AT LAST THE MONK MAKES AN APPEARANCE AT THE ADDISON
Signed American Oil O/C Winter Landscape Painting (<<< please click here to see it framed)
See Alfred Maurer: At the Vanguard of Modernism ending 7/31/2015 update below...
Exactly a year to the date, this agoraphobic winter germaphobe made another attempt to visit with the elusive: The Monk (1873) on exhibit at The Addison Gallery of American Art on the grounds of nearby Phillips Academy Andover.
This time it was not a gloomy New England day (see blog below dated March 8, 2013), but a glorious, sunny, balmy 48 degree day that brought New Englanders out in droves, some in bermuda shorts and eating ice cream no less, during a momentary reprieve from the multi feet snow days we have endured this winter.
Unable to wait and feast my eyes, after years of waiting to view the aforementioned George Inness's moody painting...the "Whistler - An American in London" exhibit downstairs was skipped for later viewing. The Monk was waiting!
The trip upstairs seemed to take forever. After the elevator doors opened, standing there in the hall, The Monk could be seen holding court on the far back wall. While standing there taking in the view from afar, it was as if Etta James suddenly strolled into my chochlea and began belting out: "At Last..."! Not being fully familiar with the lyrics, it was the first two words and the last few that made sense to me.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Dr. Allen, what a parting gift you left us all. While this was a thoroughly joyful visit, I was sorry to hear that he is no longer the Director at The Addison. What a loss for MA. He is now the VP at New York City's Historical Society Museum. Lucky NYC!
I was extremely fortunate to have sat in on a lecture of his two years ago, which "transported" me to the art lecture halls and gave me "a taste of what could have been", had a BFA been the choice instead of becoming a registered nurse so long ago. Although there are no regrets, as the natural sciences continue to hold my interest, an art degree program might have been a kinder way for me to pursue the business of art instead of the daily struggle of attempting to teach myself about painting...
BACK TO THE MONK: This painting is the reason the American painters of the 19th century became known to me. Without the benefit of a formal art education, the content of my self-learned body of art knowledge was woefully thin. After reading about this painter, his works, and those of his American predecessors and contemporaries, my quest was to learn more about our American painters. I have been "in love" with them since, foresaking all Europeans except for a handful of Romantics.
Although The Addison has owned The Monk since 1956, this is probably the first time in many years that he has been on exhibit for this length of time. Alas, although it was known to me that he was upstairs since September, my infrequent outings just made it impossible until this last week-end. Worth the wait.
This is a large oil painting that exudes emotion and is all "seelenvoll" in its depiction of a mysterious lone figure in a white robe amidst a dark green foreground that encompasses almost two thirds of the canvas. The dark umbrella shape trees, at the Italian Villa shown, seem to stand guard just in front of the fabulously warm, yellow, hopeful distance. Some could say, 'it is so darrrk'. Yes...but wait...beyond, the light awaits...
This juxataposition with the four other "light and dark" paintings on the same wall is spellbinding. Again, thank you Dr. Allen and curators.
To the left hangs another Inness tonalist painting titled The Coming Storm 1879, delicious warm greens, yellows and browns. Immediately to the left of it hangs the large Washington Allston's Italian Landscape (1805). This too depicting large dark green trees set instead against a dazzling display of white clouds and blue sky. Ohhh and then to the immediate right of the somber Monk, hangs the jubilant Alvan Fisher's Covered Wagons in the Rockies (1837) with the sublime peachy sky, the perfect balance as if yes, there is still something out there. To the right of that Alex Helwig Wyant's Landscape (1880).
What a bountiful balance of light and not so light, all assembled there to enlighten the visitor. On the wall to the left of those five fabulous paintings, thankfully Homer's The West Wind (1891) remains with the whitest white surf set against the dark dunes surrounding the waiting lady with the billowing skirt. It was all about "The light" in that gallery. While in another gallery R A Blakelock's (there is a sad tale) Sunsent Evening Silence (1892) for more light against darkness, as could be found in his paintings and personal life.
