Rembrandt Peale’s iconic portrait of George Washington realized a new world record for a porthole portrait by the artist when it sold for $662,500- a record for a porthole portrait by the artist-to lead Heritage Auctions’ recent American art events in Dallas. Peale’s portrait of Washington was presented with his equally iconic portrait of Martha Washington, which reached $158,500. It followed other important offerings including John McCrady’s Steamboat ‘Round the Bend, a mammoth tribute — both figuratively and literally — to Southern regional art. At 14-feet wide, the 1946 commission for Delmonico’s Restaurant in New Orleans is recognized as McCrady’s most famous mural, helping it realize $542,500 — a new world record for the artist. Jerome Thompson’s 1865 oil on canvas titled Riverbank in Bloom sold for $512,500 to shatter its $8,000+ pre-auction estimate and set the new record for this artist.
Senior Curator of European and American Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, Oliver Meslay told a crowd of docents assembled at the museum Monday that it wasn’t the easiest exhibit to put together, nor the most obvious.
Rather the need for Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy took some convincing. First, it’s difficult to talk about the Kennedy’s in Dallas. The art, put together just a few days before the president’s arrival at the hotel suite, might seem on the surface a mish-mash.
Organizers, who included Ruth Carter Stevenson (then Ruth Carter Johnson), chose art that would appeal to the tastes of the room’s important occupants. The Master Bedroom, which was designated as Jacqueline Kennedy’s bedroom, was adorned with impressionist masterworks, per her well-known affinity for the genre. Other works related to Massachusetts. And the assemblage provides an interesting overview of the work that was in Fort Worth at the time.
The President and Mrs Kennedy arrived late, and likely didn’t notice until morning the art on the walls was anything other than the usual bad paintings found in hotels. It’s then they spotted a pamphlet on the desk which lists works by sixteen artists including Thomas Eakins, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Claude Monet, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh and others. One account says Mrs Kennedy was so pleased she personally phoned Mrs. Johnson and said she would like to spend the day in the room.
Of the pieces in suite 850 at the Hotel Texas, three could not be located for the exhibition. None were refused. One of those is Portrait of the Artist’s Grandaughter by Claude Monet, then in the collection of Mrs. J. Lee Johnson, III. While in the hotel suite, it was set in the Suite Parlor with Angry Owl by Pablo Picasso, then owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ted Weiner.
One Western work, Meeting in a Blizzard by Charles M. Russell was included, then owned by the Amon Carter Museum. Lesser known however is the fact that the hotel suite of Vice President Lyndon Johnson was also decorated, and featured exclusively Western art.
While the hotel is existent (now the Hilton), the suite is gone. That’s nothing to be bothered about, however. The time and place will surely come alive in the exhibition. And as much as the exhibit is less about the history, the fact remains that this contains the components of the last exhibit the President and Mrs Kennedy- who were huge supporters of the arts, saw together.
Meslay ended with a quote from Kennedy.
“We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth. There is nothing worse for our trade than to be in style. In free society art is not a weapon and it does not belong to the spheres of polemic and ideology. Artists are not engineers of the soul. It may be different elsewhere. But democratic society–in it, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may. In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation. And the nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost’s hired man, the fate of having “nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope.”
Click to hear the remarks: http://www.arts.gov/about/Kennedy.html
Grant Wood’s sketchbook containing images related to a 24-foot stained glass window in Cedar Rapids will be auctioned May 12 at Leslie Hindman in Chicago.
The 24-foot tall window in the Veterans Memorial Building in Grant Wood’s hometown was the largest in the United States in 1929. It features a central figure of a Lady in Mourning, modeled after the artist’s sister and sitter for the iconic painting, American Gothic, Nan Wood. The figure is flanked by life-size soldiers from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War and the First World War. It is the only known stained-glass window designed by Wood.
The 48-page sketchbook embellished with over 70 preparatory drawings and studies for the window has signed the cover of the small journal and an inscription from the artist’s sister, signed and dated May 1, 1946, confirms: “This book was the property of Grant Wood. It contains sketches and ideas for the stained glass memorial window he designed for the memorial building in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The sketches were made in 1929.”
There are no known sketchbooks attributed to Wood in institutional or private collections, and the auction house is confident it will exceed its $40,000-60,000 presale estimate.
A major painting by 19th-century landscape artist Robert Seldon Duncanson (1821–1872), the first African-American artist to achieve international acclaim, has been purchased by Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Painted in 1869, the work titled The Caves was originally owned by Cincinnati Abolitionist Richard Sutton Rust (1815–1906), and it remained in his family until the museum purchased it in late 2012.
