The Morgan Library & its hidden gems

The great works of art, rare printed books, manuscripts and paintings by Italian and Netherlandish masters that adorn Mr. Morgan’s opulent library, are not exactly hidden but scroll further down to discover some really rare gems – usually hidden from view – that were on show at the lower level.  Thomas Gainsborough
Portrait of Caroline, 4th Duchess of Marlborough, ca. 1770

Inspired thirteen different English translations, printed in more than a hundred editions. This is the first edition in English, a legendary rarity. Why it is so rare, is hard to tell; perhaps the first copies were loved to death or the printing was curtailed by a miscalculation of the publisher. Only one other copy is recorded in an American library. The Morgan also has Heidi in French and German first editions, both in bindings with the same pictorial designs as these volumes.

To mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the publication of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic story “The Little Prince”, the Morgan presents five newly discovered drawings by the author as well as intimate memorabilia from his time in New York during the 1940s. The items belonged to the American artist Joseph Cornell (1903–1972), who met Saint-Exupéry at the very moment the French author-aviator was drafting what would become one of the world’s favorite books. Cornell kept a dossier of papers and fragments that served as echoes of their encounters—everything from a marked-up cocktail napkin to an unpublished sketch of the little prince perched at the edge of a rose-covered cliff. Cornell’s Saint-Exupéry dossier was acquired by the Morgan in 2014 and is now shown in its entirety, for the first time, in the Morgan’s lower level lobby gallery.

The Morgan Library

May 20th, 2018

Real life stories, humans and papier-mâché faces

Art that looks back at you looking back at art.

Gauri Gill’s ”Acts of Appearance”, is a series of vivid color photographs for which the artist worked closely with members of an Adivasi community in Jawhar district, Maharashtra, India. Gill’s collaborator-subjects are renowned for their papier-mâché objects, including traditional sacred masks. In these pictures they engage in everyday village activities while wearing new masks, made expressly for this body of work, which depict living beings with the physical characteristics of humans, animals, or valued objects. A range of scenarios and narratives, situated in both “reality” and dreamlike states, come together in the photographs, which simultaneously portray symbolic or playful representations as well as the familiar experiences of community members against the backdrop of their home and culture.

Night at the Museum: Springtober Fest @ MoMA PS1

May 5th, 2018

Dude, did I hear you say Art…?

A woman smoking a cigar (an absolute no-no in her time), a ”dude” throwing disapproving looks at her under his bowler hat, an innocent girl stoically enduring the scene, Joshua carrying a ram’s horn, all set to ”sound the trumpets of Jericho”, a faceless denture literally showing its teeth; they all seem to enjoy themselves, totally oblivious to a pair of cats silently judging one and all… 

A gallery of art that loves life – and the feeling is mutual…! Chalkware Cats, 1850-1900
Possibly made in Pennsylvania

Trust in God, ca. 1836
By Lorenzo Bartolini (1777-1850)

Dentist’s Trade Sign, ca. 1890
Tulip poplar and paint
Made in New England

In an era when the most common remedy for a toothache was extraction, this dentist’s trade sign promoted dentures as an aesthetically pleasing alternative to a mouth with missing teeth.

Girl of the Period, 1870-85
Possible by the workshop of Samuel Robb (1851-1928)
White pine and paint
Made in New York, New York

This sculpture is an example of what trade figure carvers called the ”Girl of the Period”. Sculptures such as this advertised tobacconist, milliner and dressmaker shops. Although it was taboo for women to smoke cigarettes in the 1880s, a sculpture of a stylish young woman holding a cigarette placed outside a tobacconist shop may have enticed male customers. It may have also appealed to progressive women.

Dude, 1885-1900
White pine and paint
Made in New York, New York

Carvers of trade figures often created caricatures of an urban type known as a ”Dude”. Stylish dudes of the late 1800s sported sizable moustaches and fashionable clothes. This dude is unique in comparison to others, because he appears careworn and lacks a broad smile. He may depict a portion of the American population that was now struggling despite previous success. As such, this quality makes this particular dude both an advertisement and a commentary on contemporary urban life.

Joshua at Jericho, 1950
By Willard Hirsch (1905-1982)
Red Oak

The Gibbes Museum of Art, Permanent Collection

Charleston, SC

April 11th, 2018

The Gibbes Shades of Green

”Because when we open ourselves to art, we open ourselves to the world – to people and ideas, to beauty, craft, process and detail, to different cultures, to pain and pleasure, to questions, expression and emotion, to truth and transcendence.” 

