This summer the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, will present never-before exhibited early drawings by the iconic American artist Will Barnet, a collection-based overview of the work of Winslow Homer, and the contemporary artist Sharon Lockhart’s selections from and installation of the collection to accompany her Maine-made Lunch Break works. The Colby Museum’s ongoing exhibitions dedicated to the work of James McNeill Whistler continue with a special exhibition of works by Whistler and his aesthetically minded peers. Also on view will be numerous new acquisitions including recently acquired works for the Lunder Collection and gifts from the Alex Katz Foundation.
The Search for Beauty: Whistler and His Time, May 20, 2010–January 2, 2011 Curated by Lauren Lessing, Mirken Curator of Education
James McNeill Whistler was a leading figure of the Aesthetic Movement, which began in England in the 1860s and, over the course of the next four decades, transformed Americans’ understanding of art’s purpose. Proponents of Aestheticism on both sides of the Atlantic sought to free art from its historical role of teaching moral and religious lessons. In their hands, art became a wellspring of beauty and a catalyst for sensual pleasure. Aesthetic artists believed that fine art as well as literature, music, decorative arts, interior design, and fashion had the power to infuse daily life with refinement and charm. These works by Whistler and his American contemporaries and followers exemplify the search for beauty that characterized the Aesthetic Movement.
Collecting Winslow Homer, June 26–October 31, 2010
Winslow Homer’s The Trapper, a painting from 1870, is one of the founding artworks of the Colby Museum’s collection. Its principal subject—man in harmony with nature—satisfied the desire among American collectors of the late 19th century for paintings that offered an alternative to the urban realities of industrialism. Drawn mostly from the Colby Museum’s permanent holdings, Collecting Winslow Homer presents this and other works by the artist in acknowledgement of the centenary of his death. Including examples from the full range of media that comprises Homer’s oeuvre, the exhibition demonstrates the remarkable achievement of a largely self-taught artist who began his career as a popular illustrator and spent his last years on Maine’s Prouts Neck peninsula, creating visionary images of the American landscape. Of the 16 works in the exhibition, 11 are drawn from the Lunder Collection, which was promised to the Colby Museum in 2007.
Will Barnet: New York Drawings & Prints, the 1930s, July 10–October 17, 2010
In 1930, at the age of nineteen, Will Barnet moved to New York City from his native Massachusetts to study at the Art Students League. The young artist responded to the city by exploring it on foot, preferring long walks to the stuffiness and darkness of his rented rooms. New York’s Central Park became Barnet’s refuge, a place where he slept on hot summer nights and where he quickly and discreetly drew the people he encountered. This exhibition presents a group of Barnet’s Central Park drawings from the 1930s as well as a selection of related prints made from the copper plates that he carried in his pockets and etched on site. Many these works have remained in the artist’s possession and have never been exhibited. Created during the Depression, the drawings and prints describe a world of human intimacy and affection thoroughly removed from the époque’s harsh realities. In the verdant oasis of Central Park, which Barnet remembers as the people’s “front yard,” he captured figures in repose, embracing couples, mothers and children, and everyday people so deeply absorbed in conversation that they rarely noticed the artist in their midst.
Catalogue A fully illustrated publication, Will Barnet: A Sketchbook, 1932–1934, accompanies the exhibition. This book includes a foreword by Will Barnet and an essay by Robert C. Morgan. Published in 2009 by George Braziller Publishers, New York, and distributed by W. W. Norton & Company, New York, it will be available for purchase at the Colby Museum during the exhibition.
Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break, July 10–October 17, 2010
This special installation of the exhibition Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break will include a group of works by other artists and artisans displayed in conjunction with works from Lockhart’s Lunch Break project.
Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break is organized by the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, part of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Presentation of the exhibition at Colby College is co-organized by the Colby College Museum of Art and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
Chuck Close: Self-Portrait/Scribble/Etching Portfolio, 2000
Chuck Close: Self-Portrait/Scribble/Etching Portfolio, 2000, organized in conjunction with the Picker Art Gallery at Colgate University and the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, is a presentation of the artist's 24 proofs and one final etching that are part of his 2000 self-portrait. The exhibition is drawn from the collection of Paul J. Schupf and will be showing at the Colby College Museum of Art May 1-September 21.
