Off the Cuff: The Human behind the Art, Manhattan’s Mercurial Muse Audrey Munson

The history of American art is filled with little-known human stories that I find generally more fascinating than much of the art.  Today, I’m thinking about a young artists’ model, Audrey Munson, whose mercurial rise to fame was as unlikely as her despairing descent into the black void of the rest of her life. At the golden dawn of the 20th Century, Audrey Munson, an impoverished pre-teenager, caught the eye of photographer Felix Benedict Herzog as she pressed her face against a department store window and soon thereafter became the most famous artists’ model in American history.

Treasures from the Vault: General Anthony Wayne

Today’s featured work is General Anthony Wayne, a painting by Edward Percy Moran. Moran completed the work in 1923, and he’s depicted General Wayne at the side of a wounded Revolutionary soldier who is holding the new American Flag. The two are overlooking an unknown battlefield, but, since they’re holding the flag high, we can assume that it was a victory for our fledgling nation!

Drawing Inspiration: Red Grooms

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards alum and mixed-media artist Red Grooms celebrates his 81st birthday on June 7. In its 95-year history, the Scholastic Awards have played an early role in the development of myriad influential and innovative artists. In Drawing Inspiration, we’ll celebrate them through their work in the FWMoA permanent collection.

Art Term Tuesday: Horror Vacui

I first encountered the Latin-derived term horror vacui several years ago while researching outsider art from the first half of the twentieth century. Simply put, horror vacui is the fear, or abhorrence, of empty space. In the past hundred years, this term has been used in discussions of interior design (for instance, Mario Praz's critique of Victorian-era design) and artwork in which a two- or three-dimensional space is filled with detail or objects. The presence of horror vacui in visual art can stem from an artist's overwhelming compulsion (perhaps related to mental illness) to leave no space vacant or from a conscious aesthetic decision to forgo negative space.

Docent Dialogue: Joan Bovee

Through our “Docent Dialogue” series we’ll learn a bit more about FWMoA’s greatest resources, the very special volunteers who make school tours possible—the Children’s Docents! They are the often-unsung heroes of the Children’s Education department and the roughly 7,000 students who tour the museum each year.

Artist Highlight: Michelle Andonian

This Picture I Gift, Michelle Andonian’s series featured in The National: Best Contemporary Photography 2018, is a documentary series that illustrates the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide. The effects of the genocide are especially meaningful for Michelle because her grandmother, Sarah, somehow escaped the chaos before it was too late. Only 9 years old at the beginning of the genocide in 1915, Sarah survived the massacre of 1.5 million Christian Armenians and displacement of hundreds of thousands at the persecution of the failing Ottoman Empire.

FWMoA: Reality TV

The Fort Wayne Museum of Art will collect, preserve and present American and related art to engage and educate broad and diverse audiences throughout the region to add value to their lives. I’ve copied and pasted this sentence into hundreds of grant proposals, stamped it into countless museum publications, analyzed its meaning with board members, worked with my colleagues to weave those activities into every museum program, and conveyed this message to every casual visitor who wanders onto the requisite “About” page of our website. Those 32 words define the work of this museum every day for the staff and board as we put our shoulders to the wheel in the name of art for the betterment of the community. But what does that work look like in real life? If life at FWMoA were a reality TV show, what would our producers exploit for the sake of juicy television?

Art Term Tuesday: What is Art?

In this section of the blog we’ll be attempting to define different types of terms as they relate to art and creative expression. Our definitions will be rooted in what’s generally accepted among art world peers, but infused with our personal observations. And, in the art world, just as in the “real” world, terms have double meaning. “Value”, for example, a common term, refers to the lightness or darkness of a color, or it can express what the art itself is worth. For our first term, however, I hope to define “art,” a daunting task to be sure!

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