Upcoming Exhibition Brings Together 200 Works By 60 American And Mexican Artists At The Whitney Museum In February 2020

The cultural renaissance that emerged in Mexico in 1920 at the end of that country’s revolution dramatically changed art not just in Mexico but also in the United States. Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945 will explore the profound influence Mexican artists had on the direction American art would take. With approximately 200 works by sixty American and Mexican artists, Vida Americana reorients art history, acknowledging the wide-ranging and profound influence of Mexico’s three leading muralists—José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros—on the style, subject matter, and ideology of art in the United States made between 1925 and 1945.

The Whitney Museum’s own connection to the Mexican muralists dates back to 1924 when the Museum’s founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney presented an exhibition of the work of three Mexican artists—José Clemente Orozco, Luis Hidalgo, and Miguel Covarrubias—at the Whitney Studio Club, organized by artist Alexander Brook. It was Orozco’s first exhibition in the United States. A few years later, in 1926, Orozco also showed watercolors from his House of Tears series at the Studio Club; and the following year Juliana Force, Mrs. Whitney’s executive assistant and future director of the Whitney Museum, provided critical support for Orozco at a time when he desperately needed it by acquiring ten of his drawings. The Mexican muralists had a profound influence on many artists who were mainstays of the Studio Club, and eventually the Whitney Museum, including several American artists featured in Vida Americana, such as Thomas Hart Benton, William Gropper, Isamu Noguchi, and Ben Shahn.

Diego Rivera. The Uprising, 1931. Fresco on reinforced cement in a galvanized-steel framework, 74 × 94 1/8 in. (188 × 239 cm). Collection of Marcos and Vicky Micha Levy © 2019 Banco de México–Rivera–Kahlo/ARS. Reproduction authorized by El Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura, 2019.

Curated by Barbara Haskell, with Marcela Guerrero, assistant curator; Sarah Humphreville, senior curatorial assistant; and Alana Hernandez, former curatorial project assistant, Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945 will be on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art from February 17 through May 17, 2020 and will travel to the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, where it will be on display from June 25 through October 4, 2020. At the McNay Art Museum, the installation will be overseen by René Paul Barrilleaux.

Jacob Lawrence. Panel 3 from The Migration Series, From every Southern town migrants left by the hundreds to travel north.,1940–41. Casein tempera on hardboard 12 × 18 in. (30.5 × 45.7 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; acquired 1942. © 2019 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Vida Americana is an enormously important undertaking for the Whitney and could not be more timely given its entwined aesthetic and political concerns,” said Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator. “It not only represents the culmination of nearly a decade of scholarly research and generous international collaboration but also demonstrates our commitment to presenting a more comprehensive and inclusive view of twentieth-century and contemporary art in the United States.”

María Izquierdo. My Nieces, 1940. Oil on composition board, 55 1/8 × 39 3/8 in. (140 × 100 cm). Museo Nacional de Arte, INBAL, Mexico City; constitutive collection, 1982 © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City. Reproduction authorized by El Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura, 2019.

Comprised of paintings, portable frescoes, films, sculptures, prints, photographs, and drawings, as well as reproductions of in-situ murals, Vida Americana will be divided into nine thematic sections and will occupy the entirety of the Whitney’s fifth-floor Neil Bluhm Family Galleries. This unprecedented installation, and the catalogue that accompanies it, will provide the first opportunity to reconsider this cultural history, revealing the immense influence of Mexican artists on their American counterparts between 1925 and 1945.

Continue reading

Art News: “Old Masters Now: Celebrating the Johnson Collection” at The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Art gives us real delight only when the eye derives pleasure from what is really worthy.

John G. Johnson, from his art and travel memoir, Sight-Seeing in Berlin and Holland among Pictures, 1892.

This fall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present Old Masters Now: Celebrating the Johnson Collection, November 3, 2017 – February 19, 2018, a major exhibition focusing on one of the finest collections of European art ever to have been formed in the United States by a private collector. The exhibition marks the centenary of the remarkable bequest of John Graver Johnson—a distinguished corporate lawyer of his day and one of its most adventurous art collectors—to the city of Philadelphia in 1917. It also coincides with the celebration of the centennial of

Portrait of John G. Johnson, 1917. Conrad F. Haeseler, American, 1875 1962

Portrait of John G. Johnson, 1917. Conrad F. Haeseler, American, 1875 1962. Oil on panel, 34 x 24 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of Miss Julia W. Frick and Sidney W. Frick, 1971.

