Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Addison Revives the Spirit of The American Landscape

Previously, I blogged about the Art300 course offered at Phillips Academy and the four students who would organize a focused photography exhibition about American landscape. Above, students made their final selections for objects to be framed for the exhibition. On behalf of the student curators and the Addison staff, we invite you to the reception of The American Landscape or The Americans’ Landscape? on Thursday, May 29th from 6:30-8pm. The students will give a gallery talk at 7pm.

Together, the students wrote the following press release as part of their final assignment:

New Exhibition to be Unveiled on May 29 by PA Student Curators

On Thursday, May 29, the Addison Gallery of American Art, the academic art museum of Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., will unveil its final addition to its spring season shows: The American Landscape or The Americans’ Landscape?, an exploration into the evolution of the American landscape from the Addison’s permanent photography collection.

The exhibition was curated by four Phillips Academy students, as part of art instructor Elaine Crivelli’s Art 300 course, Visual Culture: Discovering the Addison. The Addison will welcome members of the Phillips Academy community as well as the general public to the exhibition’s opening reception.

The inaugural viewing will include remarks by the exhibition’s co-curators, Alexander Heffner ’08, Stephanie Schuyler ’08, Naomi Sobelson ’08, and Kelsey Thorn ’08. The curators write to viewers: In this exhibit, serene natural beauty collides with artificial elements to document the transformation from the American landscape to the Americans’ landscape. In capturing the complex tension between the coexisting forces of land and people, the photographs suggest that neither force dominates over the other—at least not for long. These selections from the Addison collection tell a distinctly American story of exploration, recreation, industrialization, and destruction.

Stephanie Schuyler, one the exhibit’s co-curators, said, “At least for me personally, in seeing reflections of the human attitude toward our environment over the course of American history, I was truly forced to reconsider how I see the world around me. It is not until one can see the visual trace of the human presence that one realizes how powerful it can be.”

Elaine Crivelli, who oversaw the student-led exhibition says, “I think it exemplifies how four students, each with his or her own perceptions of art, collaborated on a thought provoking exhibition. Through the process of viewing and analyzing photographs, discussion, research and writing over the course of nine weeks, the exhibition successfully examines the dynamic and sometimes destructive relationship between mankind and the natural environment.”

The range of photographs is strikingly diverse, with shots from New Hampshire, California, Alabama, New Jersey, California, and Utah; of geysers, windswept sedges, the water’s edge, grassy hillsides, and mountains; from 1885 to mid-20th century up until 1994. Notable photographers include F. Jay Haynes, William Eggleston, Ansel Adams, Arthur Wesley Dow, and William Henry Jackson.

Brian Allen, director of the Addison, embraced the museum’s newest exhibit and its selected works. “The Addison’s great collection of landscape photographs is here to serve the students. I’m delighted to see so many curators-in-training select and interpret some of these great treasures. I think the installation the students created is a sensitive and beautiful one. “

On display until July 13, Allen urged the Phillips Academy community to view The American Landscape or The Americans’ Landscape? “They worked hard, learned a lot, and I am sure our visitors, especially the families coming to graduation and the visiting alumni the next week, will love what they did.”

Alongside the student-led exhibit, the current shows on display at the Addison are Accommodating Nature: The Photographs of Frank Gohlke, an inspiring and complementary collection of American landscape photographs, Then and Now, a collection of “superlative examples of the Addison’s expansive collection,” and Carroll Dunham Prints: A Survey, over 100 creative graphic prints.

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Posted by Jaime DeSimone, Charles H. Sawyer Curatorial Fellow

Friday, May 23, 2008

All aboard!

Our artists have to find the poetry in train stations the way their fathers found poetry in forests and rivers. –Emile Zola, 1877

Opening with the aforementioned quote, Art in the Age of Steam, now on view at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England, charts artists’ responses to the railway from its first appearance in the 19th century. You’re probably curious as to why I’m commenting on an exhibition across the Atlantic Ocean, but the Addison has lent Edward Hopper’s Railroad Train to the traveling show and I was given an opportunity to see the exhibition.
The object label for the Addison’s painting reads:

"The embankment between us and the train seems to suggest that the railway separates people rather than brings them together. This is an early work by Hopper painted shortly after he returned to New York from Paris. The blurred brushwork, showing the influence of French impressionism, creates an illusion of speed."

