Jackson T. Stephens Gallery
Jackson T. Stephens GalleryAugust 2015 – March 2016
This gallery demonstrates how drawing has played many roles for artists throughout the history of European art. For example, Bernardino Lanino’s lovely 16th century drawing on blue paper, Study for the Head of the Virgin, was a finished art work for a collector to enjoy. Girolamo da Carpi’s Greek Poet, by contrast, was a private exercise in which the artist learned from a contemporary, Francesco Salviati, by copying his drawing. Jan Müller’s Three Arts, drawn in about 1619, was also based on another artist’s work, but for a different reason. Müller, a master engraver, was calculating how he would translate the colors of a painting by Prague court artist Bartholomeus Spranger into a network of engraved black lines.
The gallery begins with a Mexican nineteenth-century painting that provides historical context for the special exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art. This painting created on a sheet of hammered copper contains the Christian symbols and European painting style that were brought to the Americas by Spanish settlers and introduced to native Christian worshippers and artists.
18th – 19th Century European and American Art
This gallery gathers landscape and portrait traditions that evolved through the 18th and 19th centuries and expanded from Europe to America. Artists in United States might not have had the academic training and the plethora of historical examples available to European artists, but they had an array of exciting people and places to represent. The Irish-born portraitist John Henry Byrd was shaky in his grasp of human proportions, but he conveyed the vibrant personalities of Mexican War and Civil War officer Thomas J. Churchill and his wife, Ann. Churchill moved from his native Kentucky to Arkansas to marry Ann; he was later elected governor of his new state.
A local collector has kindly lent the Arts Center examples of great nineteenth-century landscape paintings by African American masters. The first is by Robert Selden Duncanson, a Cincinnati-based artist who worked in the mode of the Hudson River School. Duncanson defied his self-taught status and the prejudice of the day to be dubbed by his contemporaries, “the best landscape painter of the West.” The second African American master represented is the Rhode Island-based Edward Mitchell Bannister, who admired the French Barbizon School and later moved in the direction of Impressionism.
Impressionism and Post-Impressionism
Impressionist artists rebelled against the academic traditions of representing nature. These new French painters of the late 19th century left their studios to rejoice in daily life; they studied real people and places, using direct visual observation of color and light rather than following preconceptions. Leading Impressionist painter Claude Monet advised his fellow artists, “Paint what you really see, not what you think you ought to see.”
Among the gems of Impressionism in this gallery are two paintings by Monet, including a view of sunset on the Seine River observed from the level of the water. Monet and his fellow Impressionists painted in swiftly applied dabs, racing to catch the colors of natural light before they changed. The precise academic descriptions of anatomy and perspective dissolved as the Impressionists concentrated on mood and perception.
Following the Impressionists, modern artists used their newly won freedom from tradition to explore an array of new concerns. Edward Vuillard, for example, took the Impressinists’ interest in modern life indoors to study the lives of his friends and family. Odilon Redon, however, looked to truths of the soul more than those of the body in paintings such as his retelling of the Greek myth of Andromeda, in which a woman is offered to be devoured by a monster in order to save her people.
Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery
Winthrop Rockefeller GalleryMarch 2016 – October 2016
The Arkansas Arts Center is proudly re-opening the Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery as a gallery dedicated to the display of its Modern and Contemporary collection. Three rooms explore the history of European and American modern and contemporary artworks created during the past century.
Two paintings by French Post-Impressionist master Paul Cézanne introduce the study of form and perception that captivated artists through the decades that followed. Among these was Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Before taking on his later realist style, the young artist worked in Paris, where he experimented with Cubism in such paintings as his 1914 masterpiece, Dos Mujeres. The remainder of the gallery gathers examples of work by artists who reacted to Cubism and other modern trends in their drawings and prints. Some explore the modern outer world in Cubism and Constructivism. Others look inward to the timeless realm disclosed by Surrealism.
An adjacent room of mid-twentieth-century American art illustrates Regionalism as exemplified by Oscar Berninghaus’s nostalgic 1930 depiction of rural New Mexico, Outskirts of the Pueblo. Arkansas masters on view include painters Louis Freund and Carroll Cloar. They are shown alongside their fellow Arkansan, the vernacular portrait photographer, Mike Disfarmer. Nearby are works by Southern self-taught African American masters, including vivid drawings by Bill Traylor and Minnie Evans, and an elemental stone rabbit by Tennessee carver William Edmondson. Long-time AAC patrons will be delighted to welcome back Donald Roller Wilson’s painting of his magical character, Naughty Betty.
