Category Archives: Philadelphia Museum of Art

Modern Times

Modern Times, Charles Demuth, Lancaster (In the Province No. 2)Lancaster (In the Province No. 2), 1920, by Charles Demuth, American, 1883 – 1935. Oil on canvas, 30 x 16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950-5-1.

World-class Modernism Exhibition at The Philadelphia Museum of Art

By Bob Moore

The works of art in the Philadelphia Museum of Art‘s Modern Times exhibition, covering a period of artistic upheaval from 1910 to 1950, are seldom unexpected or unfamiliar. The modernist trend which they embody is deeply etched into our cultural unconscious, the background or context to everything that has happened since in the art world. Marcel DuChamp‘s nude descending her staircase, Georgia O’Keefe‘s succulent flowers, Marsden Hartley‘s colorful World War I compositions: these were the visual soil that Americans like myself grew up in.

Modern Times, Alfred Stieglitz, The City of AmbitionThe City of Ambition, 1910 (negative); c. 1930 (print), by Alfred Stieglitz, American, 1871 – 1944. Gelatin silver print, image/sheet/mount: 4 1/4 x 3 3/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-47.

Walking through the 160-some pieces in the exhibition is like paging through the Modern American Art section of an extensive History of Art, with few outright surprises.

What is surprising (at least to me) in this exhibition was how many of these works are owned outright by the Philadelphia Museum of Art‘ (PMA). Not on loan from some internationally-recognized museum, but property of the PMA. Ours, all ours. This highlights a side of the exhibit not about Art but about Acquisitions. PMA’s Chief Executive Officer, Timothy Rub, in a foreword to the associated book, notes that “It was during the 1940s that the PMA’s holding of modern European and American art were established through several important gifts…” including donations by Albert E. GallatinGeorgia O’Keefe and Alfred Steiglitz, and Walter and Louise Arensburg (not Annanberg, another Philadelphia philanthropist who bequeathed his collection instead to the rival Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York).

Modern Times, Marsden Hartley, Painting No 4 (Black Horse)Painting No. 4 (A Black Horse), 1915, by Marsden Hartley, American, 1877 -1943. Oil on canvas, 39 1/4 x 31 5/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-8

There are a few works in the show not owned (yet) by the PMA: the book identifies one statue lent by a Museum Trustee and some fourteen paintings (including Charles Demuth‘s sizzling Jazz lent by another Trustee, with a note hinting at their eventual acquisition by the Museum.

The Modern Times exhibition curator was Jessica Todd Smith. In an essay in the associated book, she tells how the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) pioneered Modern Art in Philadelphia. But an ill-fated one-month PAFA exhibition of works from the collection of Albert C. Barnes in 1923 caused a ridiculous public outcry (the work was “trash,” and “the creations of a disintegrating mind,” said reviewers; think of peasants with torches and pitchforks).

Smith says the “critical reaction to the Barnes collection in 1923 scared PAFA’s board from presenting any further exhibitions of modern art until the 1950s…” The controversy also led to Barnes’ alienation from the Philadelphia art scene and all that followed. See Philadelphia Inquirer, Barnes at the Pennsylvania Academy: A scandal in 1923, May 4, 2012, by much-missed art critic Ed Sozanski.

The PMA then “picked up the modernist gauntlet,” Smith writes, under museum director Fiske Kimball. Smith says other figures in PMA’s acquisition of American Modern Art included R. Sturgis Ingersoll and Carl Zigrosser.

In a footnote 41 to her essay, Smith notes that some work was excluded from the exhibition, including “work that wholeheartedly embraces abstraction to the exclusion of any hints of figuration, leaving out most geometric abstraction and, on the more painterly end of the spectrum, Abstract Expressionism…” She also regretted that the museum had holes in its collections, including Social Realism, Regionalism, Native American, and Central and South American art.

In footnote 25, Smith lists the various art clubs that kept Modern Art alive in Philadelphia, including the Philadelphia Sketch Club and the Philadelphia Art Alliance — but most notably not including the Plastic Club, an artists’ club which has been around since 1897.

The drama of acquisition politics and finance aside, however, the work in the Modern Times  show is a world-class exhibition put on single-handedly by our local museum. Don’t miss it!

MODERN TIMES: American Art 1910 – 1950Philadelphia Museum of Art April 18-September 3, 2018

(Associated Book) AMERICAN MODERNISM: Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art by Jessica Todd Smith

Thank you to Bob Moore for the content of this post.