Chuck Close has been making self-portraits since the late 1960s. He bases these efforts on photographs that he takes of himself and then methodically, laboriously, repeatedly -- and always inventively -- translates into other media: paintings, drawings, textiles, and prints. Close's investment in such processes forms the subject of his portfolio. As Close described his intentions for the project: "…the best thing is if you can pull a rabbit out of a hat, and then stop and show somebody how you pull a rabbit out of a hat." The portfolio serves as an exploration of artistic process as well as a finished artwork in its own right. The exhibition also presents additional works by Close, providing a greater context for this monumental project.
In addition to the exhibition, the Colby College Museum of Art will present director-producer Marion Carjori's film, Chuck Close. This feature-length documentary follows Close as he creates a self-portrait, from Polaroid to final stroke. Screenings, co-sponsored by the Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) and the Art Kaleidoscope Foundation, will take place July 12 at 3:30 p.m. and July 17 at 1:30 p.m. As part of the museum's Noontime Art Talk series, Sharon Corwin, the museum's director and chief curator, will discuss the exhibition July 17 at 12:30 p.m., immediately preceding the film screening. Catalogue available
Joe Brainard: If Nancy Was
Joe Brainard: If Nancy Was presents 20 mixed-media works from Brainard's provocative If Nancy Was series, a recent gift of the Alex Katz Foundation. Brainard casts Nancy, the popular comic-book character, in a variety of roles that range from the provocative to the playful. Among these roles are Nancy as a face on Mount Rushmore, as a discarded Kleenex, as a de Kooning "Woman" painting, and as a building in New York City. The exhibit will be showing June 22-August 17.
A visual artist and writer closely associated with the New York School of the 1960s and '70s, Joe Brainard invented variations on commercial images and artifacts that have become icons of Pop art. From 1963 to 1978 Brainard created more than 100 works of art appropriating the classic comic book character, Nancy.
As part of the museum's Noontime Art Talk series, Lunder Curator of American Art Elizabeth Finch will discuss the exhibition July 10 at 12:30 p.m. On July 19 at 2 p.m., poet Ron Padgett will read from The Writings of Joe Brainard.
Masterpieces of American Folk Art
The Colby College Museum of Art's contribution to the Maine Folk Art Trail, Masterpieces of American Folk Art presents more than 50 works in a variety of media, from drawing and watercolor to oil painting, sculpture, and embroidery. An entire gallery of the exhibition will be devoted to the display of primitive portraits, many of which are drawn from the American Heritage Collection given to Colby by Edith and Ellerton M. Jette in 1956. Highlights are G.J. Griffin's A View From Freeport, Maine, an original cigar store wooden Indian, a painted fireboard, and a Victorian crazy quilt. Rounding out the exhibition are works on a range of folk subjects, including landscape, seascape, ship paintings, and still life.
As part of the museum's Noontime Art Talk Series, Curatorial Assistant Hannah Blunt will discuss the exhibition July 3 at 12:30 p.m. On August 10 at 2 p.m., the Colby College Museum of Art will play host to Ladies of the Lake, a traditional folk music ensemble specializing in instrumental tunes and ballads from Ireland, New England and Canada.
The Maine Folk Art Trail is a statewide institutional collaboration exploring the treasure troves of traditional American folk art in Maine. For more information about the Maine Folk Art Trail visit www.mainefolkarttrail.com.
A summer reception celebrating all three exhibitions, with a reading of Joe Brainard's writings read by poet Ron Padgett, is scheduled for July 19, 2-4 p.m.
Colby College Museum of Art
Founded in 1959, the Colby College Museum of Art has built a significant permanent collection of more than 5,500 works, with a focus on American and contemporary art. Selections from this collection are displayed in the museum's 24,000 square feet of exhibition space -- one of the largest museums in Maine. The collection includes areas of extraordinary depth. Major works by American artists John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, Winslow Homer, Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase and William Glackens form part of the historical collection; the modern movement is represented by important works by John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O'Keeffe, George Bellows, and Rockwell Kent. The museum also features a significant contemporary collection, including works by Richard Serra, Chuck Close, Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, Kara Walker, Elizabeth Murray, Alex Katz, and Terry Winters, to name a few. Other areas of the collection include Greek and Roman antiquities, European prints and drawings, American folk art, and early Chinese art.