This exhibit also includes fabulous large Thayers (another sad fellow whose bio moves me), including works by Bellows, Benton, Bierstadt, Chase, Church, Copley, Durand (one of his works positively moved me to tears while on display in Salem MA a few years back), a couple of Eakins, Heade, more Homers (I admire his time spent painting), a couple of Hoppers, to name just a few. There is also a collection of ARTFUL POSES on the same floor. All belonging to this fine gallery of American art that we here in MA are so lucky to find in our own backyard.
After standing for as long as I could while staring at "The Light" paintings, then promising myself to return before this exhibit ends next month, a trip downstairs to view nearby Lowell's own son Whistler was in order.
On the wall you can read the following: "AN AMERICAN IN LONDON: WHISTLER AND THE THAMES was organised by the Addison Gallery of American Art, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, and the Freer Gallery of Art /Arthur M Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
Through generous support provided by Edward P Bass (Phillips class of 1963) on his 50th reunion, in honor of Brian T Allen (by the Bass Foundation); Thomas C Foley (Class of 1971) and Leslie Fahrenkopf Foley; Leslie G Callahan III (Class 1968) and Barbara Keenan Callahan; David Carter (Class of 1941) and Louise Carter; The David L Older Fund, the Keamy Family Foundation; The Lunder Foundation and others".
We thank them all for their generosity in bringing such art exhibits to the Merrimack Valley, as if to our own backyard.
The house of his birth still stands as a museum in nearby Lowell MA. I must say that he pretty much clicked his heels, left MA and never looked back, living most of his life in England where he went broke after suing Ruskin the critic who did not speak well of Whistler's work. Aaah those pesky critics. ...those who can, do, those who can't, criticize...? This bit of gossip, however, is not included in the info shared by The Addison.
There is however a copy of a letter Whistler wrote to someone describing a painting he was finishing, which was giving him trouble while attempting to paint his golden haired mistress (one of a few). Many, many lines ended in an exclamation point! That ole boy liked those "!!!" There is so much to see and enjoy, so go visit and make new memories.
ABOUT THIS BACKYARD PAINTING: A year ago, while disappointed in not finding the aforementioned tonalist ...(please read blog below Mar 8, 2013), I painted Fallen Birches, a colorful attempt to console myself...
Two months ago while visiting an elderly lady whose house was being prepared for sale, a visit to her backyard became my muse for this painting. It was in the single digits not counting wind chill with two feet of backyard snow, therefore notes, photos, & sketches were made from a higher window. Using a very limited palette of three, this warm and cool toned winter backyard woods scene is of that freezing cold cloudy day: when suddenly the sun, as it was making a fleeting appearance under the cloud cover, shot a few golden - russet rays onto the mid section of some trees for a short minute at most. It soon got quite dark. Then the last visitors could be seen...a cardinal and a pair of doves taking their last bite before the roost...
After viewing The Monk, I was able to continue working on this painting...
All images design concept content text are original and solely owned by Mimi Dee and may not be reproduced in any form. March 8, 2014
...and yes, I went to see "him" one more time before the exhibit ended.
Spring - July 31, 2015 Alfred Maurer UPDATE:
Hurry, as this Addison Gallery of American Art - Alfred Maurer: At the Vanguard of Modernism exhibit ends July 31, 2015...
Don't forget to stop by the gift shop to acquire the fabulously delish accompanying exhibit catalog by Stacey B. Epstein with a forward by Susan C. Faxon. All color plates!
Venturing out to the Addison Gallery of American Art, a littler later than usual for one of my infrequent outings especially after our nine foot snowfall in New England this past winter, was a joyful experience once again. Without any formal art instruction, the Alfred Maurer - Alfred Stieglitz connection was vaguely known to me, so the expectation was that the exhibit would be all modernism... which would be just fine.
Oh to have the ability and to live long enough to produce at least three styles in three stages of one's life! Imagine my surprise to view his figurative work, having only known about his fauvist landscapes and expressionist still lifes.
As I write this, knowing that I am not an art critic nor do I play one on TV... coupled with my lack of art education...these descriptions and opinions are written as a result of a novice who just appreciates the art that this precious museum brings to our community.
