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Charlotte Hendrix

An etching of hand tools

Collection Spotlight: Jim Dine

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Jim Dine (American, born 1935)
Dartmouth Still Life, 1974–76 Edition: 30; artist’s proof Etching with hand coloring in crayon
Museum purchase

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Jim Dine took classes at the Cincinnati Art Academy while still in high school and attended the University of Cincinnati, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and Ohio University before moving to New York in 1959, where he began a long and celebrated career as an artist. Along with fellow artists Claes Oldenburg, Red Grooms, and Allan Kaprow, Dine was a pioneer creator of “Happenings”—spontaneous and multi-disciplinary art performances conducted in lofts, basements, and outdoor environments of bohemian New York.

An etching of hand tools

In the 1960s, he was closely associated with the development of Pop Art, though Dine’s work mostly avoided the cool detachment from subject matter that characterized much of the movement. Instead, his recurring subjects are highly personal in content and expressionistic in technique. A skilled draughtsman, Dine has created numerous paintings and graphic works that offer a kind of autobiography through objects, most frequently an invisible figure in a bathrobe as an iconic self-portrait, emblems of a heart to represent his love for his wife, and assemblies of tools that hold special meaning in his life.

Detail of printing tools

Dartmouth Still Life is an elegant example from one of the most significant periods in his career. This richly rendered etching is the second in a series of four variations on the composition. The initial working of the plate, titled The Wrench in Nature, showed the single large wrench isolated in the center of the plate. More tools were added for the present impression and again in the subsequent Pink Chinese Scissors, and final state, Piranesi’s 24 Colored Marks. The tools depicted here make reference to Dine’s practice of printmaking but also carry other autobiographical associations. The artist’s father and grandfather ran a hardware store in Cincinnati that sold plumbing and house painting tools and supplies.

Landscape of a fishing village

Collection Spotlight: Sol Wilson

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Sol Wilson
(American, born in Polish Russia, 1896–1974)
Untitled (fishing village)
Gouache or casein on paper
Museum purchase with funds provided by the 1072 Society, 2012, in memory of Mrs. Dorry Ann Johnston Blackburn, Dr. Lucile McGehee Haynes, and Mrs. Jean Farr Henderson

Landscape of a fishing village

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

Sol Wilson was one of forty-seven artists included in the original Advancing American Art exhibition organized by the U.S. State Department in 1946. Wilson’s painting Fisherman on a Wharf was reproduced for the cover of the catalogue prepared by the War Assets Administration that accompanied the auction to liquidate the collection. Until recently, that painting’s whereabouts had been lost to scholars researching Advancing American Art. It has since been located in a New York City public high school in Brooklyn. Although Wilson’s art is little known today by the general public, his painting in the State Department collection garnered the largest number of individual bidders at the dispersal in 1948, besting more well-known names such as Marin, O’Keeffe, and Shahn.

This untitled painting was likely painted at the same site as the work from Advancing American Art, and during the same period. In both cases, Wilson has captured the cold, harsh conditions of a maritime village. Threatening skies and opaque waters cast a slightly ominous mood to the deserted scene. The town’s scattered structures seem hewn from the same matter as the stony riprap along the rugged shoreline, all rendered by the artist in direct and forceful brushstrokes. Wilson aims his attention inland to represent the silence of village as its inhabitants are out to sea for their daily labors.

Collection Spotlight: Blanche Lazzell

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Blanche Lazzell
American Landscape, Woodstock Ca. 1917
Oil on canvas
Museum purchase with funds provided by Gerald and Emily Leischuck

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

Blanche Lazzell is a truly remarkable American modernist. Born in rural West Virginia, she was educated there and in South Carolina before enrolling at the Art Students League in 1907 at the age of 29. Five years later she traveled to Europe and trained in Paris at the Académie Moderne in 1913. In 1915 she spent her first summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she would continually return over the next forty years to become one of the most influential and innovative artists of that art colony. It was there she first learned the technique of white-line woodcuts that would later be a hallmark of her creative art production.

In the summer of 1917, Lazzell studied color theory with Charles Schumacher at the Byrdcliffe Art Colony in Woodstock, New York. Schumacher had attended the Académie Julian in Paris and was influenced by Nabis artists Pierre Bonnard and Maurice Denis as well as the Post-Impressionist, Paul Cézanne, but it was Georges Seurat’s pursuit of color analysis that would serve to inspire Schumacher for much of his later career. His influence is evident in this painting, which was most likely completed by Lazzell at Byrdcliffe.