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Modern Times

Modern Times - Thomas Hart Benton - BurlesqueBurlesque, c. 1922, by Thomas Hart Benton, American, 1889 – 1975. Tempera on panel, 9 1/2x 12 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Edward Suckle, M.D., 2002-91-1. © T. H. Benton and R. P. Benton Testamentary Trusts / UMB Bank Trustee / Licensed by VAGA, New York.

Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Exhibition dates: April 18—September 3, 2018

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is presenting an exhibition exploring the creative responses of American artists to the rapid pace of change that occurred in this country during the early decades of the twentieth century. Modern Times: American Art 1910–1950 examines the new and dynamic visual language that emerged during this period and had a dramatic impact on painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, architecture, and the decorative arts. These developments were shaped by the dizzying transformations then occurring in every aspect of life, from the advent of the automobile and moving pictures to the rapid growth of American cities and the wrenching economic change brought on by the advent of the Great Depression after a decade of unprecedented prosperity. The exhibition features important works by those artists—Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and John Marin, among them—championed by the great photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz, as well as many other notable figures of this period. Modern Times is drawn almost entirely from the Museum’s renowned collection, especially the gift from the Stieglitz Collection that it received in the late 1940s, and contains 156 works, several of which will be on view for the first time.

Modern Times, Alexander Calder, Portrait of Carl ZigrosserPortrait of Carl Zigrosser (1891 – 1975), c. 1928, by Alexander Calder, American, 1898 – 1976. wire, 14 x 10 1/2 x 10 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund from the Carl and Laura Zigrosser Collection, 1980-3-141. © Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Timothy Rub, the Museum’s George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, stated: “America’s embrace of modern life—its perils as well as its promise—in the early twentieth century was expressed most clearly in the arts. The work of this period still feels fresh and of the moment. This exhibition provides us with a welcome opportunity to reassess the Museum’s exceptionally rich holdings of modern American art and how we may display them to full advantage in the future when the Museum completes its expansion under its Master Plan. It also holds the promise of many surprises and discoveries for our visitors.”

Modern Times, Stuart Davis, Something on the Eight BallSomething on the Eight Ball, 1953-1954, by Stuart Davis, American, 1892 – 1964. Oil on canvas, 56 × 45 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the Adele Haas Turner and Beatrice Pastorius Turner Memorial Fund, 1954-30-1. © Estate of Stuart Davis / Licensed by VAGA, New York.

While the Museum has presented a number of exhibitions devoted to this subject over the years, Modern Times is the largest and most comprehensive since it presented the collection of Alfred Stieglitz in 1944. The exhibition opens with the achievements of some of the leading figures of “The Eight,” including John Sloan and George Bellows, who recorded the changing urban scene with a gritty realism as horse carts gave way to motor vehicles on city streets.

Modern Times, Beauford Delaney, Portrait of James BaldwinPortrait of James Baldwin, 1945, by Beauford Delaney, American (active Paris), 1901 – 1979. Oil on canvas, 22 x 18 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: 125th Anniversary Acquisition. Purchased with funds contributed by The Daniel W. Dietrich Foundation in memory of Joseph C. Bailey and with a grant from The Judith Rothschild Foundation, 1998-3-1

The exhibition emphasizes those artists—among them Charles Demuth, Morton Schamberg, Charles Sheeler, Benton Spruance, and Paul Strand—who responded to the Armory Show of 1913 and the influence of the European avant garde by seeking to give modernism an authentic American voice. Offering a broader perspective on American art of this period, the exhibition explores the achievements of important African American figures, such as Aaron Douglas, William Edmondson, Horace Pippin and Dox Thrash. It also looks at cross-currents within the arts, including contemporary fashion and design, and work by female artists such as O’Keeffe, Florine Stettheimer, Frances Simpson Stevens, Kay Sage, and Dorothea Tanning.

Modern Times, Charles Demuth, Lancaster (In the Province No. 2)Lancaster (In the Province No. 2), 1920, by Charles Demuth, American, 1883 – 1935. Oil on canvas, 30 x 16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950-5-1.

One section of the exhibition takes a close look at the many artists who explored in their work the abstract qualities of rhythm, light, and sound. Some of their aesthetic strategies were employed to create dynamic still lifes, enlivening what was commonly considered a static genre. Another section explores the expressive use of color, focusing on Arthur Beecher Carles, Henry Breckenridge, and Henry McCarter who stretched the boundaries of artistic tradition by relieving color of its purely descriptive function. These three artists, each of whom lived and worked in Philadelphia, reflected this city’s active engagement with progressive trends in American art. In fact, the significant role that Philadelphia played in the history of American modernism is echoed throughout the exhibition. It includes works by Philadelphia-born artists such as Man Ray and Alexander Calder who became prominent abroad, where they were closely aligned with modern movements in Europe, and others who remained in the city in which the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts provided a center of energy and a place to teach.