Recent American art trends build upon or react against the seminal post-war American movement, Abstract Expressionism, represented by a drawing of natural forms by William Baziotes. Many later 20th century artists defy classification in their individual ways of creating art. Louise Nevelson used her original approach of bringing together found wooden objects in creating the monumental abstract sculpture Tide Garden IV. A different wooden construction appears through a preliminary drawing by Robert Stackhouse for his colossal wooden construction Inside Shiphall –at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
American studio craft works in glass, ceramics, enamel, and jewelry open windows into the history the studio craft movement. Intriguing parallels occur between craft and the other arts. The biomorphic abstract forms and colors of Harvey Littleton’s blown glass Cut Ruby Ellipsoid would be at home in a nature-based abstract painting.
The gallery also contains works from the AAC permanent collection intended to complement the special exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art. These include the politically engaged drawing, El Buen Pastor, by Mexican-American artist Luis Jimenez, created as the design for a lithograph. Visual themes like masks and blessing hands drawn from the pre-Columbian and European heritages of Latin America combine in the exuberant cast-glass sculpture ¿Qué me ves? (What Are You Looking At?) by Einar and Jamex de la Torre.
Virginia and Ted Bailey Gallery
William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s Admiration:
February 16, 2016 – May 15, 2016
A Special Loan
Organized by the Arkansas Arts Center
Adoring young women gather around the youthful, winged figure of Cupid, the Roman god of love. The immortal boy playfully points his amorous arrow at a lovely maid who clasps her bosom as if the dart of love has, indeed, struck home. The beautifully crafted painting, its figures rendered with ideal proportions in flawless perspective, was clearly produced by a master. This painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau displays the results as his training in the highest academic manner of the mid-19th century at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and other academies.
In 1850, the young artist won the Premier Grand Prix de Rome
, the top academic art prize of the day, which enabled him to study classical art in Rome for four years. This began his career as the leading French academic artist of his day; he triumphantly exhibited year after year in the massive annual exhibition known as the Salon. While classical subject matter was supposedly the most proper and edifying material an academic artist of the 19th century could portray, Bouguereau’s success arose at least partially from his ability to infuse a sense of naughty fun into his classical nude figures. That is certainly on display in this delightfully sensual image, which was a success both at the Paris Salon of 1899 and the Paris Exposition Universelle
This great neoclassical painting comes as a special loan from the San Antonio Museum of Art in exchange for an earlier loan from the Arkansas Arts Center of its 1914 Cubist masterpiece, Dos Mujers, painted by Diego Rivera when the Mexican artist was working in Paris early in his career. Admiration will be accompanied by a related drawing by Bouguereau. The painting and drawing will be complemented by a selection of academic figure drawings from the Arkansas Arts Center’s acclaimed collection of original works on paper. These will allow viewers to see how academic artists drew to study the figure so they could achieve the mastery we see in Bouguereau’s painting.
Paul Signac Gallery
WATERCOLORS AND DRAWINGS:
THE JAMES T. DYKE COLLECTION
January 2016 – July 2016
The scintillating watercolors and drawings of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century French artist Paul Signac are the focus of two intimate galleries at the Arkansas Arts Center that have recently been redesigned and reinstalled. The walls are filled with brilliantly hued views of harbors and gardens, historic towns and Paris streets. These works come from America’s finest collection of Signac’s graphic art, one hundred and thirty-three works that were assembled by Arkansan industrialist James T. Dyke. Mr. Dyke presented this magnificent collection to the Arkansas Arts Center in 1999.
While Paul Signac is famous for his oil paintings, he was equally a master of art on paper, which is the focus of these galleries. From an early date he made black and white drawings, often in conté crayon, to compose art works and to study details of his subject matter. In 1888, Signac’s fellow Neo-Impressionist painter, Camille Pissarro, suggested the medium of watercolor to Signac. Four years later, Signac followed his friend’s advice during a voyage to Saint-Tropez in his yacht in May 1892. When he began exhibiting his watercolors later that year, they were quickly successful with both art critics and buyers. By 1895 all of Signac’s studies from life were made in watercolor rather than with cumbersome oil paints on canvas. In addition to studies made out-of-doors, Signac also completed watercolors in his studio. Sketches and formally finished works, seascapes and still-lifes, show us Signac’s genius for art on paper.
The current exhibition includes several watercolors from Signac’s great project to paint the harbors of France. Signac had long had such a project in mind. In 1928, the artist’s friend, the businessman Gaston Lévy, commissioned him to make two watercolors each of a hundred harbors. Between 1929 and 1932, Signac busily depicted ships, docks and water-front architecture along France’s sea coasts and rivers.
Selected Works from the Signac Collection