”The Gibbes Museum of Art is home to the foremost collection of American art that incorporates the story of Charleston. The Museum connects the city and region’s artistic past to a vibrant contemporary art scene. This is what we believe.” 

– The Gibbes Museum of Art

Mrs. Elizabeth Digby Peale Polk, 1770
By Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827)

Girl with Cat, ca. 1845-50
By unidentified artist (painted in New England)
Oil on canvas

Rosy Moon off Charleston Harbor, ca. 1908-1916
By Birge Harrison (1854-1929)
Oil on masonite

April (The Green Gown), 1920
By Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Oil on canvas

Originally titled April 1859, this painting is believed to be a portrayal of the artist’s mother, Rosa Hawthorne Hassam, pregnant with her son. In April 1859 she would have been three months pregnant with Hassam, who was born on October 17, 1859.

The Green Fan (Girl of Toledo, Spain), 1912
By Robert Henri (1865-1929)
Oil on canvas

Magnolia Gardens, ca. 1920
By Alfred Hutty (1877-1954)
Oil on canvas

Alfred Hutty traveled to Charleston for the first time in 1920 to teach a season of painting classes at the Gibbes Museum of Art. Overwhelmed by the city’s beauty, he returned every winter for the next thirty years.

Designs, Wrightsville Beach, 1968
By Minnie Evans (1892-1987)
Collage with oil, crayon and pencil on canvas

Ms. Johnson (Estelle), 1972,
By Barkley Hendricks (b. 1945)
Oil and acrylic on linen canvas

Corene, 1995
By Johathan Green (b. 1955)
Oil on canvas

Steamboat ”Victoria”, 1859
By James Bard (1815-1897)
Oil on canvas

Among the various treasures, a small sample you have seen – and hopefully enjoyed – above, there is a very interesting collection of miniature portraits such as the one below, of the fair Eliza Izard (Mrs. Thomas Pinckney, Jr.), painted by Malbone & dated 1801.

This is where we learned that the first American miniature portraits were painted in Charleston, and the Gibbes’ collection is one of the most important portrait miniature collections in the United States. Containing more than six hundred objects, it spans nearly two hundred years and represents the work of over a hundred artists.

The miniatures, too small to be photographed with a smartphone camera, are not just tiny masterful works of art, but also remembrances of loved ones in the age before photography. They are tokens of love and affection, passed down to us through generations and, as such, should be treasured for ever.  

The Gibbes Museum of Art – Charleston, SC

April 11th, 2018

The art of ageing gracefully

Mama, You Known I Never Paid Matisse
No Never Mind, 2000
By Sigmund M. Abeles (b. 1934)
Pastel on handmade paper

Sigmund Abeles captures the very essence of old age in this portrait of his mother shown seated in a nursing home setting. The portrait was painted from a photograph shortly after the sitter’s death.

Kona Kai, 1967
By Robert Bechtle (b. 1932)
Oil on canvas

502 Lucerne Street, ca. 1983-86
By Edward Rice (b. 1953)
Oil on canvas

Rice is well known for his ultra-realistic paintings of architecture, often picturing southern locales with which he has a personal relationship. 502 Lucerne Street was at one time the home of his grandmother. The building, located in North Augusta, South Carolina, originally served as the city jail and is now the artist’s studio

4/ & 5/
View of the Schuylkill County Almshouse
Property of the Year 1881, 1908
By Ralph F. Reed (1884-1966)
Oil on canvas

The Gibbes Museum of Art

Charleston, SC

April 11th, 2018

Charleston || And now for some Art…

@ the Gibbes Museum of Art.

We will have a better view of the galleries tomorrow but, today, I wanted to share with you the one portrait that stood out from the entire collection of the Museum, in my eyes at least. I can’t explain why, but the longer I look at her, the more she captivates me.

Mary Whyte, 1999
by Jill Hooper (b. 1970)
Oil on canvas

A classically-trained painter, Jill Hopper has earned acclaim for her portraits, landscapes and still-life paintings. She paints from life with natural light and attentive engagement with her subjects is the hallmark of Hooper’s work. This portrait conveys Hooper’s deep respect for fellow Charleston artist Mary Whyte. Posed holding the tools of her trade, Whyte is clearly identified as an artist. 

Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC

April 11th, 2018