Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Collection Spotlight: Hollis Frampton, The Secret World of Frank Stella, 1958-1962

Frank Stella (Class of 1954), one of the most significant and influential American artists of the postwar period, began his journey as a painter six decades ago in the basement of the Addison Gallery of American Art. It was also at Andover that he first met Hollis Frampton (Class of 1954), who went on to become an equally distinguished photographer and filmmaker. Four years after graduation from Phillips Academy, the two met again in New York, where they briefly shared an apartment and rekindled what was to be a lifelong friendship. Frampton began his series of fifty-two black-and-white images, The Secret World of Frank Stella, in collaboration with Stella, who posed both in his studio and across the city.

Hollis Frampton (1936-1984), #3 (28 painting Getty Tomb) from The Secret World of Frank Stella, 1958-1962, gelatin silver print, gift of Marion Faller, Addison Art Drive, 1990.34.3

In fact, 1958 is a milestone in the careers of both artists; for Frampton, it was the year he reconnected with Andover classmates Frank Stella and Carl Andre (Class of 1953) and settled in New York; for Stella, it was the year Leo Castelli first visited his Broadway studio and saw his now famous Black Paintings. The time period documented by Frampton’s series includes several other noteworthy moments in Stella’s career; the presentation of his Black Paintings—an example can be seen in #3 (28 painting Getty Tomb) above—in the 1959-60 MoMA exhibition Sixteen Americans (Frampton also took Stella’s picture for the accompanying exhibition catalogue) was followed by the creation of two more series of stripe paintings, Aluminum and Copper, examples of which can be seen in #5 (112 hand through hole in aluminum ptg) and #45 (688 naked, ventral view) respectively.

In addition to photographing Stella and his paintings, Frampton also wrote about him; one such instance is the following passage from 12 Dialogues 1962-1963, a book he co-authored with Carl Andre: “Frank Stella is a Constructivist. He makes paintings by combining identical, discrete units. Those units are not stripes, but brush strokes. We have both watched Frank Stella paint a picture. He fills in a pattern with uniform elements. His stripe designs are the result of the shape and limitation of his primary unit.” Throughout 12 Dialogues, Frampton and Andre often refer to Stella to illustrate their intellectually rigorous analysis of various aesthetic issues pertaining to specific mediums or works of art. Indeed, Stella’s own intellectually rigorous approach to painting is, in great part, what elevated him to the pantheon of abstract art.

The presentation of The Secret World of Frank Stella at the Addison coincides with Mr. Stella’s receiving the Andover Alumni Award of Distinction on November 1, 2013.  For more information on attending the award ceremony, please visit https://secure.www.alumniconnections.com/olc/pub/PAA/event/showEventForm.jsp?form_id=158035.

— Kelley Tialiou, Curatorial Assistant

Further reading: Michael Zryd, "Hollis Frampton," in Addision Gallery of American Art 65 Years: A Selective Catalogue (Andover, MA: Addison Gallery of American Art, 1996), 373-74.

1 Hollis Frampton, "On Painting and Consecutive Matters November 4, 1962," in 12 Dialogues 1962-1963 (The Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and New York University Press, 1980), 37.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Addison Family Fun

James Prosek reads from his
children's books at Memorial Hall
Library's story hour
Earlier this month, the Addison hosted a fun-filled weekend for our younger audiences. We partnered with Andover's Memorial Hall Library, where our Artist-in-Residence James Prosek read from his children’s books Bird, Butterfly, Eel and A Good Day's Fishing. The library now has James’s books in their collection, so stop by and grab your copies today!

Visitors of all ages create art
inspired by James Prosek's
work at our Drop-In Family Day
On Sunday, October 6th, more than 125 people joined us for the Addison’s Drop-In Family Day, held in conjunction with the exhibition James Prosek: The Spaces In Between. Visitors of all ages created prints with stamps shaped like fish, contributed to a collaborative bird silhouette mural, and created their own hybrid animals with feathers and foil paper, all inspired by James Prosek’s work. Music from James’s band Troutband was playing in the background. James was on hand to talk with visitors about his work, offer art-making tips, and answer the many questions of his young star-struck fans.

--Christine Jee, Education Associate for School and Community Collaborations

Interested in staying up to date with future family events at the Addison? Follow us on Facebook or email cjee@andover.edu to sign up for the Addison’s family email list.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Collection Spotlight: Joan Lyons, Prom, 1975

In celebration of National Design Week, the Addison presents three objects from its collection, each highlighting different time periods, mediums, and aspects of American design. The final installment features a set of six offset lithographs that together compose Joan Lyons's Prom (1975).

Joan Lyons, Prom, 1975, six offset lithographs on wove paper, museum purchase, 1980.2.1-6

When put together, these six lithographs by Joan Lyons compose an image that is at once sweet and subtly intriguing.
On the one hand, the life-size scale of this piece invites a personal reading, by creating the illusion of peering into one’s closet and thus allowing for a rather intimate relationship with the object depicted. The delicate floral pattern and slightly faded pastel colors create an atmosphere of innocence and nostalgia for a time past, which turns the act of looking at this work of art into looking at the dress itself and reminiscing about the event at which it was once worn—whether a prom, as indicated by the title, or another moment of personal importance projected by the viewer.
On the other hand, the title informs the viewer about artwork’s intended associations. For Lyons, this hand-made dress symbolizes the difficulties of balancing the priorities of a mother and an artist, as well as the contrasts between preconceived and evolving notions of artistic expression; at first, the making of the dress delayed artistic output, then the dress itself dictated the imagery of the piece. The very way these two identities influence each other results in a delicate image with a powerful statement about the parallels of motherhood and artistic production: the mother sews together pieces of fabric to make her daughter’s prom dress, while the artist creates a set of images for the viewer to visually “sew” together. 

