Vir­ginia Mu­seum of Fine Arts

ARCHIBALD MOTLEY JR.

American Fine Art Magazine - - New Acquisition -

The Vir­ginia Mu­seum of Fine Arts in Richmond has re­cently ac­quired works of art by Archibald Motley Jr., San­ford Big­gers and David Drake. Grow­ing the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion of African Amer­i­can art has been a ma­jor fo­cus of the mu­seum’s ac­qui­si­tion strat­egy since 2015. Mu­seum di­rec­tor Alex Ny­erges says,“the­vir­ginia Mu­seum of Fine Arts is com­mit­ted to es­tab­lish­ing a lead­er­ship role in the col­lect­ing and dis­play of African Amer­i­can art.these three works are a sig­nif­i­cant step to­ward that goal and rep­re­sent three dis­tinct pe­ri­ods in African Amer­i­can his­tory as well as im­por­tant works of art that will de­light and in­spire our vis­i­tors for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

Motley’s 1927 paint­ing Town of Hope is con­sid­ered to be a mas­ter­work by the artist. Motley was not a pro­lific painter, and his works are not only de­sir­able be­cause of their rar­ity, but also be­cause they ex­plore African Amer­i­can life be­tween the World Wars.

“The paint­ing de­picts a group of fig­ures de­part­ing a small town and walk­ing wearily into a ver­dant land­scape,” ex­plains Dr. Leo G. Ma­zow, cu­ra­tor and head of Amer­i­can art at VMFA. “The oth­er­worldly, spec­tral greens and seem­ingly venge­ful clouds with three birds—a sign of the holy trin­ity—sug­gest that this ex­o­dus is di­vinely man­dated.we are thrilled to add such an im­por­tant mas­ter­piece to our col­lec­tion of Amer­i­can paint­ing.” The piece will be in­stalled along­side works from Ed­ward Hop­per,thomas Hart Ben­ton and Eldzier Cor­tor, be­com­ing one of the cen­ter­pieces of the mu­seum’s mid-20th-cen­tury Amer­i­can art gallery.

Archibald Motley Jr. (1891-1981), Town of Hope, 1927. Oil on can­vas. Vir­ginia Mu­seum of Fine Arts; J. Har­wood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for Amer­i­can Art.

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