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Artist-to-Artist Talks will be Available at The Art Institute of Chicago, Colby College in Maine, the Getty, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art
Skowhegan Also Launches New Initiative to Make Alumni Art Available Online
New York, NY, December 19, 2003–Continuing its commitment to fostering excellence in American art, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture will donate its Lecture Archive, an unparalleled collection of talks on contemporary art and ideas by some of the greatest minds of the 20th century, to five leading art museums across the United States. Including more than 500 lectures from 1952 to the present by visual artists, poets, architects, philosophers, journalists, curators, historians and choreographers, the Skowhegan Lecture Archive comprises recorded talks delivered by artists and visiting faculty to artists-in-residence during the school’s intensive annual summer program in rural Maine.
The Lecture Archive, which will be publicly-accessible in 2004 at the libraries of The Archives of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, Colby College in Maine, the Getty in Los Angeles, and in the archive of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, is a unique resource that reflects the scope and depth of post-war American art. Individually, these candid, informal talks offer insight into the careers and creative processes of some of the most pioneering artists of our time, and collectively, they form a continuous dialogue on art over the last five decades. The Archive encompasses early recordings by visual artists Ben Shahn (1954, 1955, 1959, 1964) and David Smith (1954, 1956), and more recent talks by Fred Wilson (1995, 2002) and Janine Antoni (1998), as well as discussions with non-visual artists like Buckminster Fuller (1968) and writer bell hooks (1993). Highlights include: five separate lectures by Jacob Lawrence spanning 42 years of his career; a 1967 talk by Ad Reinhardt given just months before his death; a discussion on collaboration between John Cage and Merce Cunningham (1967); Gary Hill discussing time and technology (1996); Vito Acconci on the artist’s body in art (1998); and Shirin Neshat on finding the medium (2001). Additional artists in the collection include Robert Arneson, Richard Artschwager, John Baldessari, Ross Bleckner, Carroll Dunham, Eric Fischl, Helen Frankenthaler, Nan Goldin, David Hockney, Robert Indiana, Alex Katz, Agnes Martin, Alice Neel, Claes Oldenburg, Tom Otterness, Martin Puryear, Robert Ryman, Richard Serra, Kiki Smith, Robert Storr, Fred Tomaselli, James Turrell, Lisa Yuskavage, William Wegman and Robert Wilson, among many others.
“The Skowhegan Lecture Archive is a unique catalogue of America’s artistic heritage, and as a school dedicated to furthering that tradition, we are thrilled to share it with a wider public,” said Ann L. Gund, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “Because these are artist-to-artist talks, there is an exceptional intimacy and openness to this body of lectures that you don’t see in more formal, structured lectures.”
Originally recorded on reel-to-reel tape, the Skowhegan lectures have been digitally recorded onto a collection of over 700 CDs, preserving them for posterity. Through this donation of five gift sets to the libraries of museums nationwide, Skowhegan will make these invaluable collections available to students, fellow artists and researchers, as well as the general public. The original reel-to-reel recordings will also be housed at the Archives of American Art. In the future, Skowhegan plans to make additional copies of the Archive available, at cost, upon request. Funding for the Lecture Archive was provided by the Luce Foundation, with additional support from the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
“Skowhegan offers a singular environment for developing new work,” said artist William Wegman, a former Skowhegan faculty member and current member of the Board of Governors. “The beauty of the place and the energy of the company are natural stimulants for creativity. Skowhegan lectures are essentially conversations among peers about inspiration, process, and the context in which we create. This archive captures those important conversations and this gift is just one more way that Skowhegan is advancing the development of art for current and future generations.”
The Skowhegan lectures include formal commentary on the artist’s creative approaches, as well as personal anecdotes and words of wisdom shared with audiences of fellow artists. When painter Alice Neel came to Skowhegan in 1981 at age 81 she shared the following advice: “All you have to do to paint is to paint… work! Because even when I wasn’t painting, I was thinking about painting. And then of course, train your memory; that’s a great thing.”
Skowhegan alumni often remark on the invaluable impact their residency has had on their creative development. Alex Katz made the following observation about his experience as a resident artist in 1949, in a 2002 interview with The New Criterion: “At Skowhegan I tried plein air painting and found my subject matter and a reason to devote my life to painting. The sensation of painting from the back of my head was a high that I followed until the present.”
Alumni Art Registry
In a second initiative that will foster access to and connections among American and international artists, Skowhegan is launching the Alumni Art Registry, a publicly-accessible database of alumni artwork that will be available January 1 on the Skowhegan Web site at www.skowheganart.org. In response to growing interest among alumni to share their work with other members of the Skowhegan community and beyond, each artist’s page on the Skowhegan site will feature a rotating gallery of up to three images and descriptions of their work, as well as contact information and links to personal and/or gallery sites. This new resource, available free to Skowhegan alumni, will make their work accessible to other artists, writers, students, curators, exhibition spaces, educational institutions and the general public internationally.
Founded in 1946 on lakeside farmland in rural Maine, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture has served as an unparalleled resource for artists and a catalyst for the advancement of their work. Founded by artists, and still governed by artists, Skowhegan provides a rigorous, supportive atmosphere in which emerging artists are encouraged to work and explore free from the expectations of the marketplace and academia. From Ellsworth Kelly and Janet Fish, to Sanford Biggers and Jennifer Zackin, Skowhegan alumni represent a diverse line of some of the most influential artists of the last five decades.
Skowhegan, in both its physical and programmatic design, provides an opportunity for intense work and creative interaction. Over the years, the Skowhegan faculty has included many of the most respected artists of our time. All participants, faculty and staff are provided with living quarters set on a large lake, all meals, and a studio space (open 24 hours a day) a short walk away among woods and rolling pastures. Studios are open 24 hours a day. In order to offer the experience to as many as possible, artists cannot return for a second summer. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.