the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The exhibition will include masterpieces by key figures of the Renaissance such as Botticelli, Bosch, and Titian; important seventeenth-century Dutch paintings by Rembrandt, Jan Steen, and others; and works by American and French masters of Johnson’s own time, most notably Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Édouard Manet and Claude Monet. Old Masters Now will also provide a behind-the-scenes look at the collaborative work of the Museum’s curators and conservators who have worked with the collection since it was entrusted to the Museum’s care in the early 1930s. The exhibition will explore a host of fascinating questions ranging from attribution to authenticity and illuminate the detective work and problem-solving skills that are brought to bear when specialists reevaluate the original meaning and intent of works created centuries ago.pma_title_horz

Born in the village of Chestnut Hill, now part of Philadelphia, and educated in the city’s public Central High School and then the University of Pennsylvania, John Graver Johnson (1841–1917) became recognized as the greatest lawyer in the English-speaking world. He represented influential clients such as J. P. Morgan, US Steel, the Sugar Trust, and Standard Oil. He was also known to accept cases that many would consider ordinary if the details piqued his intellectual interest. Johnson quietly acquired many important works of art, but also highly singular ones that have been the source of much scholarly discussion.

Railroad Bridge, Argenteuil, 1874. Claude Monet, French, 1840 1926.

Railroad Bridge, Argenteuil, 1874. Claude Monet, French, 1840 1926. Oil on canvas, 21 3/8 x 28 7/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

At the age of 34 he married Ida Alicia Powel Morrell (1840–1908), a widow with three children. He traveled to Europe often, visiting France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, and Belgium, and collected pictures as an amateur art historian relying on his own evaluation. In 1892, he published Sight-Seeing in Berlin and Holland among Pictures. Also that year, he published a catalog of his collection which at the time included 281 paintings.

Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata, 1430 1432. Jan van Eyck, Netherlandish

Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata, 1430 1432. Jan van Eyck, Netherlandish (active Bruges), c. 1395 1441. Oil on vellum on panel, 5 x 5 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

In 1895, Johnson was appointed to Philadelphia’s Fairmount Art Commission where he oversaw the Wilstach Gallery, which housed a public collection of paintings. Under his leadership, the Commission purchased important works, among them James McNeill Whistler’s Arrangement in Black, and Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Annunciation, the first work by an African-American artist to enter a public collection in the United States. Johnson was also the attorney for Alexander Cassatt, brother of the artist Mary Stevenson Cassatt. One of his earliest purchases was Cassatt’s On the Balcony. When Johnson gave this work to the Wilstach Gallery in 1906, it was the first painting by the artist to enter an American public collection. During his 22-year stewardship of the Wilstach Gallery, he made 53 gifts from his personal collection, which are now on view at the Museum.

Marine, 1866. Gustave Courbet, French, 1819 1877. Oil on canvas on gypsum board. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Marine, 1866. Gustave Courbet, French, 1819 1877. Oil on canvas on gypsum board. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Musical Group, 1520s. Callisto Piazza (Calisto de la Piaza da Lodi),

Musical Group, 1520s. Callisto Piazza (Calisto de la Piaza da Lodi), Italian (active Lodi and Brescia), c. 1500 1561/62. Oil on panel, 35 5/8 x 35 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and CEO said, “Over time our appreciation of Johnson’s extraordinary gift continues to grow, and yet it remains a source of endless fascination with many discoveries still to be made. We are delighted to open a window onto our work, offering visitors a fresh look at the process of scholarship and conservation that we bring to the care of our collection and an insight into the questions, puzzles, and mysteries that continue to occupy our staff.”

Johnson’s collection was formed through his own study and, in later years, with the assistance of illustrious art historians including Roger Fry and Wilhelm Valentiner. Bernard Berenson advised his purchases of works by Antonello da Messina, Sandro Botticelli, and Pietro Lorenzetti, and others. To this day, the John G. Johnson Collection is distinguished by its quality, rarity, and diversity in European art.