The first 13* paintings, his figuratives, were seen with the eye of my previous experience as an art to wear fiber artist... when I still had my little store studio gallery...therefore fashion colors rather than the artist's palette will be used to describe them. That is...it was his treatment of the fashion and clothing his models wore, presumably from his own collection of fashion and accessories of the late 19th century and the early 20th... that caught my eye. Most of these paintings, while painted in delish rich dark browns, rich and "rum raisin" again a fashion color description...blacks, and brilliant whites... many superbly juxtaposed with small splashes of brilliant red!
Yes, one should see Whistler - born a few miles from here - in Maurer's palette, but all I could think about was the stark contrast of the white surf in Homer's The West Wind (1891) in the Addison's permanent collection...which can still be enjoyed along with Hoppers, Homers and Twachtmans in another gallery. Interestingly, on page 31 of the aforementioned book, Miss Epstein writes that Homer and Eakins among three others judged Maurer's An Arrangement (1901), the 10th painting at this exhibit, to win the gold medal at the Carnegie International.
As an avid collector and wearer of hats, how could these earlier works not appeal to one who use to make fiber art to wear...
The first of his figuratives: Woman in Pink (Portrait of Roselle Fitzpatrick) 1902... if you stood there long enough...you could almost hear the rustle of the pinkish peachy taffeta, against a lot of brown wall and floor. He repeats this similar pinkish peachy color with the 13th and last in this group titled The Peacock (Portrait of a Woman) 1902. Here, a good third of the painting consists of a very long printed robe on a woman perhaps taking one last look at herself in a smallish oval wall mirror before retiring... and an open door to her left... The other third is taken up by a wall with a partial cast shadow of her body. The hues, again with the eye on fashion colors, are just yummy.
In between the first and the 13th painting, you will find: At the Shore (1901). Then The Rendezvous (1905) with rich darks against an expansive mushroom color half wall which takes up half of the painting, with two people wearing colorful hats one blue and one red at the far right and over on the lower left... a woman in all black with a black poodle wearing a bright red bow.
Followed by Le Bal Bullier (1900-01). Blacks, browns white...and there it is...a red hat! Then Le Bal Au Moulin Rouge (1902-04), more or less the usual palette accented with a woman at mid left wearing...you guessed it....a bright red blouse...at far mid right a woman's bright red purse and red accented hat, adds "that pop" as current fashion celebrates.
Just when you are enjoying all those delicious little bright red accents...comes the large portrait of Jeanne (1904), all dressed in white, cigarette in hand... with her pasty white complexion and a black sash against a dark background. Looking for the customery happy bright red...all you can see just over her feathered boa...I am afraid... are her lips framing a dull vampiric sneer and her dark, dark eyes....staring at the viewer.
This followed by The Cafe (1904). Then Carrousel (1901-02) the bright red returns in the form of the carrousel awning just at the top edge of the painting.
Yay! The bright red hat does not disappoint in Model with a Japanese Fan (1902-04). Here Jeanne, all dressed in black this time, thankfully has recovered a healthier complexion and staring once again at the viewer...
Then the celebrated An Arrangement (1901), for which he won the much coveted Carnegie International gold medal, that both Homer and Eakins judged. The model, whose back faces the viewer, wears a white high collared blouse and a huge bouffant black skirt that encompasses almost 2/3 of the canvas. Although the painting is not huge, the skirt's folds seemed to have been painted with a huge brush or maybe even his hand! Because my mind is a very noisy mind, and even though I prefer to paint "quietly" , Not painterly with rare the use of red... Maurer's brave, bold, strokes were admirable and seemed to take a life of their own.
Aaaahhh, then the positively delish, delightful palette of Young Woman in Kimono (1901) with the different tones of browns and tans, with the bright red kimono front trim and around its edge rounding out in front of a chair and the table's scarf also accented with bright red and just a bit of bright blue. This was stunning! Then next to the last, Girl in White (1901) does not disappoint with the whitest of white dress and black shawl...and no...no red here...
After the fashion parade which I thoroughly enjoyed, enter the next gallery with his very bright and boldly painted Fauvist flat landscapes and still lifes. I begin to imagine...As if he may have said to his successful Currier & Ives traditional painter father Louis, "okay, been there, done that...I proved that I am very capable of handling figuratives and a well managed palette...now is the time to relax and have fun..." Wow! Did he ever experiment! Lacking the art knowledge to describe these to you the reader...please go and enjoy them in person. Particularly the 12 smalls.
