The Museum Of Modern Art Announces The First Major Dorothea Lange Solo Exhibition At Moma In 50 Years

The Museum of Modern Art announces Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures, the first major solo exhibition at the Museum of the photographer’s incisive work in over 50 years. On view from February 9 through May 2, 2020, in The Paul J. Sachs Galleries in The David and Peggy Rockefeller Building,

Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures includes approximately 100 photographs drawn entirely from the Museum’s collection. The exhibition also uses archival materials such as correspondence, historical publications, and oral histories, as well as contemporary voices, to examine the ways in which words inflect our understanding of Lange’s pictures. These new perspectives and responses from artists, scholars, critics, and writers, including Julie Ault, Wendy Red Star, and Rebecca Solnit, provide fresh insight into Lange’s practice. Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures is organized by Sarah Meister, Curator, with River Bullock, Beaumont & Nancy Newhall Curatorial Fellow, assisted by Madeline Weisburg, Modern Women’s Fund Twelve-Month Intern, Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art.

Dorothea Lange. Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California. 1936. Gelatin silver print, 11 1/8 x 8 9/16″ (28.3 x 21.8 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase

Toward the end of her life, Dorothea Lange (1895–1965) remarked, “All photographs—not only those that are so-called ‘documentary,’ and every photograph really is documentary and belongs in some place, has a place in history—can be fortified by words.”

Dorothea Lange. Tractored Out, Childress County, Texas. 1938. Gelatin silver print. 9 5/16 x 12 13/16″ (23.6 x 32.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase

Organized loosely chronologically and spanning her career, the exhibition groups iconic works together with lesser known photographs and traces their varied relationships to words: from early criticism on Lange’s photographs to her photo-essays published in LIFE magazine, and from the landmark photobook An American Exodus to her examination of the US criminal justice system. The exhibition also includes groundbreaking photographs of the 1930s—including Migrant Mother (1936)—that inspired pivotal public awareness of the lives of sharecroppers, displaced families, and migrant workers during the Great Depression. Through her photography and her words, Lange urged photographers to reconnect with the world—a call reflective of her own ethos and working method, which coupled an attention to aesthetics with a central concern for humanity.

Dorothea Lange. The Defendant, Alameda County Courthouse, California. 1957. Gelatin silver print. 12 3/8 x 10 1/8″ (31.4 x 25.8 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase

It seems both timely and urgent that we renew our attention to Lange’s extraordinary achievements,” said Meister. “Her concern for less fortunate and often overlooked individuals, and her success in using photography (and words) to address these inequities, encourages each of us to reflect on our own civic responsibilities. It reminds me of the unique role that art—and in particular photography—can play in imagining a more just society.

The exhibition begins in 1933, when Lange, then a portrait photographer, first brought her camera outside into the streets of San Francisco. Lange’s increasing interest in the everyday experience of people she encountered eventually led her to work for government agencies, 2 supporting their objective to raise public awareness and to provide aid to struggling farmers and those devastated by the Great Depression. During this time, Lange photographed her subjects and kept notes that formed the backbone of government reports; these and other archival materials will be represented alongside corresponding photographs throughout the exhibition. Lange’s commitment to social justice and her faith in the power of photography remained constant throughout her life, even when her politics did not align with those who were paying for her work.

A central focus of the exhibition is An American Exodus, a 1939 collaboration between Lange and Paul Schuster Taylor, her husband and an agricultural economist. As an object and as an idea, An American Exodus highlights the voices of her subjects by pairing first-person quotations alongside their pictures. Later, Lange’s photographs continued to be useful in addressing marginalized histories and ongoing social concerns. Throughout her career as a photographer for the US Government and various popular magazines, Lange’s pictures were frequently syndicated and circulated outside of their original context. Lange’s photographs of the 1930s helped illustrate Richard Wright’s 12 Million Black Voices (1941), and her 1950s photographs of a public defender were used to illustrate Minimizing Racism in Jury Trials (1969), a law handbook published after Black Panther Huey P. Newton’s first trial during a time of great racial strife.

