Whistler and the World: The Lunder Collection of James McNeill Whistler at the Colby College Museum of Art

September 24, 2015 - January 10, 2016

Upper Jetté Galleries

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.”

Related Programming

Related Publications

Exhibition review: Bob Keyes, Colby shows off its Whistlers, Portland Press Herald, Sept. 20, 2015

whistlerandworldWhistler and the World
The Lunder Collection of James McNeill Whistler
Justin McCann

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.


Banner Image: James McNeill Whistler, Chelsea in Ice, 1864, Oil on canvas, 17 3/4 x 24 in., The Lunder Collection, 2013.293

Peter Soriano: Permanent Maintenance

September 24, 2015 - May 22, 2016

William D. Adams Gallery, Museum Lobby

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.

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Banner Image: Peter Soriano, Detail of work-in-progress in the artist's studio, 2015

Aesthetic Harmonies: Whistler in Context

September 17, 2015 - January 3, 2016

Lower Jetté Galleries

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.

Related Programming

Banner Image: Edward Steichen, Moonlight on the Narrows, 1905, Oil on canvas, The Lunder Collection, 2013.268

From the Studio: New Work by Faculty Artists

September 17, 2015 - October 25, 2015

Lower Jetté Galleries

Bringing together the work of Colby College faculty artists, From the Studio presents recent work by Bradley Borthwick, Bevin Engman, Gary Green, Garry Mitchell, and Scott Reed.

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Brand-New & Terrific: Alex Katz in the 1950s

July 11, 2015 - October 18, 2015

The Paul J. Schupf Wing for the Works of Alex Katz

The 1950s saw American artist Alex Katz (b. 1927) take up and master painting directly from nature, lay claim to Abstract Expressionism’s size and scale on behalf of figurative painting, and innovate with collages and cutouts. It was a decade in which he looked to the portraiture of Édouard Manet for lessons in the relationship between figure and ground, and the one in which he met Ada, his most enduring model. Given the overwhelming popularity of painterly abstraction, this was also a period when he destroyed hundreds of canvases, and those that survived had little to no audience. This major exhibition will introduce audiences to an overlooked body of work and consider it within the context of the aesthetic commitments of the decade. Brand-New & Terrific: Alex Katz in the 1950s features sixty-five paintings, cutouts, and collages, including many on loan from the artist and major public and private collections.

Details about the exhibition tour coming soon.

For press inquiries, please contact Francisca Moraga López.

Related Programming

Related Publications

Exhibition feature: Phil Hirschkorn, ‘The world caught up with me': Painter Alex Katz continues prolific work, PBS NewsHour, September 2015

Exhibition review: Geoff Edgers, Alex Katz at 88: Portrait of the artist unable to slow down, The Washington Post, July 2015

Exhibition review: Sebastian Smee, Alex Katz’s sweet spot: the hue of the ‘Brand-New’The Boston Globe, July 2015

Press release: Brand-New and Terrific Press Release



Brand-New & Terrific
Alex Katz in the 1950s
Diana Tuite

Celebrating an experimental decade in the career of Alex Katz, this book introduces audiences to a relatively unknown body of his work.




Banner Image: Alez Katz, Jack’s Fancy Fruit and Veg., 1951-1952, oil on masonite, 36 x 16 in. Gift of the artist, 1995.091. Art © Alex Katz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Highlights from the Permanent Collection

The Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion, Lunder Wing

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.