During her lifetime, Lazzell became an accomplished and respected artist who despite her conservative demeanor was invited by Katherine Dreier to serve on the Board of Directors of the Société Anonyme, whose founders included Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp. Throughout her life Lazzell never ceased to explore the various stylistic vocabularies of modern art. In the 1920s she returned to Paris to study cubism and geometric abstraction with Fernand Léger, André Lhote, and Albert Gleizes. In the late 1930s, almost at the age of 60, she took classes with Hans Hoffmann in Provincetown to learn more about painterly abstraction. Her lifelong penchant for learning and examining various modernist expressions makes this painting an important reflection of her outstanding career. Landscape, Woodstock would not only well represent this significant artist in our museum’s collection, it would also serve as a fine example of the modernist technique known as pointillism for our students.

In anticipation of Auburn’s celebration of 125 Years of Auburn Women, curators will campaign to acquire work by women artists, thus adding to the 54 females currently represented in the collection. Learn more.

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Collection Spotlight: Albert Fitch Bellows

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Albert Fitch Bellows
(American, 1829–1883)
Down to the Brook, 1862
13 x 21 ¼ inches
Oil on canvas
Museum purchase with funds provided by the 1072 Society, 2010

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

In 1863, Albert Fitch Bellows exhibited a landscape painting entitled Down to the Brook at the National Academy of Design in New York, where he had served as an elected academician for two years. It is possible that this is that work though there is another painting dating from 1863 with the same title in the collection of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Whatever the case, this painting is undoubtedly a tour de force of the artist’s sense of color and atmosphere as well as his technical expertise which resulted in great fame during his lifetime.

The bucolic setting with cattle at the water’s edge, under the watchful eye of two figures, describes the natural beauty of this summer’s day. Evidence of humanity punctuates the rustic landscape; the rowboat moored across the brook, stone and wooden fences, the orderly homestead tucked into a grove of trees at left, and the distant towering church spire at right. Bellows studied in Europe and spent time in Belgium, France, and England in the mid 1850s where he was inspired by Romanticism and such artists as John Constable, apparent in the way he highlights the leafy trees to capture shimmering light and the ever changing drama of cloudscapes. Bellows also was inspired by his fellow American Romantics of the Hudson River School who celebrated the American natural world as evidence of the divine. In this case it is not just the extraordinary clarity and beauty of the setting, but the presence of the country church that confirms God’s blessing on this land.

Detail of Farmers bringing cows down to a river.

The date of the painting reminds us that this serene image was painted as the Civil War raged, a national conflict that tore the fragile young nation apart. Often the art made during this fractious period not only sought to reveal the heavenly presence in the American landscape but to reinforce an inherent faith that God divined this country to be part of a sacred universal plan and in time, the war would end and our nation would endure. Down to the Brook therefore is an image of hope and faith and very much part of the midnineteenth- century American landscape tradition.

Upon his death, Bellows’s fellow National Academy of Design members eulogized his passing. Today his work can be found at the National Academy of Design, as well as the New York Historical Society, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Etching and aquatint of people walking on a cold day

Collection Spotlight: Eugen Kirchner

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Eugen Kirchner
(German, 1865–1938)
November, 1896
Etching and aquatint on wove paper
Published in Pan, volume II, no. 3
12 1/8 x 7 ½ inches
Museum purchase with funds provided by J. Mark Jones

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

Eugen Kirchner’s dramatic print, November, was created for the turn-ofthe- century magazine of arts and literature Pan, published in Berlin from 1895 through 1900. Together with Jugend, a similar journal produced in Munich (1896–1914), Pan played an important role in the development of Art Nouveau in Germany, known there as Jugendstil, or “youth style.” Pan printed stories, poems, and critical essays by vanguard authors of the day and featured original etchings, woodcuts, and lithographs by both well-known and emerging artists. Its international roster of visual artists included Aubrey Beardsley, Käthe Kollwitz, Maximilien Luce, Joseph Pennell, Auguste Rodin, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Félix Vallotton.