Because it has been in a private collection for nearly 150 years, the painting will be accessible to the public for the first time beginning May 4, when it is displayed in the Amon Carter’s galleries.
“Duncanson is an immensely important figure in American art,” says Andrew J. Walker, director of the Amon Carter. “He was a self-taught, black artist from Cincinnati and a leading landscape painter of his time, which was a monumental accomplishment during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods. Owning a work by this esteemed artist greatly enriches our collection.”
Impressive in scale, the painting is approximately three feet tall and depicts an intimate view of the wilderness, with unusual geographic features of steep ravines and sandstone cliffs perforated by a canopy of evergreens and a trio of caverns.
Duncanson’s paintings seldom overtly depict the political and cultural issues of the years surrounding the Civil War, such as slavery and discrimination, according to Margi Conrads, deputy director of art and research. Instead, the artist may have included subtle cues in his landscapes that conveyed his anti-slavery position.
“His depiction of caves poses intriguing questions about whether the painting includes references to the abolitionist movement or the role of African-Americans in everyday society,” says Conrads. “Caves were among the safe havens for runaway slaves through the Civil War. Additionally, both before and after the War, African-Americans guided tourists through caves, and it’s possible Duncanson is referencing this in his painting through the figure at the cavern’s mouth.”
Four watercolors from the museum’s permanent collection by Adrien Mayers (1801?–1833) will be exhibited near the Duncanson painting through September 4. The watercolors portray an early view of Cincinnati, Duncanson’s adopted hometown and the place that nurtured his career.
Nearly 200 people made it to the Witte Museum in San Antonio for the Annual CASETA conference. If you’re not familiar, CASETA stands for the Center for the Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art.
Before you start, there are two things to know about Early Texas Art. First, if you spend time hanging around say Boston, you may not think much of what’s here is “early.” Much of it touches on modernism, abstraction and the like, and it may be from as recent times as the 1970s. CASETA uses the idea of up to 40 years ago in the past.
The second thing you should know is that it’s not locals painting cactus and cowboys. Early Texas Art may have some ties to Texas- and that is what it has in common- but the subjects are diverse as are the artists. They are not one day wondering out of doors and picking up a brush as much as they are well-traveled, professionally trained and exposed to the art world, with emphasis on world.
I was mistaken, however, there is a third thing you need to know. If you have no ties to Texas, it doesn’t matter. Attendees came from at least several states, some far from the Lone Star. Texas Art is collected far and wide, and is increasing in popularity.
One reason for that may be that the economy is booming here and some new residents may have a desire to become connected. But, if comments revealed during a panel discussion are accurate, contemporary artists from Texas who have gained national prominence are instigating interest in their teachers, and teachers teachers and their circles.
These factors about Texas art and artists seem to have held true from the beginning. Hermann Lungkwitz (1813–1891), as one example, was born and trained in Germany. Born in San Antonio Julian Onderdonk went to New York to study with William Merritt Chase. Members of the Fort Worth Circle were certainly looking to Europe.
Sure, there are cows and bluebonnets, just as there would be bridges in New York or smoke stacks in Pittsburgh. But the art is as diverse as the people and landscape. And if you’ve been here, most likely it isn’t quite what you thought it was. The same is probably true for Early Texas Art.
Eight landscapes by George Inness given to the Clark by Frank and Katherine Martucci will go on display June 9 with two Inness paintings collected by the museum’s founders. The exhibition examines the artist’s late work when Inness had moved away from plein-air painting and naturalistic portrayals of landscapes towards a more conceptual approach to capturing mood and the actions of light and shadow.
“The focused nature of this collection of ten works is an ideal way in which to consider George Inness at a point in his career in which his personal beliefs were imbuing his artistry in fascinating ways,” says Michael Conforti, director of the Clark.
Wanting to do more than simply mirror and record nature, Inness developed an approach that blended realism with a visionary expression of spiritual meaning. He experimented with color, composition, and painterly technique to present a vision of the natural world beyond its physical appearance.
Grounded in reality, many of the works were inspired by the countryside near the artist’s home in Montclair, New Jersey. Yet in them Inness sought to go beyond the limits of appearance to express the spiritual essence of the natural world. In Home at Montclair, Inness used thinly applied paint to capture a balance between naturalism and abstraction. Various painterly techniques—quick touches of the brush, areas of pigment wiped with a rag, and scoring wet paint with the reverse end of the artist’s brush—soften the contours of New Jersey Landscape. This blurring of forms evokes a sense of the metaphysical quality of the natural world.