This collection-based exhibition would not be possible had it not been for Lange’s deep creative ties to the Museum during her lifetime. MoMA’s collection of Lange photographs was built over many decades and remains one of the definitive collections of her work. Her relationship to MoMA’s Department of Photography dates to her inclusion in its inaugural exhibition, in 1940 which was curated by the department’s director, Edward Steichen. Lange is a rare artist in that both Steichen and his successor, John Szarkowski, held her in equally high esteem. More than a generation after her first retrospective, organized by Szarkowski at MoMA in 1966, Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures uses both historical and contemporary words to encourage a more nuanced understanding of words and pictures in circulation.

The exhibition is accompanied by the catalogue Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures, capturing this renewed consideration of Lange’s work through the particular lens of its relationship to words. Contributors to the exhibition and the catalogue include artists and curators Julie Ault, Sam Contis (in collaboration with Tess Taylor), Sandy Phillips, Wendy Red Star, and Sally Mann; scholars and writers Kimberly Juanita Brown, Jennifer Greenhill, Christina Sharpe, Robert Slifkin, and Rebecca Solnit.

The exhibition is supported by the Annual Exhibition Fund.

Landmark Exhibition “World War I and American Art” Makes Final Stop at Frist Center for the Visual Arts

Public Programs Explore Contemporary Cultural Connections and Role of Art in Healing Wounds of War, October 6, 2017–January 21, 2018

World War I and American Art was organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

World War I and American Art, the first major exhibition to examine how American artists reacted to the First World War, opens at Nashville’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts on October 6, 2017. Works by more than seventy artists, including George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Childe Hassam, Georgia O’Keeffe, Horace Pippin, and John Singer Sargent, represent a pivotal chapter in the history of American art that has until now been overlooked and underestimated.

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James Montgomery Flagg (1877–1960). I Want YOU for U.S. Army, Nearest Recruiting Station, 1917. Poster, 40 x 29 1/2 in. Collection of Walton Rawls. Photo: The Library Company of Philadelphia

Timed to coincide with the centennial of the entry of the U.S. into the war, this ambitious exhibition organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), Philadelphia, revisits a critical period in history through a wide variety of artistic responses, ranging from patriotic to dissenting. Garnering acclaim from outlets such as Forbes, The New York Times, and PBS NewsHour, the exhibition and its central themes of how artists respond to geopolitical turmoil is strikingly relevant today. American artists were vital to the culture of the war and the shaping of public opinion in several ways. Some developed propaganda posters promoting U.S. involvement, while others made daring anti-war drawings, paintings, and prints. Some worked as official war artists embedded with troops and others designed camouflage or took surveillance photographs.

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James Montgomery Flagg (1877–1960). I Want YOU for U.S. Army, Nearest Recruiting Station, 1917. Poster, 40 x 29 1/2 in. Collection of Walton Rawls. Photo: The Library Company of Philadelphia

The exhibition features many high-profile loans from both private and public collections, including most importantly Sargent’s monumental tableau Gassed (Imperial War Museums, London), which has been seen in the U.S. only once before (in 1999).

Working as an official war artist for the British government, Sargent witnessed the aftermath of a German mustard gas attack on British soldiers. He represented the harrowing scene on an epic canvas measuring about 7½ x 20 feet,” says Frist Center curator Trinita Kennedy. “Our presentation of the painting and the exhibition as a whole will be enriched by a lecture on opening day entitled ‘Mr. Sargent Goes to War’ by Richard Ormond, the artist’s great-nephew and a renowned scholar based in London.”

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Claggett Wilson (1887–1952). Front Line Stuff, ca. 1919. Watercolor, pencil, and varnish on paperboard, 18 3/4 x 22 7/8 in. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Alice H. Rossin, 1981.163.11. Photo: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC/Art Resource, NY

The organization of the exhibition mirrors the historical unfolding of the war itself. It begins by showing how American artists interpreted the threat of war while the U.S. remained neutral between 1914 and 1917, the debate to enter it, and then how the conflict involved them directly as soldiers, relief workers, political dissenters, and official artists. The spectrum of political points of view and purpose can be seen through the juxtaposition of works. Hassam’s flag paintings are impressionist and patriotic, while Hartley’s tribute paintings to his slain friend and possible lover, a German military officer, are abstract and mournful. Bellows, at first an opponent of the war, later encouraged US involvement by vilifying German war crimes with macabre detail. O’Keeffe’s more personal work reflected her conflicted feelings about her younger brother’s enlistment.