Etching and aquatint of people walking on a cold day

Reacting to the staid academic styles of the 19th century, Jugendstil and its kindred movements across Europe (Arte Joven in Spain, Arte Nuova in Italy, Nieuwe Kunst in the Netherlands, and Art Nouveau in France and Britain) advocated a total design aesthetic to be manifested in art, architecture, and the applied arts. Though each nation’s variant on Art Nouveau reflected an indigenous experience, all were characterized by the use of highly stylized curvilinear forms and floral or other organic motifs. An account published in Pan described the “sudden violent curves generated by the crack of a whip.”

Detail of people walking in the cold

That expression of dynamism is certainly in strong evidence in the present etching, November, a distinctive Jugendstil work. Kirchner, a founding member of the Munich Secession art movement, gives vivid graphic representation to the breezy, cold conditions of a late autumn day in Germany. The composition’s long diagonal promenade of striding characters, each confronting the bitter wind in varying degrees of resolve, recedes sharply into the distance and arcs quickly around the corner of a building. In broad contrast to the otherwise undistinguished planes in the image, every individual is personalized through animated gesture and detail, including the dogs, and the low building facade is festooned with the marks of modern life and commerce. [Odol, the only legible poster depicted in the print, is the trade name of a line of toothpaste and mouthwash.] A remarkable balance of design, craft, and narrative effect, Kirchner’s November provides a striking example of the transitional period in pre-World War I art when 19th-century modes began to make way for Expressionism’s angst and the more cerebral inventions of pure abstraction.

Collection Spotlight: Judy Pfaff

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Judy Pfaff
(American, born in England, 1946)
Untitled (target, garden, lily pad), 2000
Photogravure, etching, lithograph, chine collé, hand-applied dye, applied leaves Edition: 30
Museum purchase with funds provided by the Dunlop Family Endowment and William Dunlop

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

Profiled in the PBS documentary series Art21: Art in the Twenty-First Century, Judy Pfaff appears in an episode titled “Romance” and yet, ironically, during the course of the interview she is seen welding steel and driving a forklift as she prepares for a major installation at a New York gallery. Since the mid-1970s the artist has gained international renown for creating environments using both industrial and natural materials. Writer Sheila Bermel has noted that these constructs are simultaneously “2-D, 3-D, architectural, metaphorical, allegorical, literal and abstract.” Object complexity is an integral part of all that Pfaff creates, evidenced equally in her monumental installations and multi-layered, intricate prints. Pfaff’s art has always transcended the traditional gallery box or picture frame, as demonstrated here in her stair-step ensemble of images.

Detail of lilly pad

A 19th-century botanical illustration provides the largest element in Pfaff’s collage of visual references. The gigantic species of water lily depicted here, Victoria Regia, named after the young English queen in 1937, became a favorite at botanical gardens where visitors flocked to be photographed standing on the floating pad. The print’s hand-applied green dye suggests the rippling surface of water and contrasts in its fluidity to the tightly rendered scientific drawing. The lower half of the image includes actual plant cuttings, a direct reference to the naturalist‘s practice of collecting and preserving specimens. Coupling these components with a photogravure of a carefully maintained Japanese garden, Pfaff surveys a natural world circumscribed by humans, suggesting that the landscapes we experience and appreciate are too often controlled and artificial, at odds with the idea of wilderness that once defined our vision of America. The image of concentric circles recurs in much of Pfaff’s work, evoking again waves across water, but connoting as well other forms of reverberation, the orbits of planets, or perhaps a target.

In anticipation of Auburn’s celebration of 125 Years of Auburn Women, curators will campaign to acquire work by women artists, thus adding to the 54 females currently represented in the collection. Learn more.

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Angle of Curvae in Curvae sculpture detail

Collection Spotlight: Beverly Pepper

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Beverly Pepper
Curvae in Curvae, 2011–12
Cor-Ten steel
Edition: 4/6
15 ¾ x 17 3/8 x 11 inches
Museum purchase with funds provided by the 1072 Society, 2014

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

With a career spanning over a half century, the artist Beverly Pepper creates forms derived from nature or antiquity using industrial materials, which are emblematic in their simplicity and visual eloquence. In the 1970s she began working with Cor-Ten steel, an especially weather-resistant industrial alloy used in bridges and other engineering constructs, to produce huge sculptures that resembled ancient totems. In recent years, she has moved from pillar forms to broken circles, spirals, and curves as reflected in this maquette of a monumental piece that measures almost nine feet in height. Pepper fabricates these pieces in her studio in Todi, Italy or in the nearby factory in Assisi working alongside metal workers. Like Auburn alumna, Jean Woodham, Pepper learned the physically arduous, industrial methods of cutting and welding heavy sheets of steel because she did not like delegating the actual work to fabricators.