Portrait of a Lady, c. 1577 1580. Attributed to El Greco

Portrait of a Lady, c. 1577 1580. Attributed to El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos), Spanish (born Crete, active Italy and Spain), 1541 1614. Oil on panel, 15 5/8 x 12 5/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Portrait of a Young Gentleman, 1474. Antonello da Messina

Portrait of a Young Gentleman, 1474. Antonello da Messina (Antonello di Giovanni di Michele de Antonio), Italian (active Messina, Naples, and Venice) 1456 – 1479. Oil on panel, 12 5/8 x 10 11/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Portrait of Archbishop Filippo Archinto, 1558. Titian

Portrait of Archbishop Filippo Archinto, 1558. Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Italian (active Venice), first securely documented 1508, died 1576. Oil on canvas, 45 3/16 x 34 15/16 inches. Framed: 58 3/4 × 48 1/4 × 5 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

At the time of his death on April 14 in 1917, Johnson left his collection to the city of Philadelphia. In his will, he said: “I have lived my life in this City. I want the collection to have its home here.” The City of Philadelphia accepted the conditions of his will, which contained a codicil directing that his house be opened as a gallery for the public to enjoy. In 1933 the Johnson Collection was moved temporarily from Johnson’s house at 510 South Broad Street to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, due to a funding crisis caused by the Great Depression as well as a determination by a court-appointed master that the Johnson house was unsafe for the collection. In 1958 the Museum, the City, and the Johnson Trust entered a formal agreement concerning storage and display of the Johnson Collection at the Museum. Johnson’s art was exhibited as a separate collection within the Museum for more than 50 years. In the late 1980s, legal approval was granted for the Museum to integrate the works into its full collection. The collection numbers 1,279 paintings, 51 sculptures, and over 100 other objects.

Christ and the Virgin, c. 1430 1435. Robert Campin, also called the Master of Flémalle, Netherlandish

Christ and the Virgin, c. 1430 1435. Robert Campin, also called the Master of Flémalle, Netherlandish (active Tournai), first documented 1406, died 1444. Oil and gold on panel, 11 1/4 x 17 15/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Head of Christ, c. 1648 1656. Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Dutch

Head of Christ, c. 1648 1656. Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Dutch (active Leiden and Amsterdam), 1606 1669. Oil on oak panel, laid into larger oak panel, 14 1/8 x 12 5/16 inches. Framed: 28 1/4 x 23 x 2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Interior of Saint Bavo, Haarlem, 1631. Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, Dutch

Interior of Saint Bavo, Haarlem, 1631. Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, Dutch (active Haarlem and Utrecht), 1597 1665. Oil on panel, 32 5/8 x 43 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

The exhibition will open with a gallery dedicated to Johnson himself, providing a picture of one of Philadelphia’s most prominent leaders during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A timeline will trace key moments in his colorful legal career, highlighting important cases and invitations he was reported to have received from President Garfield and President Cleveland to be nominated for a seat on the United States Supreme Court, and another from President McKinley to serve as his United States Attorney General, all of which Johnson declined. It notes that in 1901, he represented his hometown baseball team, the Phillies (then known as the Philadelphia Ball Club), when players sought to break their contract to play for another team. This section will also explore his decades-long formation of an art collection, from his early acquisitions of contemporary art, such as Mary Cassatt’s On the Balcony, to paintings that he acquired the day before he died. Archival material, travel albums, and large-scale photographs of the interiors of Johnson’s houses at 426 and 506 South Broad Street will reveal the strikingly idiosyncratic way in which he displayed and lived with his collection. Continue reading

The Jewish Museum in New York Present Chagall: Love, War, and Exile

First U.S. Exhibition Exploring Darker Works by Marc Chagall Created During World War II, September 15, 2013 – February 2, 2014

From September 15, 2013 through February 2, 2014, THE JEWISH MUSEUM (1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, New York City) in New York will present CHAGALL: LOVE, WAR, AND EXILE which, for the first time in the U.S., explores a significant but neglected period in the artist’s career, from the rise of fascism in the 1930s through 1948, years spent in Paris and then in exile in New York.

Marc Chagall, "Self-Portrait with Clock", 1947, oil on canvas, private collection. ©2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Marc Chagall, “Self-Portrait with Clock”, 1947, oil on canvas, private collection. ©2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985), one of the foremost modernists of the 20th century, created his unique style by drawing on elements from richly colored folk art motifs, the Russian Christian icon tradition, Cubism, and Surrealism. Beginning with the evocative paintings from his years in France, CHAGALL: LOVE, WAR, AND EXILE illuminate an artist deeply responsive to the suffering inflicted by war and to his own personal losses and concerns. Although he never abandoned a poetic sensibility, his art of the 1930s and 1940s reflects the political reality of the time. Most unexpected is the recurring appearance of the figure of the crucified Jesus as a metaphor for war and persecution. By the mid-1940s, Chagall returns to joyful, colorful compositions expressing the power of love. The exhibition includes 30 paintings and 24 works on paper, as well as selected letters, poems, photos, and ephemera. Continue reading