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For museum visitors who wonder what artists were contemplating when they created their artwork, an upcoming exhibition at the Colby College Museum of Art promises a glimpse. Titled The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture: 60 Years, the show, on view July 22 through October 29, also offers an overview of American art from the post-World War II era to the present.
The exhibition is comprised of works by some of America’s most notable visual artists and the lectures they delivered while on the faculty at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Featuring such artists as Roy Lichtenstein, David Smith, Agnes Martin, David Hockney, Richard Serra, Kara Walker, and Kiki Smith, the exhibition will give viewers a unique opportunity to connect the artists’ voices and ideas with the art itself.
“I think one of the things that makes this exhibition so special is that you’re not only looking at the work on view but you’re also listening to the artists express the ideas that they were engaged with at the time,” said Sharon Corwin, chief curator and director of the museum.
The exhibition brings together works by 27 distinguished Skowhegan artists and faculty and will span Skowhegan’s history since its founding in 1946. “Run by artists for artists,” The Skowhegan School is regarded as one of the most important art schools in the country.
The audio comes from the Skowhegan Lecture Archive — 560 recordings for which Colby was selected as one of just five initial repositories, along with the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C. This is the first time this archive will be the centerpiece of a major exhibition.
The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture was the brainchild of four artists—Henry Varnum Poor, Willard Cummings, Sidney Simon, and Charles Cutler—on a tranquil farm in rural Maine where converted chicken coops and barns were transformed into bustling artists’ studios. Over the past 60 years it has brought together artists for nine-week summer sessions to work with some of the most prominent artists of the day. The history of the Skowhegan School, celebrated by this exhibition, encapsulates many of the most important developments in postwar American art.
The illustrated catalogue contains a scholarly essay by David Driskell, nationally known artist and critic, on the history and legacy of Skowhegan. Entries also include illustrations of the works in the exhibition, selected excerpts from the Skowhegan Lecture Archive, an indexed list of Skowhegan faculty, a comprehensive bibliography of Skowhegan-related publications, and a list of Skowhegan-related exhibitions. The catalogue provides an engaging permanent record of the exhibition and is a key work for future scholars and artists studying the evolution of the Skowhegan School and American art of this period.
The Colby College Museum of Art is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free and the museum is accessible to people with disabilities. For more information call 207-859-5600 or visit the Web site at www.colby.edu/museum.