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Marsden Hartley (1877–1943). Portrait, ca. 1914–15. Oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 21 1/2 in. Lent by the Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, Bequest of Hudson D. Walker from the Ione and Hudson D. Walker Collection, 1978.21.234

Return of the Useless

George Bellows (1882–1925). The Return of the Useless, 1918. Oil on canvas, 59 x 66 in. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2009.6. Photo: Douglas Dalton. Reproduced with permission of The Bellows Trust

A group of patriotic artists came together to form the government’s first art agency in the service of war: the Division of Pictorial Publicity. On display will be iconic recruitment posters created by Laura Brey, Howard Chandler Christy, James Montgomery Flagg, and others that promoted enlistment with stirring imagery and language. There are also posters aimed at mobilizing women on the homefront, encouraging them to enter the workforce to support the war effort. As part of the Frist Center’s presentation, an education gallery with interactive electronic stations will allow visitors to explore such ideologically motivated works of art. Continue reading

The Whitney Museum of American Art To Present Two-Floor Exhibition In Celebration Of The Portrait

Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection Complete The Reinstallation Of The Whitney’s Collection In Its New Building

The Selfie, often seen as the height of narcissism in what is essentially an increasingly narcissistic world, is the modern version of what has long been a celebrated art form throughout history: The Portrait. Portraits are one of the richest veins of the Whitney’s collection, thanks to the Museum’s longstanding commitment to the figurative tradition, championed by its founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.

The mysterious power and fascination of the portrait—and the ingenious ways in which artists have been expanding the definition of portraiture over the past 100 years—are celebrated in Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection, to be presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art this spring. The works included in this exhibition propose diverse and often unconventional ways of representing an individual. Many artists reconsider the pursuit of external likeness—portraiture’s usual objective—within formal or conceptual explorations or reject it altogether. Some revel in the genre’s glamour and allure, while others critique its elitist associations and instead call attention to the banal or even the grotesque.

Drawn entirely from the Museum’s collection, the exhibition features more than 300 works made from 1900 to 2016 by an extraordinary range of more than 200 artists, roughly half of whom are living. The show will be organized in twelve thematic sections on two floors of the Museum, with works in all media installed side by side. Floor Six, predominantly focused on art since 1960, opens first, on April 6; Floor Seven, which includes works from the first half of the twentieth century alongside more contemporary offerings, will open on April 27. The exhibition will remain on view through February 12, 2017.

Once a rarified luxury good, portraits are now ubiquitous. Readily reproducible and ever-more accessible, photography has played a particularly vital role in the democratization of portraiture, and will be strongly represented in the exhibition. Most recently, the proliferation of smartphones and the rise of social media have unleashed an unprecedented stream of portraits in the form of selfies and other online posts. Many contemporary artists confront this situation, stressing the fluidity of identity in a world where technology and the mass-media are omnipresent. Through their varied takes on the portrait, the artists in Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection demonstrate the vitality of this enduring genre, which serves as a compelling lens through which to view some of the most important social and artistic developments of the past century.

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Barkley L. Hendricks (b. 1945). Steve, (1976). Oil, acrylic, and Magna on linen canvas, 72 × 48in. (182.9 × 121.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase and gift with funds from the Arthur M. Bullowa Bequest by exchange, the Jack E. Chachkes Endowed Purchase Fund, and the Wilfred P. and Rose J. Cohen Purchase Fund 2015.101. Image Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY.

Many iconic works from the collection will be included by such artists as Alexander Calder, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Alice Neel, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cindy Sherman, and Andy Warhol. In addition, a number of major new acquisitions will be exhibited at the Whitney for the first time, including Barkley L. Hendricks’s full-length 1976 portrait, Steve; Urs Fischer’s 2015 towering candle sculpture of Julian Schnabel (making its debut); Joan Semmel’s painting of two nude lovers, Touch (1977); Henry Taylor’s depiction of Black Panther leader Huey Newton (2007); Deana Lawson’s striking color photograph The Garden (2015); and Rosalyn Drexler’s Pop masterwork Marilyn Pursued by Death (1963). The exhibition will extend to the Museum’s outdoor galleries on Floors Seven and Six, the latter of which will feature Paul McCarthy’s monumental bronze sculpture White Snow #3 (2012), also a new acquisition.