Curvae in Curvae sculpture on pedestal
Angle of Curvae in Curvae sculpture detail

Pepper’s career as a sculptor took off in 1962 when she participated in the groundbreaking project that partnered her and nine male sculptors such as Alexander Calder, David Smith, and Arnaldo Pomodoro with steel factories across Italy. Entitled Sculture nella città (Sculptures in the City), the exhibition opened to great acclaim in Spoleto. Since then she has shown regularly in Rome and New York, receiving public and private commissions from across the globe.

A native of Brooklyn, Pepper worked her way through school at Pratt Institute in New York planning for a career in commercial art. After World War II, she decided to focus on fine art and moved to Paris in 1949, to study painting with Fernand Léger, André Lhote, and sculpture with Ossip Zadkine at the Académie de la Grand Chaumière. In 1951 she moved permanently to Italy. It was there in the early 1960s that she decided to focus on sculpture, first carving wood and then fabricating in metal. Pepper won the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center.

In anticipation of Auburn’s celebration of 125 Years of Auburn Women, curators will campaign to acquire work by women artists, thus adding to the 54 females currently represented in the collection. Learn more.

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A group of men bring more tree sections to a large landing.

Collection Spotlight: Clare Leighton

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Clare Leighton
(American, born in England, 1898–1989)
Canadian Lumber Camp Series: Cutting, Limbing, Loading, Landing, Resting, Breaking Camp, 1931
Edition: 100
Wood engraving
Museum purchase with funds provided by the Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowment for Museum Acquisitions

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

The daughter of popular fiction writers, Clare Leighton enjoyed a lively literary and artistic upbringing in London. She studied at the Brighton School of Art and the Slade School before perfecting her preferred medium, wood engraving, at Britain’s Central School of Arts and Crafts. Evident even in her earliest prints, Leighton favored depictions of rural and working class activities. Her delicately rendered imagery, full of painstaking detail, garnered many commissions for book and periodical illustrations. Leighton’s travels during the 1920s took her across Europe, providing inspiration for numerous subsequent wood engravings, and to America by the end of the decade, where she ultimately settled.

The six prints that constitute the Canadian Lumber Camp series resulted from a weeklong visit the artist made to a remote French-Canadian lumber camp in the Laurentian Mountains north of Ottawa in early 1931. Leighton presents the laborious cycle of timber harvesting in a sequence of richly textured, elegantly patterned images. Through the use of monochromatic black ink on off-white paper, Leighton elicits an almost infinite variety of subtle gray values––from the glistening, pale tones of snow under a winter sun to the shadowy dark grays that disclose the rough surfaces of tree bark, woolen flannel, and weathered skin. Engraved on large matrices of end-grain wood blocks, this series was the largest in scale Leighton had attempted to date. The artist described them to a friend while still executing the blocks as “by far the best things I’ve done.”

Two lumberjacks cut into a tree trunk in the snow.
Three lumberjacks cut tree limbs off a large section of wood.
Lumberjacks loading large tree sections into a big pile.
A group of men bring more tree sections to a large landing.
Lumberjacks retiring for the evening in a cabin.
Lumberjacks break down their camp.

In anticipation of Auburn’s celebration of 125 Years of Auburn Women, curators will campaign to acquire work by women artists, thus adding to the 54 females currently represented in the collection. Learn more.

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Print of Time Square at Night

Collection Spotlight: Yvonne Jacquette

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Yvonne Jacquette
(American, born 1934)
Motion Picture (Times Square), 1989–90
Edition: 60
Lithograph and screenprint
Museum purchase with funds provided by the 1072 Society, 2011

Whether seated in a Cessna airplane or a chair near the window in a high-rise, Yvonne Jacquette depicts the world from this very modern, elevated perspective and has done so for the past four decades. Her images capture the energy of the city as well as the complex sprawl of industrial centers, the organized chaos of waterfronts, and the grand sweep of imposed geometry across American farmlands. Her preferred aerial viewpoint results in unusual juxtapositions and spatial relationships that merge abstraction, representation, and surface pattern in richly hued paintings, drawings, and prints.

