Surrealism

Inscribed Books at the Akron Art Museum

by Stefanie Hilles, Education Assistant

Imagine this. You visit the Akron Art Museum and fall in love under the “roof cloud” (the museum’s 327 foot long steel cantilever that joins the old 1899 post office building with the new 2007 Coop Himmelb(l)au structure). No, not with some beautiful stranger you exchange eye contact with across the museum’s lobby (although that would be pretty exciting too). Instead, you fall in love with a beautiful artwork. Maybe you’re a fan of American Impressionism and succumb to the charms of Abel G. Warshawsky’s pure color technique in The Seine at Andelys showing in the McDowell Galleries (and also installed as a reproduction at the International Institute in North Hill as part of the Inside|Out project). Perhaps you prefer your artists a bit more surrealistically inclined and become entranced by Art Green’s Delicate Situation in the Haslinger Galleries. Or possibly, landscape photography is more to your liking and you discover Robert Glenn Ketchum’s CVNRA #866 (from the Federal Lands Series), on view in the Arnstein Galleries as part of Proof: Photographs from the Collection.

Abel G. Warshawsky (Sharon, Pennsylvania, 1883 - 1962, Monterey, California) The Seine at Andelys, 1923 Oil on canvas 32 in. x 39 1/4 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of Miss Malvyn Wachner in memory of her brother, Charles B. Wachner.

Abel G. Warshawsky, The Seine at Andelys, 1923. Oil on canvas. 32 in. x 39 1/4 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of Miss Malvyn Wachner in memory of her brother, Charles B. Wachner.

Like the start of any epic love affair, you are captivated. You have to know more. So, you head in to the museum’s Martha Stecher Reed Library to do some research. The librarian hands you your desired books and you dive right in. Much to your delight, the books are autographed.  The Akron Art Museum is full of surprises.

Inscribed copy of Abel G. Warshawsky: Master-Painter, Humanist

Inscribed copy of Abel G. Warshawsky: Master-Painter, Humanist

Abel G. Warshawsky: Master-Painter, Humanist by Louis Gay Balsam came into the library’s collection in 1959 at the bequest of Mrs. Minna Wachner, whose generous gifts to the museum also include two oil paintings: Le Pont de la Cité, Martigues by Warsharsky and Landscape by William John Edmondson. The book, which is mostly dedicated to fifty black and white lithographs reproducing the artist’s work, was published by the Carmel Valley Art Gallery that, while no longer in existence, was once near to the artist’s Monterey, California home where he lived after his return from Paris in 1939. Dedicated to Billie Wachner, “Who is a dear sweet and wonderful friend [sic],” Abel signed with his nickname, Buck, as well as the longer A.G. Warshawsky.

Art Green, Delicate Situation,  1968

Art Green, Delicate Situation, 1968. Oil on canvas. 69 in. x 45 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Gift of William and Deborah Struve.

Autographed copy of Art Green: Tell Tale Signs accompanied an exhibition of the same name at the Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery in Chicago, held from December 9th 2011 through January 21st 2012.

Autographed copy of Art Green: Tell Tale Signs accompanied an exhibition of the same name at the Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery in Chicago, held from December 9th 2011 through January 21st 2012.

Art Green: Tell Tale Signs accompanied an exhibition of the same name at the Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery in Chicago, held from December 9th 2011 through January 21st 2012. While the exhibition focused on work created years after Delicate Situation, the interview at the beginning of the text explains some of Green’s recurring  images, namely, the ice-cream cone and the flame that are found in Delicate Situation. Green states, “The image of the ice cream cone interested me because it is so idealized, not because of any specific symbolism. I like opposition and the flame offers that here” (p. 5). Another autograph can be found in Art Green, published by the CUE Art Foundation in 2009 to accompany the first solo exhibition of the artist’s work in New York since 1981. This exhibition was curated by Jim Nutt, who, along with Green, was a member of the Chicago artist group, “The Hairy Who,” that consisted of five recent graduates from the Art Institute of Chicago known for their grotesque subject matter and carefully finished style.

Robert Glenn Ketchum, CVNRA #866, from the Federal Lands series, 1988 Cibachrome print 24 in. x 30 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Purchased with funds from Kathleen and Gordon Ewers.

Robert Glenn Ketchum, CVNRA #866, from the Federal Lands series, 1988. Cibachrome print. 24 in. x 30 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Purchased with funds from Kathleen and Gordon Ewers.

In 1986, the Akron Art Museum commissioned Robert Glenn Ketchum to photograph the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area (CVNRA). Many of these images, taken over the course of several years and throughout different seasons, were later published in Overlooked in America: Photographs by Robert Glenn Ketchum. Compared to the understated signatures contributed by Warshawsky and Green, Robert Glenn Ketchum’s autograph takes on an almost landscape-like quality, with sweeping, flowing organic lines. Ketchum’s book uses the CVNRA as an example of national parks in general, exploring how man and nature interact and how the government manages its federal lands. The CVNRA series can be read in conjunction with another museum commission. In 1979, Lee Friedlander (whose work is also included in Proof) was contracted to photograph the industrial landscape around the Akron/Cleveland area, popularly known as the rust belt. In comparison to Friedlander’s bleak emphasis on desolate factories and the urban landscape, Ketchum’s landscape photographs demonstrate the natural beauty of the Akron area.

autographed copy of Overlooked in America: Photographs by Robert Glenn Ketchum

autographed copy of Overlooked in America: Photographs by Robert Glenn Ketchum

What is it about an autograph that seems to impart some extra knowledge about a person? Sometimes it’s what the person says in an inscription, as in the case of Abel G. Warshaswsky, that gives some insight into the artist’s life. Other times, it’s the style of the handwriting. Whatever the case, it’s an interesting and delightful surprise to discover these autographed works because you seem to get just a bit more information about the artist, something more human than what is captured in the descriptions and analysis of their work.

