This installation features highlights from the museum’s permanent collection, including several recent acquisitions on view for the first time, as well as two important loans. Many of the artworks on display in A Singular Vision touch upon themes of pairing, doubling, and repetition. In some cases, these are formal devices, with Katz coupling figures off or depicting a subject multiple times within a single canvas. Elsewhere this entails his return to particular models or motifs over the course of his career.
In his Ten O’Clock Lecture in 1885, James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903) presented himself as an artist set apart from the public, bearing no relation to the historical moment he lived in. However, the myth of artistic independence that Whistler developed was but one part of a complex and highly significant relationship he had with the world around him. As a painter, printmaker, and designer, Whistler engaged with a variety of places, people, and ideas that stretched from the United States to London, Venice, and Japan. Drawn entirely from the renowned Lunder Collection, this comprehensive exhibition—featuring the finest examples of his prints among works in other media—explores Whistler’s travels across Europe in his quest to re-imagine his surroundings and to transport the modern world into the “realm of art.”
Exhibition review: Bob Keyes, Colby shows off its Whistlers, Portland Press Herald, Sept. 20, 2015
Drawn entirely from the renowned Lunder Collection, this comprehensive catalogue places Whistler in a dynamic international and cosmopolitan context, and includes the finest examples of his prints.
The Colby College Museum of Art has commissioned Peter Soriano to create a major wall drawing for its lobby gallery. Entitled Permanent Maintenance, this new work, which the museum has acquired for its collection, will be installed between September 9 and 23, when the lobby will be open to the public for viewing of the work-in-progress. Composed of acrylic and spray paint applied directly to the wall, this monumental, multipart work will span approximately one hundred linear feet divided into three integrally linked sections.
Soriano has taken inspiration for each section of the piece from specific sites on the Colby College campus, employing these sources to initiate a constellation of associative marks and notations. Evocative of the codes and symbols used by surveyors and suggestive of hypothetical architectural plans, Soriano’s visual translations of his impressions and perceptions captures, as the artist has observed, “the disquieting manner in which…appearances are altered depending on one’s perspective.”
Following the premiere of Permanent Maintenance, the individual sections of the work are designed to be recreated elsewhere. This open, adaptive approach defines Soriano’s creative process. Working from initial drawings and notes, he enacts the wall drawings to scale in his studio, working section by section and producing a set of instructions for each visual element. Structured into these instructions are opportunities for the contributions of others, and the Colby project will include a team of student installers and other participants when the piece is realized on site. While related to the wall drawings of such artists as Sol LeWitt and Mel Bochner, Soriano’s works give form to uniquely fluid and adaptive interrelations between object, site, and studio—as well as future sites—that distinguish his contribution from earlier manifestations of conceptually informed art.
Throughout the development of the project, Soriano generates associated but independent drawings on paper, combining marks, cuts, and folds into intuitive compositions. A selection of these project drawings will be on view in the Sally and Michael Gordon Gallery.
About the Artist
Born in 1959 in Manila, Philippines, Soriano received his B.A. in Art History from Harvard College and studied at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture before moving to New York City in 1981. Beginning in the 1990s, he made a series of internationally recognized fiberglass sculptures. In 2004, during a residency at the Atelier Calder, Soriano experimented with readymade materials—among them, aluminum pipe, steel cable, and nylon webbing—that became the underpinnings of his first wall installations. As the wall works progressed, he added spray-painted lines and symbols, then eliminated the structural elements altogether to allow the notational vocabulary he had developed to become the sole source of his imagery. In New York, Soriano is represented by the Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., where one of his first wall drawings appeared. He has also realized wall drawings in Busan, South Korea; Brussels; and in Paris, where he is represented by Galerie Jean Fournier.
Aesthetic Harmonies explores the many artistic, social, and historical contexts in which we can situate the artist James McNeill Whistler. Drawing from the museum’s rich collections of European, American, and Asian art, the exhibition reexamines Whistler’s relationship to the Etching Revival in Britain, French Realism, American Impressionism, and transatlantic Aestheticism. It also places the artist’s experiments with color, form, beauty, and nature in dialogue with early American modernism, mid-twentieth-century abstraction, and contemporary art. Aesthetic Harmonies thus constructs a history of modern art through Whistler’s diverse practices, philosophies, and influences. This exhibition is curated by Associate Professor of Art Tanya Sheehan and the students in AR497 (Fall 2014); Maria Bowe ’15, Catherine Maguire ’15, Caroline Pelham ’17, Francesca Soriano ’16, Veronica Vesnaver ’15, and Marina Wells ’15.
This exhibition showcases the reinstallation of the Museum’s permanent collection galleries and the integration of works from the Lunder Collection with the Museum’s core holdings, including recent gifts from the Alex Katz Foundation, and select loans. Supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, this display reflects the Museum’s ongoing commitment to a comprehensive representation of American art from the nineteenth century through the present.
Highlights include David Smith’s steel Voltri Bolton II(1962), Maya Lin’s monumental marble sculpture Disappearing Bodies of Water (2013), a meter box by Donald Judd (1977), and Robert Mangold’s 18 acrylic and pencil drawings (1991) given by the Alex Katz Foundation. Cherished cornerstones of the collection, such as Albert Bierstadt’s View of Chimney Rock (1860) and Winslow Homer’s The Trapper (1870) will be featured, as well as recently acquired works by Frederic Edwin Church, William Matthew Prior, and Joshua Johnson.