A visit to Japan, where Jacquette delighted in the bright and colorful contrasts of neon at night in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, formed the inspiration for her Times Square Triptych II, from which this print derives. That painting’s three oil panels feature neon billboards selling corporate America, high above wet streets filled with cars, pedestrians, and movie marquees. Jacquette used slashing brushstrokes to suggest the motion of the city in her painting and repeated the technique in producing this print, whose composition mirrors the central panel of the highly regarded triptych. Motion Picture’s dynamic design offers a dialogue between the bold, red-striped neon billboard in the near picture plane and strong receding diagonals of the traffic-filled street below. Light flickers off the wet pavement and the shiny metal surfaces of street vehicles. Headlights create rhythmic puddles on the olive drab roadway. A movie theater marquee lists different films of the 1980s, including Wim Wenders’ 1987 romantic fantasy Wings of Desire and Charlie Ahearn’s 1983 hip-hop classic Wild Style. These titles illustrate not only the wide range of art and entertainment found at the so-called “Crossroads of the World,” but also alludes to the demi-monde aspects that exist in the district. The vibrant image confirms that Times Square is best experienced at night when it is truly electrified, both literally and symbolically.

Print of Time Square at Night

Detail

Detail of print depicting Times Square, cars and movie marquee

In anticipation of Auburn’s celebration of 125 Years of Auburn Women, curators will campaign to acquire work by women artists, thus adding to the 54 females currently represented in the collection. Learn more.

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Print depicting a scene of a revolt

Collection Spotlight: Käthe Schmidt Kollwitz

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Print depicting a scene of a revolt

Käthe Schmidt Kollwitz
(German, 1867–1945)
Losbruch (Uprising, also known as Outbreak), 1902–03
Etching on copperplate paper Plate 5 from the cycle Bauernkrieg (Peasant War) State XII published by von der Becke, 1931
20 3/8 x 23 3/8 inches
Museum purchase

Most women born in the second half of the 19th century were not encouraged to become artists, but such was not the case for Käthe Kollwitz, the fifth child of Karl Schmidt, a mason with radical social democratic leanings, and his wife Katherina, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor who founded an independent congregation after being expelled from the state-sanctioned church. Perhaps it was this freethinking upbringing that resulted in Kollwitz’s deeply rooted social idealism which was evident throughout her artistic career. Always encouraged at home, her formal art education began at the age of 12 in her hometown of Königsberg, Eastern Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). At the age of 17 she enrolled at one of the few art schools in Berlin that permitted women. There she discovered the etchings of Max Klinger, whose technique and social concerns greatly influenced her. By 1888, while studying in Munich, she decided her true calling was drawing rather than painting. Her subjects at that time and for the rest of her career would be the working class and peasants she saw every day.

Print detail of woman raising her arms above her head

Peasant War was Kollwitz’s second major cycle of prints, which occupied her from 1902 to 1908. She had been appointed to teach graphics at the Berlin School for Women due to the success of her previous print cycle, known as The Weaver’s Revolt. This next series was commissioned by the Association of Historical Art. The title refers to the violent uprising of peasants against their feudal lords and the church which took place in the early years of the Reformation in Southern Germany (1522–25). In a letter to a friend she noted that she had read The General History of the Great Peasant’s War written in 1841– 42 by Wilhelm Zimmermann and had become fascinated by the legendary figure known as Black Anna who was said to have incited the insurrection. Kollwitz noted that she identified with this character who appears in this print urging the peasants forward, arms raised over her head.

The Peasant War series utilized of etching, aquatint, and soft-ground techniques and are among Kollwitz’ highest achievements as an etcher. Outbreak specifically reveals the experimental nature of the artist evident in the unusual tones and textures and the softer, grainier lines she attained in this image. This print is a later state but done within her lifetime, and reflects the stunning skills of one of the 20th century’s greatest printmakers.

In anticipation of Auburn’s celebration of 125 Years of Auburn Women, curators will campaign to acquire work by women artists, thus adding to the 54 females currently represented in the collection. Learn more.

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