George Inness: Gifts from Frank and Katherine Martucci, is on view at the Clark June 9 through September 8.
Bloomberg News reports that Christie’s will hold its first auction in Mainland China this fall. In doing so it will become the first international auction firm to hold its branded events there. The article cites the European Fine Art Foundation which concludes the $13.7 billion market is the second-largest in the world. The move may begin a shift from Hong Kong as the center of the Chinese art market to Shanghai. READ THE ARTICLE
Presented by The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, curators say a new exhibit called Painters and Paintings in the Early American South is the first exhibition of its kind that explores the scope of this region of early American art while bringing new vitality, excitement and scholarship to the forefront. “Nothing like this has been done before,” says Carolyn Weekley, Colonial Williamsburg’s Juli Grainger Curator, ”having all these wonderful examples in one place at the same time.
“Most importantly, the exhibition will illustrate the myriad connections between art centers of the early South, New England, the Middle Atlantic and Europe.”
Included more than 80 portraits, landscapes, seascapes and other artworks pertinent to the Atlantic coast states from Maryland southward and the upper coast of the Gulf of Mexico. All were created in or for the South between 1735 and 1800. Participating institutions include The Carnegie Museum of Art, The Charleston Museum, The Corcoran Gallery of Art,The Dallas Museum of Art, The Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum and others.
A second and similar exhibition featuring works dating prior to 1735 is planned for a 2015 opening in Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.
The Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth will present an installation of Texas paintings that curators say captures a pivotal moment in the state’s cultural history. In the 1930s, a group of young artists—including Jerry Bywaters, Alexandre Hogue, William Lester, Thomas Stell, Harry Carnohan and Coreen Spellman, among others—gained national recognition for their scenic and ideological interpretations of the local environment. Although they depicted the people and landscapes of Texas in identifiable and representational manners, each artist possessed their own style, often combining realism with modernist influences ranging from Cubism to Surrealism. These evocative paintings provide a poignant glimpse of life and art in Texas during the era of the Great Depression. The exhibit opensApril 30.
Albany, Texas is about as far away from Tokyo as you can get, but Kana Harada has brought her cherry blossoms to the Old Jail Art Center. For a fleeting period of spring time, the 19th century jail is infused with meditative zen.
Kana moved from Tokyo with her husband, an expatriate from Texas Instruments, to Dallas a decade ago. Starting from 2008, she began to explore three dimensional works with found objects and foam sheet-based installation.
Those foam sheets are nothing unusual. They can be bought at crafts stores like Michael’s. Leather light and soft, the pliant sheets enable the artist to cut, bend or glue shapes into an ensemble of nature wonders. The foam sheets are often dyed or painted, with limited range of pastel colors. One could almost smell that modern Japanese aesthetics — clean, light, animated, while, at the same time, possibly glean the traditional Japanese style underneath – two dimensional imageries with flattened shapes. In particular, the flowers, when observed in close proximity, look rather cartoonish. Their strict geometry speaks of a synthetic nature delineated through cut patterns. Georgia O’Keefe would have disagreed with the lack of subtle transitions in hues and values; but Murakami could see in them the essential liveliness of manga and anime.
What saves the installation from being merely crafts is the oriental succinctness that Kana instills into the works. She exudes fluidity in orchestrating found objects with crafted ones into an organic presentation. Such presentations, like traditional oriental art, carry the efficiency in abstracting the nature into morsels of ordinary elements. As the result, the nature, instead of telling, invites contemplation.
When I walked upstairs and bounced into the blossomed twigs, it triggered the same kind of excitement as seeing solitary flowers of winter jasmine in an early spring excursion (from my childhood in China). Twigs and stem are bare, as are the cases in the installation. Light came through the fenced window and shone on rough-hewed walls. The delicate flowers, like a Calder’s mobile, swung slowly, with a mesmerizing rhythm. Time seemed to have suspended for that momentary quietude.
Whether it is in Japan or Texas, not long do blossoms last – Cherry flowers peak only for a week while Texas’ spring will be gone before one notices it. Thus, in an eerie setting where time would have been irrelevant to the original occupants, the installation could not be more pertinent in expressing the ephemeral nature of life.
Kana Harada’s Anything You Want exhibition will be shown at the Old Jail Art Center in Albany TX until May 19, 2013.