Other paintings, prints and drawings highlight the rise of railroad stations in Europe and America, document various social classes in train compartments, and comment on both the excitement and fear of industrial progress in the modern age. Co-organized by the Walker Art Gallery and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, the exhibition will be on view in Liverpool through August 10th and then travel to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in September. If your summer travels bring you overseas or to the Midwest, then I’d recommend checking out this carefully crafted exhibition.

Posted by Jaime DeSimone, Charles H. Sawyer Curatorial Fellow

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Addison Receives Gift of Richard Serra Print

Today we hear from guest poster Brian T. Allen, the Addison's Mary Stripp & R. Crosby Kemper Director, regarding the Addison's latest acquisition:

I am delighted to announce the gift to the Addison of an important and dynamic print, D.T.E. by Richard Serra. Dating to 1999, the print was part of the landmark Addison exhibition, Richard Serra: Large Scale Prints, which appeared in Andover in 2004.

We are so pleased to have this gift for many reasons. First, it is an object of the very highest quality. The artist is among the most creative and influential of his time. The donor, Paul Schupf, is a collector of strong vision and sharp focus. The work augments our increasingly strong holdings of late twentieth century art. And it looks great on the walls of our galleries!

Richard Serra’s prints have always been fascinating to me. As a graduate student, I focused on prints but the artists I knew the most about ranged from Dürer to Whistler and the one or two generations of British printmakers who followed him. In school, my conception of an etching or an engraving or an aquatint or a drypoint was very much bound up in the work in these fields of the Old Masters. Serra was one of the early radicals in the 1960s and 1970s who took the conventional rules of printmaking and gave them entirely new potential and boundaries. D.T.E., for instance, is an etching but knowing the etchings of, say, Whistler, with their refined, ethereal lines, I had to look at the power of etching as a medium in a new way. Serra’s print evokes more the explosive energy of star newly born than the timelessness and discretion of a Venetian lagoon. Serra’s experimentation with new papers and inks is certainly central to etching’s new look as is his embrace of jagged shapes, powerful geometric forms, and, of course, a large scale.

Thanks to Paul Schupf for this wonderful gift, made in honor of my predecessor, Adam Weinberg. The print has been on deposit here for several years, and in the future as in the past we will use it for a range of exhibitions and also for teaching as part of our heralded education program. Gifts of this kind continue to make the Addison is very special place.

Addison in the News

Yankee Magazine has published a wonderful blog posting about two of our spring exhibitions.

here for a link to the article.

Don't forget...the reception celebrating our spring shows is this Friday (May 9, 2008) from 5:30 to 7:30. Hope to see you here!

Maggie Adler
Director of Development

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Lawrence High School Students Intern at the Addison

A student at Lawrence High School’s Performing and Fine Arts Academy recently expressed to her humanities teacher David Meehan, an interest in interning at the Addison Gallery. So with some planning between Mr. Meehan and the Addison’s education staff, she and nine classmates with a similar interest in museum studies began a six-week internship. Now four weeks into the program, this talented group of students has arrived each week with eagerness and motivation.

Because the interns were particularly interested in working with younger students, they have worked directly with school groups in the galleries. When fifth graders from Lynn came to see Birth of the Cool, the interns toured the exhibition with the students, engaging them in conversations about what they thought about what they were seeing.

After the visit, one of the interns, Meaghan, described the experience, “When we had group discussions, they all had their own ideas on what they thought was cool and what the word cool even meant.” Jeremy added, “I made some funny comments and related everything they were seeing to things they know. I also taught them some things they didn’t know.”

Julie and I are enjoying hearing

the interns’ impressions of how we work with students, and the interns have offered some suggestions for how we can make school visits even more effective. It is always helpful to us to have a fresh perspective.

In their last few weeks at the Addison, the interns are meeting with other Addison staff members, talking with artist-in-residence Carroll Dunham as he installs the exhibition of his prints, and synthesizing all that they have experienced during their Addison internship.

Amy Freedberg
Education Fellow