Following is a selection of several of the sections in which the exhibition will be divided:

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST

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Edward Hopper (1882‑1967). (Self‑Portrait), (1925‑1930). Oil on canvas, Overall: 25 3/8 × 20 3/8in. (64.5 × 51.8 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest 70.1165. © Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by Whitney Museum of American Art

On the seventh floor, the section “Portrait of the Artist” brings together self-portraits with portraits of artists and other members of the creative community, a moving window into the way artists see themselves and their relationships with one another. On view will be Edward Hopper’s iconic self-portrait in oil in a brown hat, as well as a pair of drawings by Hopper and Guy Pène du Bois, each depicting the other and made during a single sitting. Other works depict artists with the tools of their trade—Ilse Bing is seen in a photograph holding the shutter release of her camera; Mabel Dwight uses a mirror as an aid in drawing herself; Andreas Feininger photographs himself regarding a strip of film through a magnifying glass. Other works in this section include Cy Twombly photographed by Robert Rauschenberg; Jasper Johns by Richard Avedon; Georgia O’Keeffe drawn by Peggy Bacon; Edgard Varèse sculpted in wire by Alexander Calder; Langston Hughes photographed by Roy DeCarava; Berenice Abbott by Walker Evans; Yasuo Kuniyoshi by Arnold Newman; and a double portrait of Joseph Stella and Marcel Duchamp taken by Man Ray.

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Rachel Harrison (b. 1966). Untitled, (2011). Colored pencil on paper, Sheet: 19 × 24in. (48.3 × 61 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Drawing Committee 2012.81. © Rachel Harrison

EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY CELEBRITY AND SPECTACLE

In the early decades of the twentieth century, a spectrum of new, popular leisure pursuits—vaudeville, theater, cabaret, sporting events, and above all, motion pictures—thrust performers and entertainers into the public eye as never before. For the crowds that flocked to see them, the stars of these entertainments became larger-than-life figures, and an array of media outlets, from tabloid newspapers to glossy magazines to radio, sprang up to broadcast their exploits to captivated audiences across the nation. Artists eagerly delved into these new phenomena, creating portraits that stoked the public’s growing fascination with celebrities. At the turn of the century, painters such as Howard Cushing and Everett Shinn investigated the changing terms of fame and glamour as flashy public spectacles eclipsed Gilded Age refinement. Following World War I many artists joined in the commercial opportunities offered by the booming entertainment industry—particularly photographers, whose easily reproducible images carried a special air of authenticity. Foremost among them, Edward Steichen pioneered the aesthetic of the “closeup” in his stylish magazine portraits of movie stars and other luminaries, such as Marlene Dietrich, Dolores Del Rio, and Paul Robeson. Other photographers such as James Van Der Zee, Toyo Miyatake, and Carl Van Vechten called attention to vanguard performers whose race or ethnicity placed them outside the mainstream, challenging the sanitized imperatives of popular culture.

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Toyo Miyatake (1895‑1979). Michio Ito, (1929). Gelatin silver print, Sheet: 14 × 10 7/8in. (35.6 × 27.6 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Photography Committee 2014.241. © Toyo Miyatake Studio

STREET LIFE

Under the rubric of “Street Life” the exhibition presents artists who took to the pavement with their cameras, photographing subjects as they encountered them, sometimes surreptitiously. These images, which often capture fleeting, serendipitous moments, present a counterpoint to the premeditated, sedentary sitter of historical portraits. At the turn of the last century it became clear that the camera could become an apparatus for the indictment of a society’s ills and a group of socially aware photographers became activists in addition to observers of the urban environment. An early work in the exhibition, Lewis Hine’s Newsies at Skeeters Branch, St. Louis, Missouri (c. 1910), exemplifies this type of politically motivated street photography. Other works documenting the spectacle of urban life include Walker Evans’s subway photographs; Helen Levitt’s images taken on the streets of Yorktown and Spanish Harlem; and examples from Garry Winogrand’s Women Are Beautiful portfolio. Artists featured in this section also include Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, and Nan Goldin. The tradition of street photography is carried through to more recent works by Dawoud Bey and Philip-Lorca di Corcia.