In another gallery, you will find his continued flat planes and abstractions among which you will find Still Life with Calla Lily and Roses (1925-26). Hmmmmm...where in my studio are the callas that I painted years ago.... In Still Life with Pears (1930 -31), he brings back his brown, black and white palette, but this time no bright red to be found...instead he tints it to make pink.
Then on to his cubist ladies with the elongated Modigliani necks, big huge eyes and cloissone black outlines. How he may have disappointed his traditional painter father...one wonders...
He successfully pursued different styles of painting...the last to suit himself.
In 1932, a few weeks after his father's death, Alfred hung himself.
Please visit the Addison Gallery of American Art on the grounds of the historic Phillips Academy in Anodver MA - where the curators have done an impressive job making Maurer's paintings tell us a story to remember.
Visit the gift shop to purchase the accompanying book, enjoy this exhibit, then walk across the street as we did for a delicious meal at Andover Inn's Samuels...don't forget to try one of Bob's enticing martinis...
After my visit, feeling encouraged in my studio...a tonalist "quiet" limited palette of three - landscape painting is beginning to emerge...Will share that with you at a later date.
Mimi --June 2015
*CORRECTION: I had to return once more to visit this exhibit before it closes July 31. There are 15*, not 13 paintings in the main gallery which include two smallish ones titled:Rockaway Beach and Rockaway Beach with Pier both dated c.1901.
I have also read some harsh posts on one site or another about Maurer's work and about modernism being a poor excuse to make art,...which got me thinking...what if he was already going against the grain while producing his early tonalist realist works? Why else would he add bright reds to his tonalist works? Personally, I loved the contrasts, again...looking at them with style and fashion in mind...rather than "art rules to be followed"
PS: there is also a small exhibit just past the library curated by art students, which includes Homer's Eight Bells. There were other works from the Addison's permanent collection, but a small one on a far back wall caught my eye. It is Joshua Shaw's After the Storm. I chose to look away from the wreckage and concentrated on that glorious pinkish hopeful sky beyond with optimistic golden touches. This exhibit demonstrates such maturity on the part of the student curators. Don't miss this!
Mimi -July 2015.
Winter - Dec 2014 TONALIST UPDATE: Hurry, as this Addison Gallery of Amercian Art exhibit ends Jan 4, 2015...
There is a fabulous, fabulous Tonalist exhibit which includes The MONK. More Inness works, a Blakelock, an Alex Wyant, some Twachtmans and several limited palette oils by Dwight Tyron who painted in South Dartmouth MA for 40 summers, which can be viewed at The Addison. This all thanks to the new director, Judith F. Dolkart along with curators Keith Kauppila and Susan Faxon. What a brilliant start for Ms. Dolkart as the Addison's new director!
The Addison Gallery of American Art exhibit: Dwight Tryon and American Tonalism, curated by the independent scholar Keith Kaupplia, is an eye opener for those of us without an iota of an art education. I am sorry that I missed his lecture this past September.
To read about this painter, his art and those who brought his work to us, please visit: http://www.phillipian.net/articles/2014/09/18/new-addison-exhibition-studies-serenity-and-simplicity to learn more about the passion it takes in bringing important American paintings to enlighten those of us who may have never otherwise had such an opportunity to experience.
No question that my love affair continues with Inness, my first tonalist, but Stilly Night - 1917 by Tryon was a small vision to behold! Here Tryon indulged in some red "greenery"; and oh that glow that warms the viewer from across the gallery! Although the Tryons are on loan for just a short while, The Addison's permanent collection is always a comforting friend to visit again and again...
Exhibition History of the oil featured above: The original oil snow landscape painting titled: Backyard Winter Glow, was shown at the North Shore Arts Association Gallery Exhibit I and can now be viewed by visiting www.mimideeartwer.com and searching # : 1242270.
All text content is original and solely owned by Mimi Dee and may not be reproduced in any form - December 1, 2014