One of my favorite artists in the Carter’s collection is innovative printmaker and sculptor Louise Nevelson (1899–1988). Whenever I see one of her imaginative sculptures, it always seems to command attention no matter its size or the other works in the same gallery. Get to know this great American artist a little better and be on the lookout for her work at the Carter and other art museums you visit”¦
Black, white, and gold are the signature colors of Nevelson’s sculptures–colors that transform her found object assemblages from a mixture of items like bedposts and chair seats to masterful displays of pure aesthetic form. She was born in Kiev in 1899 and immigrated to Rockland, Maine, in 1905. She eventually made her way to New York City, where she not only filled her days with creating artworks, but also became a student of modern dance, combining the two in the Carter’s sculpture [Untitled] (ca. 1935), which represents a kneeling dancer engaged in dynamic movement. “Modern dance certainly makes you aware of movement,” Nevelson recalled, “and that moving from the center of the being is where we generate and create our own energy . . . I became aware of every fiber, and it freed me.” Her exploration of motion continued in the Carter’s [Untitled] (ca. 1947), which is designed for each abstract piece to rotate on a central axis (although you must only imagine the movement rather than engage in a hands-on lesson!).
Nevelson is best known for her wall reliefs of all sizes using found objects like the Carter’s Lunar Landscape (1959–60).
She would roam the streets around her New York studio, searching for the perfect items to combine in monochromatic sculptures–recycling long before the term became fashionable! Lunar Landscape, Sky Cathedral, Silent Music IX, America Dawn–her titles reflect her idea that viewers should consider each work’s beauty of form and line instead of trying to determine the identities of the included objects. To me, Nevelson’s works hold appeal because of her creativity and ability to transform a myriad of scavenged objects into a beautiful unified whole. The next time you’re at the Carter head into the galleries and let her sculptures inspire you.
Happy Thanksgiving from Photo of the Week!
And also a reminder that you only have 5 days to see the Carter's photography exhibition, Circle of Friends: Portraits of Artists, which closes this Sunday.
Laura Gilpin, [Laura and turkey], ca. 1913-1915, autochrome, © 1979 Amon Carter Museum
189 years ago today, ship captain and seal hunter Captain Nathaniel Palmer was the first American to see Antarctica. Surprisingly enough, he was only 21 years old at the time. The United States' scientific research station in Antarctica, several natural landmarks, and two research vessels are all named in honor of Captain Palmer.
Photographer Eliot Porter visited Palmer Station in 1976. The following are some of his shots of the landscape surrounding Palmer Station, Antarctica.
Arthur's Harbor, Palmer Station, Antarctica, January 1976, dye imbibition print
Arch Iceberg, Kristi Cove, Bonaparte Point, Palmer Station, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, February 1976, dye imbibition print
Ice and Snowbank, Litchfield Island, Palmer Station, Antarctica, February 11, 1976, dye imbibition print
Iceberg and Evening Clouds, Palmer Station, Antarctica, February 21, 1976, dye imbibition print
I'm leaving for Portland bright and early tomorrow morning for a museum technology conference, so this installment of Photo of the Week shows two of the Carter's 19th-century photographs of the Oregon landscape.
Frank Jay Haynes, Cascades of Columbia, albumen silver print, 1885
William Henry Jackson, Hercules' Pillars, Columbia River, Oregon, albumen silver print, ca. 1892
Today's installment of Photo of the Week is for all you armchair leaf peepers out there. The Carter's collection contains way too many gorgeous fall photographs to include in a blog post, thanks to our massive archive of nature photographs by Eliot Porter and numerous works by his stylistic followers. These fall landscapes can range from the idyllic to the downright psychedelic...and that's the end of the spectrum we're looking at today. The following three photographs are all by Robert Glenn Ketchum, a landscape photographer strongly influenced by Eliot Porter (and the subject of the Carter's 2006 exhibition, Robert Glenn Ketchum and the Legacy of Eliot Porter).
Brewster Boogie Woogie, 27, 1979, Gift of Advocacy Arts Foundation, ©1979 Robert Glenn Ketchum
Sun Dance, 1989, Gift of Advocacy Arts Foundation, ©1989 Robert Glenn Ketchum
Predawn Glow, Elk Point, 1978, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. John Uphold, © 1988 Robert Glenn Ketchum
Photographer Roy DeCarava died this week at age 89. DeCarava, whose body of work included famous portraits of jazz greats and subtle images of life in Harlem, was awarded the National Medal of Arts and was the first African American artist to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Carter has four photographs by DeCarava in its collection, and you can see an extensive slide show of his works on the NYT Lens photography blog.
Our Photo of the Week comes from the Carter's Eliot Porter archive, which is 99.9% nature photography. Along with a handful of photos featuring urban scenes, the archive also contains this little gem from a trip Porter took to New York in 1979. And yes, I really wish I knew what was behind that wall!
Eliot Porter, New York City, November 1979, dye imbibition print
Bequest of the artist, ©1990 Amon Carter Museum
The Carter has loaned seven of its over three hundred works by Charles M. Russell to the artist’s first major retrospective exhibition since his death in 1926. The Masterworks of Charles M. Russell will be on view at the Denver Art Museum through January 10, 2010; from there it travels to the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. [Denver Post review of the exhibition <a href=http://www.denverpost.com/entertainment/ci_13620640">here]
The Carter’s loan to the exhibition includes six paintings – The Silk Robe, The Buffalo Hunt [No. 39], The Medicine Man, In Without Knocking, A Tight Dally and a Loose Latigo, and Breaking Camp – and one sculpture, The Enemy’s Tracks.
Soon to come: photographs of delivery & installation of the Russell works in Denver!
Charles M. Russell, The Medicine Man, oil on canvas, 1908
This morning I was taking a gander at a printed inventory in our files that details Amon G. Carter's personal library. My understanding is that by the time of his death in 1955, he had amassed about 4,000 titles. His collection was buoyed by the purchase of two private libraries: the Louis P. Merrill collection that focused on western cattle trade, range grasses, and Texas history; and the Frank B. Smith collection that focused on books illustrated by Frederic Remington and other artists of that genre. Carter's library came to the museum shortly after its opening in 1961. By this time, Carter's library had expanded to take in a wide range of subjects consistent with his varied interests. The original library of 4,000 titles got weeded to about 2,500 titles with subject matter most appropriate to the museum's mission. Today I tip my hat to Mr. Carter and his fine library that forms the nucleus of the museum's library collection. Today the collection includes over 100,000 items.