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.
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.
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.”
Artist feature: Ann Landi, Whistler: The Original Art Star, Artnews, December 2014
Art movement: Sebastian Smee, ‘Whistler’s Mother’ to visit Clark Art Institute in July, The Boston Globe, March 2015
Ellen Gamerman, Why Was Whistler’s Mom Such a Grump? The Wall Street Journal, July 2015
Related exhibition: “Whistler in Paris, London, and Venice.” Yale University Art Gallery. 1111 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06520. Friday, January 30, 2015–Sunday, July 19, 2015.
Related exhibition: Iconic Painting ‘Whistler’s Mother’ Arrives July 4 at the Clark Art Institute, The Clark Art Institute, May 2015
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.
Begun in response to the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Turning Back, an exhibition of 164 photographs by acclaimed photographer Robert Adams, will be on display at the Colby Museum of Art beginning February 2nd. According to Adams, “The theme of this [work] is the glory of the natural world and the tragic nature of human beings. The West is gone. What did we do with it? What have we traded for this great forest? What did we get in exchange?” For what he subtitled A Photographic Journal of Re-Exploration, the photographer headed East from the Pacific Ocean, photographing the evidence of irresponsible stewardship and unmitigated greed that he found in the forests along the way. He continued until he came upon a reason for hope in the orchards, pastures, and cottonwoods of Halfway, Oregon, about four hundred and fifty miles east of the Pacific.