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Digital Media Tour

Do you have a blog or active Twitter account devoted to the arts or activities in Northeast Ohio?

Thursday, August 22 at 6 pm

If so, we would like to invite you to attend the Akron Art Museum’s first-ever Digital Media Tour. Focusing on Real/Surreal, this tour led by Chief Curator Janice Driesbach explores many themes of realist and surrealist art in American from the 1920s-1950s. Learn how artists balanced the real and unreal, created fantasy/dreamlike images with unique materials, and dealt with the tumultuous events of the era.

To participate send an email to bBeard@AkronArtMuseum.org with your blog address or Twitter handle and a brief description of the subjects you cover and the people you reach. The deadline to register is Tuesday, August 20 and spots are limited.

This exhibition was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

The Akron presentation has been made possible by major grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Henry Luce Foundation with additional support from the Lehner Family Foundation, Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, Corbin Foundation, Ohio Arts Council and Harris-Stanton Gallery.

  

This is Real! Installing Real/Surreal at the Akron Art Museum

By: Liz Carney, Curatorial Assistant

Have you ever wondered what happens behind closed gallery doors when the museum is changing its exhibitions?

Lots of work goes into installing an exhibition. Most importantly, it takes a lot of time and care to take works of art from their crates to the gallery walls.

Each artwork comes in its own travel frame, which is specially padded and shaped to fit it. Paintings are usually bolted to the bottom of their travel frames to keep them from shifting during transit. Here is Charles Sheeler’s River Rouge Plant (1932) being unbolted by AAM art handlers:

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Then, the painting is meticulously examined to make sure that it hasn’t been damaged during travel.IMG_0552

IMG_0575The artwork is all then arranged so that the curators can fine-tune the exhibition layout. Notice how the painting has been carefully placed against the wall in order to protect it before it is hung in its permanent position.

IMG_0587Finally, everything goes up on the wall! It’s not as easy as it may seem to get everything exactly straight and evenly spaced…

IMG_0661After all of the art has been placed on the walls, we add labels, lighting and other details. You’ll have to come see for yourself the completed installation of these powerful works of art, which are even more striking and intriguing in person!

 

Want to be one of the first people to see this exhibition? The opening party is tonight (Friday, July 19) at 6 pm. Click for more details.

Preparing for Real/Surreal

By: Janice Driesbach, Chief Curator

This week, painters came in to work on one of the galleries where we are installing Real/Surreal , changing the walls from white to dark blue and gray.  For much of the past month, Joe Walton (our Chief Preparator and Exhibition Designer) and Chris Ross (Preparator) have been working with curators to determine the design of our installation.

Part of that process involves painting color samples and placing them in a ½-inch scale model of the museum’s galleries.  This allows us  to look at and talk about wall colors and other design elements in advance of each exhibition.  Wall color is a very important factor in the overall feel of an exhibition, and it can change the way that individual paintings and other artworks look within the galleries.  After considering a number of color schemes, we’ve decided to use dark and light grays and saturated blues for Real/Surreal.  Also look for a splash of bright chartreuse in the section devoted to surrealist photography!

1/2 inch model for Real/Surreal

1/2 inch model for Real/Surreal

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1/2 inch model for Real/Surreal.

Real/Surreal is Coming Soon

By: Janice Driesbach, Chief Curator

Edward Hopper, Railroad Sunset, 1929, oil on canvas, 29 1/4 x 48 in., Josephine N. Hopper Bequest, Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art

Edward Hopper, Railroad Sunset, 1929, oil on canvas, 29 1/4 x 48 in., Josephine N. Hopper Bequest, Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art

It’s just over four weeks before Real/Surreal opens and Akron Art Museum curatorial, education and design staff have been planning the installation for  months. Although the exhibition is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, we are personalizing it for our Akron visitors.

Our efforts respond to input we received from our constituents in surveys and a focus group last fall.  We learned our visitors are interested in knowing about the historic context in which the artists were working, so we’ve created a timeline for our installation. As well, our respondents indicated an interest in having the artworks installed thematically, so we are presenting the exhibition in sections.

For the first section, we have selected paintings that can be best described as Realist (Charles Sheeler, Andrew Wyeth) and most Surrealist (Man Ray and Yves Tanguy) to contrast the two styles.  Succeeding sections include Alone in the City, Interior Portraits, Social Concern, Empty Landscapes, Leisure, and Man and Machine.  There will also be an expanded section of surrealist photography, reflecting the importance of photography to surrealist artists and to the Akron Art Museum, and three short Surrealist films playing in our Jerry and Patsy Shaw Video Box.

We look forward to your comments on the Real/Surreal exhibition.  Please fill out the contact form below if you would like to be invited to take surveys and participate in community meetings to help us plan future museum exhibitions.

 Clarence John Laughlin, The Masks Grow to Us, 1950 (printed 1962), gelatin silver print, 13 7/8 in. x 11 in., Collection of the Akron Art Museum,  Gift of David Cooper  1997.19


Clarence John Laughlin, The Masks Grow to Us, 1950 (printed 1962), gelatin silver print, 13 7/8 in. x 11 in., Collection of the Akron Art Museum,
Gift of David Cooper 1997.19