Exhibitions Content Manager Elizabeth Goings takes us on an art history journey discussing how art historians treat artworks with missing information. For example, how do we date a painting with no date? Read on to find out!
Let’s start off with a question: when you, reader, go to a museum, what kind of art do you expect to encounter? Serious, dramatic works providing extensive commentary on social constructs relevant to the artist’s time period or works relevant to the present day? Well, those kinds of works will naturally be there, but how often do you hope to stumble across artwork that’s been created just for fun? If you’ve ever been in the mood for a more lighthearted art experience, today you’re in luck!
Professors from universities around the area bring their students to the Print and Drawing Study Center at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art to see works on paper from the permanent collection that are currently in storage. One of the most frequent requests is for the I Am a Man portfolio by African American photographer Ernest C. Withers (1922-2007). He is best known for his works documenting the Civil Rights Movement. Our Curator of Print and Drawings, Sachi, provides the background for Withers' photography career and the impact he had on the movement for equality.
Today’s ‘treasure’ is a little different than others we’ve selected. Dale Enochs’s Double Exposure is set apart from other treasures we’ve featured because they don’t often leave the vault. On the contrary—this sculpture is permanently installed in our atrium! It may seem as though I’m betraying the identity of this blog series, but I ask you this – how often do we become so used to seeing a work of art that we no longer take notice of its presence? My task today is to compel you to give this particular work a second look.
Today’s treasure comes from one of FWMoA’s hottest artists, Chuck Sperry. Sperry has been on the rock poster scene for over 20 years and his unique style has resulted in legions of fans who flock to his gallery openings for the chance to purchase one of his sumptuous prints. The women he features are synonymous with fantasized beauty – full lips, mysterious expressions, lithe figures, and perfectly tousled red ringlets. Justice, the print in FWMoA’s collection, embodies Sperry’s oeuvre.
Burroughs’ work in the visual arts took the form of painting, some sculpture, and a large body of relief prints. In Black Venus, Burroughs surely sought to reinterpret Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli’s iconic Birth of Venus. Dr. Alain Locke, along with other Harlem Renaissance intellectuals and writers, set out to redefine their image as the New Negro, which would counter the stereotypes associated with Jim Crow America. They challenged artists to forge a new, authentic iconography for a re-envisioned identity. The arts would draw inspiration from the South, the Caribbean, and pre-colonial Africa—their true cultural roots. Burroughs borrowed compositional elements from Botticelli’s painting of the classical goddess rising from the sea, but provides a renewed definition of beauty by replacing her fair hair and complexion with a rich, dark skin tone.
Over the course of his 30+ year career, Stackhouse has refined his style. He almost exclusively crafts around the forms of ships and snakes, believing that a great artist doesn’t need an abundance of new information. He’s found what works for him, and if it’s not broken, he doesn’t plan on fixing it.
This week’s treasure is a peculiar curiosity. Instead of a painting or print, this week I present a Concert Roller Organ! What is a Concert Roller Organ you ask? Well, it was only the most fashionable form of entertainment for working class Victorian Era Americans. See and listen to FWMoA's Concert Organ play you a tune in the video at the end of this post!
Our first official installment of Treasures from the Vault features one of FWMoA’s original treasures: Snails on Rhubarb. Painted in 1919 by German painter Richard Müller, Snails on Rhubarb is a whimsical study of foliage and the critters inhabiting this small ecosystem. Scattered over several large rhubarb leaves are snails, and a frog who seems to be mid-jump. A glimpse of a pond is seen in the background, which we can imagine as the home of our amphibious friend, his gastropod companions, and other creatures out of sight.
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!