and is staying put at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.)

Andrew and Jamie Wyeth: Selections from the Private Collection of Victoria Browning Wyeth is on view at the Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine, through October 2. In June, Victoria Wyeth gave a talk on the work of her grandfather and her uncle, and led a tour of the exhibition. Alas, we learned of it too late to bring this to your attention, but you can see and hear her effervescent comments on two works by Jamie (including Portrait of Pig ) at the Brandywine River Museum in Pennsylvania, on which see next note.

9/15 - EXHIBITION: Three Generations of Wyeths, and Howard Pyle
At the Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, Penn. Four exhibitions (one now on view, the others opening later this month).

9/14 - MUSEUM: The Clark
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass. (also home to Williams College) is one of America's finest small museums of painting and sculpture. Its original white marble building (1955), designed in accordance with Mr. Clark's desire for "domestic" spaces, features intimate galleries with large windows offering views of the surrounding grounds. Mercifully, the expanded permanent collections continue to reflect the Clarks' taste and interests. The Institute's collection of nineteenth-century European and American paintings is the main draw, but there is much more to tempt the eye and feed the soul--including sculpture, drawings, and decorative art from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century.

As further related in its interesting and well-told history (see "About Sterling and Francine Clark" and "The History of the Clark"), the Clark has grown a bit since the early 1950s. These days it includes the Stone Hill Center (2008), which presents exhibitions "highlighting its collection as well as works representing periods and cultures not currently shown at the Clark" (including, lamentably, abstract and other avant-garde work [see last two images in slideshow]). There is also a research and higher education center (1973), designed (like the Stone Hill Center) in a starkly modern style entirely at odds with the simple classicism of the original building.

The Kids Activities page on the Clark's website is worth visiting even if you are not a kid or can't visit with yours. See especially the lessons on Ghirlandaio's Portrait of a Lady [more] and Renoir's painting of two young women, At the Concert [more]. But adults, even experienced artists, will find the one on Winslow Homer's Undertow [more] the most interesting for its interactive feature on some of the preliminary drawings he made for this dramatic painting.

9/10 - LECTURE: On Eakins
Life Masks: Guise and Disguise in the Self-Portraits of Thomas Eakins, a talk by Henry Adams. National Academy Museum, 1083 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street), New York City, September 22, 2011, 6:45-8:00. A $12 fee includes museum admission. According to the program announcement, Adams (who is Professor of American Art at Case Western Reserve University and the author of Eakins Revealed: The Secret Life of an Artist) will discuss the painter's work and "controversial, erotically charged life. " Eakins's only completed self-portrait will be on view at the museum.

Though I haven't read Adams's account of the painter's "erotically charged life," I have read a comment he made on one of Eakins's most important works--The Champion Single Sculls (1871), long known as Max Schmitt in a Single Scull. (Though currently not on view, the painting is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.) Here is what I said about it in "Thomas Eakins: Painting Pure Thought" (Aristos, August 2003):

In an article for Smithsonian magazine, [Adams] reported that Schmitt had won an important race by a full three lengths, and that Eakins had chosen to depict, not the race itself, but a moment of rest in the training regimen. This, he said, made the painting "a tribute not just to Schmitt's victory but to the discipline that created it." True enough, but Adams's subsequent remark is far off the mark--the painting is "bittersweet," he asserts, since "triumph is brief and fleeting compared with the long hours that precede and follow it." In truth, nothing in the painting itself suggests anything of the sort.

See also further information about this work on the Met's website. -- L.T.


August / October