High So­ci­ety

Amer­i­can art so­ci­eties are the sub­ject of a new ex­hi­bi­tion at Men­coni + Schoelkopf

American Fine Art Magazine - - Museum Preview: Doylestown, Pa -

Amer­i­can art so­ci­eties are the sub­ject of a new ex­hi­bi­tion at Men­coni + Schoelkopf

Jan­uary 15-Fe­bru­ary 9 Men­coni + Schoelkopf 13 E. 69th Street #2F New York, NY 10021 t: (212) 879-8815 www.ms­fin­eart.com

Wa­ter­color in Amer­ica had ex­isted at the edges of the es­tab­lished art world un­til the for­ma­tion of the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Artists in Wa­ter Color (now the Amer­i­can Wa­ter­color So­ci­ety) in 1866. Its pur­pose was, and is, “to pro­mote the art of wa­ter­color paint­ing in Amer­ica.” Its first ex­hi­bi­tion was in 1867 at the Na­tional Academy. at­tend­ing one of its ex­hi­bi­tions moved Winslow Homer to ex­per­i­ment more with the medium and to be­come one of the coun­try’s most ad­mired painters.

The Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Painters in Pas­tel had a short ex­is­tence, be­ing formed in 1881, hav­ing the first of four ex­hi­bi­tions in 1884 and dis­band­ing in 1890. Nev­er­the­less, it at­tracted some of late 19th cen­tury’s best artists in­clud­ing Childe Has­sam, Ce­cilia Beaux and John Henry Twacht­man. Its brief pres­ence on the scene was ex­traor­di­nar­ily in­flu­en­tial. Men­coni + Schoelkopf in Newyork is cel­e­brat­ing a cen­tury of Amer­i­can wa­ter­col­ors, pas­tels and works on pa­per.the first of two ex­hi­bi­tions, Master­works of Amer­i­can Art On Pa­per, Part I, fea­tur­ing works from 1865 to 1915, in­cludes ma­jor ex­am­ples of works that el­e­vated wa­ter­color and pas­tel as wor­thy me­dia and “ad­vanced con­sid­er­ably the pos­si­bil­i­ties of pa­per as a proper sup­port for a mas­ter­piece.” Mau­rice Pren­der­gast (1858–1924) was born in Canada but moved to Bos­ton with his fam­ily when he was 10. He stud­ied in Paris from 1891 to 1894 and, on his re­turn, at­tracted pa­trons who en­abled him to spend time in Italy in 1898 to 89. His wa­ter­color Ital­ian Flower Mar­ket is from that pe­riod. His paint­ing shows the in­flu­ence of the Euro­pean avant-garde, in which his forms and colors are di­vided to bring at­ten­tion to the sur­face of the paint­ing rather than ob­tain verisimil­i­tude. He brought his

dis­tinc­tive style to scenes of ev­ery­day life in the city and at the sea shore.

Paris also in­flu­enced John La Farge (1835-1910), but it was there that he dis­cov­ered the English Pre-raphaelite painters who would in­flu­ence his work. La Farge painted mu­rals, no­tably for H.H. Richard­son’s Trin­ity Church in Co­p­ley Square, Bos­ton, and de­signed and ex­per­i­mented with stained glass. He used wa­ter­color to de­velop the ideas for his mu­rals but on his ex­ten­sive trav­els, wa­ter­color was his medium of choice. One jour­ney in 1890 to ’91 took him and his friend Henry Adams (18381918) to the South Seas. His bril­liant­ly­col­ored Por­trait of Faase,thetaupo of Fa­ga­loa Bay, Samoa, is from that jour­ney. Adams’ jour­nal The Ed­u­ca­tion of

Henry Adams was pub­lished posthu­mously and won the Pulitzer Prize. La Farge was also an ac­com­plished writer. In his Rem­i­nis­cences of the South Seas, he wrote, “The taupo is a young woman elected by the vil­lage for the pur­pose of di­rect­ing all so­cial ameni­ties in which women can take part. It is for her to re­ceive the guests, to know who they are and what cour­te­sies should be ex­tended to them; to pro­vide for their food and lodg­ing. If they are great peo­ple like our­selves, for their be­ing at­tended, for their hav­ing all small com­forts of bath and soft mats and tappa, for their be­ing talked to and sung to and danced to.”

William J. Glack­ens (1870-1938) took a less ro­man­tic view of his sub­jects. Be­gin­ning in 1894 he was a staff artist at the Philadel­phia Press with an ex­tra­or­di­nary group of fel­low artists—john Sloan, Ed­ward Davis, Ge­orge Luks and Everett Shinn. He was a friend of Al­bert C. Barnes and helped him as­sem­ble the famed Barnes Col­lec­tion. He was an or­ga­nizer of the Amer­i­can sec­tion of the 1913 Ar­mory Show that brought the best of the Euro­pean avant-garde to Amer­ica. At that time he wrote, “ev­ery­thing worth­while in our art is due to the in­flu­ence of French art.we have not yet ar­rived at a na­tional art… I am afraid that the Amer­i­can sec­tion of this ex­hi­bi­tion will seem very tame be­side the for­eign sec­tion. But there is a prom­ise of re­nais­sance in Amer­i­can art.” He re­mained a real­ist painter de­spite his ad­mi­ra­tion of the mod­ern move­ments and cap­tured scenes of ev­ery­day life.

His un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally monochro­matic paint­ing, The Bal­cony, is an ex­am­ple of the qual­ity of his ob­ser­va­tion and, at this point in his ca­reer, his in­debt­ed­ness to French im­pres­sion­ists like Renoir. Robert Henri’s pas­tel por­trait Be­talo de­picts one of his fa­vorite models, Be­talo Ru­bino, a dancer. In his book, The Art Spirit, he wrote, “work with great speed .... Get the great­est pos­si­bil­ity of ex­pres­sion in the larger masses first. Then the fea­tures in their great­est sim­plic­ity... Do it all in one sit­ting if you can. In one minute if you can.

There is no virtue in de­lay­ing.”

Part two of the gallery’s Master­works ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tur­ing works from 1915 to 1965 will be shown at The Art Show at the Park Av­enue Ar­mory Fe­bru­ary 28 through March 4.

John Marin (1870-1953), Down­town from the River, 1910. Wa­ter­color on pa­per, 14 x 17 in., signed lower right: ‘Marin 1910’; in­scribed on verso: ‘AS Col­lec­tion. Never Ex­hib­ited. Sig­na­ture O.K. AS.’.

Left: Robert Henri (1865-1929), Be­talo, 1910-11. Pas­tel on pa­per­board, 15 x 12 in., signed lower cen­ter left: ‘Robert Henri’; in­scribed on verso: ‘Robert Henri / 10 Gramercy Park N Y City - /”Sketch” / 307 / G [in square box]’.

Above: William Glack­ens (1870-1938), The Bal­cony, ca. 1899. Sepia and black ink with white wash, 95/8 x 12 in., signed lower left: ‘W Glack­ens’. Op­po­site: Mau­rice Brazil Pren­der­gast (1858-1924), Ital­ian Flower Mar­ket, ca. 1898-99. Wa­ter­color on pa­per,...

Everett Shinn (1876-1953), Fire on Mott Street, 1902. Pas­tel, wa­ter­color and ink on pa­per, 75/8 x 13 in., signed and dated lower left: ‘EVERETT SHINN – 1902’.

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