Active as a visual artist for four decades, Joan Lyons (b. 1937) was the subject of a 2007 retrospective exhibition at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center. Lyons’s works on paper effortlessly span several mediums, including various photographic processes and printmaking techniques. As the Founding Director of the Visual Studies Workshop Press between 1972 and 2004, Lyons has published over 450 titles, primarily artists’ books.

--Kelley Tialiou, Curatorial Assistant

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Collection Spotlight: Stuart Travis, Design for Yacht Interior, c. 1914

In celebration of National Design Week, the Addison presents three objects from its collection, each highlighting different time periods, mediums, and aspects of American design. The second installment is an early 20th century drawing, Design for a Yacht Interior by Stuart Travis.

Stuart Travis, Design for a Yacht Interior, c. 1914, ink, watercolor, gouache, pencil on wove paper, gift of Stuart Travis, 1959.8

This elegant mixed-media drawing, Design for Yacht Interior, features Stuart Travis’s proposed design for the breakfast room of a yacht, and reflects interior decorating practices of the Gilded Age, a period in which luxury yachting was a status symbol of paramount importance. The Arts and Crafts silver breakfast service shown on the table to the left, including what appears to be a pair of cafe-au-lait pots, and the Sheraton-style settee with rattan seat and back—as indicated by the designer’s note at the bottom of the drawing—suggest an environment of relaxed opulence, with a white cloth napkin nonchalantly placed on the edge of the tray and the yellow drapery flapping in the ocean breeze. For the floor of the breakfast room, Travis proposed a rather unassuming “hand-woven rag-rug in oval shape,” presumably to add an air of informality to the space; unlike the main saloon of a yacht, which would have featured the most extravagant furnishings and textiles, the breakfast room was, by nature, a more private space, and therefore its decoration could be based more so on the owner’s personal taste rather than the etiquette of elite society.

Though the patron of this sketch is not identified and therefore his tastes cannot be known, comparison with other high society interiors from this period, both afloat and ashore, indicates that the American aristocracy took its cultural cues from several European sources, primarily French chateaux, Italian villas, and English manors, eclectically combining Louis XIV, XV, and XVI, Rococo, Renaissance Revival, Neoclassical, and various English styles across the different rooms. While in the early twentieth century the profession of decorator was gradually becoming established, it was yet not uncommon for patrons to hire artists for part or all of their interior decoration needs.

A prolific American artist, illustrator, and designer, Stuart Travis (1868-1942) studied at the Académie Julian in Paris and subsequently established a New York studio. Numerous of his drawings and watercolors appeared in contemporary magazines, books, and advertisements; specifically, between 1907 and 1910, seven of his illustrations graced the pages and cover of Vogue magazine. Travis also created two murals on the Phillips Academy campus: History and Traditions of the School and Vicinity (1928) at the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library and Culture Areas of North America (1938-42) at The Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology. For more information on Travis and his Andover murals, visit www.andover.edu/Museums/MuseumOfArchaeology/Pages/Stuart-Travis-Mural.aspx and

-- Kelley Tialiou, Curatorial Assistant

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Collection Spotlight: Phoebe Denison Billings, Bed Rug, 1741

In celebration of National Design Week, the Addison presents three objects from its collection, each highlighting different time periods, mediums, and aspects of American design. The first installment is an exquisite example of an 18th-century Bed Rug by Phoebe Denison Billings.

Phoebe Denison Billings, Bed Rug, 1741, wool worked on wool ground, bequest of Henry Perkins Moseley, 1940.25

The bed rug, used as an outer bedcover during the cold New England winter, is a fascinating object of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century domestic design, as its fabrication process was carried out single-handedly—and therefore controlled exclusively—by the rug maker, from collecting, washing, and carding (or combing) the fleece to spinning it into wool yarn, dyeing the yarn, weaving the fabric, and finally embroidering the patterns. This sophisticated early example of an embroidered wool bed rug was made in Connecticut, the source of most extant bed rugs. In the roughly symmetrical, graphically dramatic floral patterns, tulips and carnations have been combined with broad stylized leaves in an imaginary composition featuring two tones of yellow accented by two tones of green, set against a black background with a deep blue border. The shape of this early bed rug, however, varies from later ones, which typically consist of a square with the bottom two corners rounded.

Two interesting clues pertaining to the bed rug’s history can be found within the design itself; above the floral centerpiece appears the year of its fabrication, while below there is a set of initials, “B/EP.” It is important to note that Phoebe Billings (1690-1775), née Denison, was married to Ebenezer Billings, hence the initials “B” for Billings at top, followed by their first initials, “E” and “P.” The widespread tradition in eighteenth-century New England society, according to which young brides produced bedcovers with the couple’s initials, would suggest that Phoebe and Ebenezer were married in 1741.  What is curious in this instance, however, is that according to surviving records, the couple was married in 1706; in fact, in 1741 Phoebe was 51 years old, had already been married to Ebenezer for 35 years and given birth to ten children. Therefore, in the pre-Victorian era, when specific symbolic gifts for each major wedding anniversary were not yet established, the making of this rug was likely meant to commemorate the couple’s 35th anniversary and celebrate a long and fruitful life in unison.

-- Kelley Tialiou, Curatorial Assistant