PORTRAITS WITHOUT PEOPLE

Is likeness essential to portraiture? The works in this section, spanning the past one hundred years, ask this question as they pursue alternate means for capturing an individual’s personality, values, and experiences. Often, the presence of the individual or his or her character is implied through objects and symbols that resonate with hidden meaning. Gerald Murphy’s Cocktail (1927), a bold, Jazz Age still life suggests a uniquely autobiographical approach: the accoutrements of a typical 1920s bar tray were based on Murphy’s memory of his father’s bar accessories and the cigar box cover shows a robed woman surrounded by items that allude to Murphy himself, including a boat (he was an avid sailor) and an artist’s palette. Marsden Hartley’s Painting, Number 5 (1914–15), a portrait of Karl von Freyburg, uses German imperial military regalia to stand in for the presence of the officer with whom the artist had fallen in love. In Summer Days (1936), Georgia O’Keeffe adopted the animal skull and vibrant desert wildflowers as surrogates for herself, symbols of the cycles of life and death that shape the desert world she made her home. Jasper Johns’s portrait of a Savarin coffee can full of brushes stands for Johns himself; and James Welling’s portrait of Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, CT, may be viewed as a sort of portrait of the famous architect. In a number of works in this section, body parts or personal possessions may allude to the subject, such as Jay DeFeo’s teeth; Alfred Stieglitz’s hat; and Ed Ruscha’s shoes. Forgoing likeness in favor of allusion and enigma, these artists expand the possibilities of the portrait, while also acknowledging that the quest to depict others—and even ourselves—is elusive. Continue reading

The Whitney Presents Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition, Highlighting a Beneficent Gift from Richard and Jackie Hollander

The Whitney Museum of American Art will mount an exhibition of works by Edward Steichen, the pioneering American photographer best known for his striking portraits from the early-twentieth century. Organized by senior curatorial assistant Carrie Springer, the exhibition includes celebrity portraits and fashion photographs taken for Vanity Fair and Vogue, images shot for advertising campaigns, and a selection of photographs that show the artist’s interest in the natural world. The approximately forty-five works that comprise Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition were a generous gift to the Whitney from Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander. The exhibition will be on view from December 6 through February 2014 in the Museum’s Anne & Joel Ehrenkranz Gallery.

Edward Steichen, Marlene Dietrich, (for Vanity Fair), 1931. Gelatin silver print, 10 × 8in. (25.4 × 20.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander  2012.234

Edward Steichen, Marlene Dietrich, (for Vanity Fair), 1931. Gelatin silver print, 10 × 8in. (25.4 × 20.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.234

Edward Steichen (1879–1973) began his career as a painter and a photographer, producing atmospheric and expressive photographs with a deliberate painterly appearance. After serving in World War I as an aerial photographer, he abandoned painting and developed a more modernist approach to photography, focusing on making images for the printed page. After serving as the chief photographer for Condé Nast publications from 1923 to 1937, Steichen resigned from his post and, at the age of fifty-nine, gave up his New York studio.

Edward Steichen, Foxgloves, France, 1925. Gelatin silver print, 9 15/16 × 7 15/16in. (25.2 × 20.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander  2012.222

Edward Steichen, Foxgloves, France, 1925. Gelatin silver print, 9 15/16 × 7 15/16in. (25.2 × 20.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.222

During World War II, Steichen volunteered for service, and became director of the U.S. Navy Photographic Institute, in charge of all Navy Combat photography. In 1947, he was appointed director of the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, where he worked for fifteen years and curated more than forty exhibitions. His most famous show was The Family of Man (1955), a wide-ranging exhibition of photographs by artists from around the world linked together a shared human experience. MoMA also mounted an exhibition of Steichen’s own work in 1961, the year before he retired. In 1963 President John F. Kennedy presented Steichen with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the government bestows to a civilian.

Edward Steichen, Paul Robeson (as Brutus Jones in The Emperor Jones, for Vanity Fair), 1933. Gelatin silver print, mounted on board, 9 15/16 × 8in. (25.2 × 20.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander  2012.240

Edward Steichen, Paul Robeson (as Brutus Jones in The Emperor Jones, for Vanity Fair), 1933. Gelatin silver print, mounted on board, 9 15/16 × 8in. (25.2 × 20.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.240

This exhibition covers a period when Steichen was the chief photographer for Condé Nast Publications, a position he held from 1923 to 1937. Considered one of the greatest portrait photographers at that time, Steichen was assigned to photograph famous actors, writers, artists, statesmen, and society figures for Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines. His portraits—including iconic images of Winston Churchill, Paul Robeson, Marlene Dietrich, Eugene O’Neill, and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, among others which will be on view— depict a rich slice of cultural history. Continue reading