Modern Times, Aaron Doulgas, Birds in FlightBirds in Flight, c. 1927-1929, by Aaron Douglas, American, 1899 – 1979. Oil on canvas, 16 1/4 x 14 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest in honor of Anne d’Harnoncourt, 2015-7-1. © Heirs of Aaron Douglas / Licensed by VAGA, New York

Modern Times, Arthur Dove, Chinese MusicChinese Music, 1923, by Arthur Dove, American, 1880 -1946. Oil and metallic paint on panel, 21 11/16 x 18 1/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-2.

Landscape painting was, likewise, revolutionized by the artists of this generation, who found in this traditional genre a sustained source of inspiration. The adaptation of the modernist vision to one of the most enduring themes in American art can be seen most dramatically in works by O’Keeffe, Hartley, and Arthur Dove. Others, such as Sheeler, took the stark, yet impressive geometry of the new industrial landscape as a point of departureThe exhibition also examines another familiar subject, the human figure, which proved to be of abiding interest to the artists of this generation. Included in this rich and fascinating section is a group of portraits by artists such as Milton Avery, Beauford Delaney, and John Graham.

Modern Times, Wharton Esherick, Of a Great CityOf a Great City, 1923, by Wharton H. Esherick, American, 1887 – 1970. Wood engraving, image: 9 15/16 x 6 5/16 inches, sheet: 11 7/16 x 7 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund from the Carl and Laura Zigrosser Collection, 1979-12-11.

Modern Times, Marsden Hartley, Painting No 4 (Black Horse)Painting No. 4 (A Black Horse), 1915, by Marsden Hartley, American, 1877 -1943. Oil on canvas, 39 1/4 x 31 5/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-8

Jessica Todd Smith, The Susan Gray Detweiler Curator of American Art, and Manager, Center for American Art, who organized the exhibition, said: “Modernism changed the way people saw the world around them. Artists pushed their work in new directions, embracing abstraction, while retaining connections to artistic traditions. This exhibition focuses on interrelationships among works of art rather than a single linear narrative. In fact, it gives voice to multiple narratives because the evolution and experimentation in the art of this period is especially fluid. This stylistic pluralism, the beautiful chaos of innovation, was a hallmark of the modern American movement.”

 Modern Times, Alice Neel, Portrait of John with HatPortrait of John with Hat, 1935, by Alice Neel, American, 1900 – 1984. Oil on canvas, 23 1/2 x 21 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of the estate of Arthur M. Bullowa, 1993-119-2.

Modern Times, Georgia O'Keeffe, Red and Orange StreakRed and Orange Streak, 1919, by Georgia O’Keeffe, American, 1887 – 1986. Oil on canvas, 27 x 23 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1987-70-3.

Publication

The exhibition is accompanied by a new publication, American Modernism: Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, by Jessica Todd Smith. It is published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press ( 272 pp.) The title of the essay, “Seeing Takes Time” is inspired by a quotation of Georgia O’Keeffe: “Nobody sees a flower—really—it is so small—we haven’t time—and to see takes time . . . “

Modern Times, Georgia O'Keeffe, Red Hills and BonesRed Hills and Bones, 1943, by Georgia O’Keeffe, American, 1887 – 1986. Oil on canvas, 29 3/4 x 40 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-109.

Modern Times, Georgia O'Keeffe, From the Lake No. 3From the Lake No. 3, 1924, by Georgia O’Keeffe, American, 1887 – 1986. Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1987-70-2.

With 120 color and 10 black-and-white illustrations, American Modernism is the first book to showcase this outstanding aspect of the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which was one of the first major museums in this country to acquire what we now call American Modernism. It tells a story that is unique to the Museum, examining the collection’s development since the 1920s and the role that the city of Philadelphia played in promoting modernism in the first half of the twentieth century. While previous publications have focused on European and American modernism, this one considers what it meant to be American and to be modern, exploring how these artists challenged convention without abandoning recognizable elements from the world around them.

Modern Times, Horace Pippin, The GetawayThe Getaway, 1939, by Horace Pippin, American, 1888 – 1946. Oil on canvas, 24 5/8 x 36 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Daniel W. Dietrich II, 2016-3-3.

Modern Times, Man Ray, A.D. 1914A.D. 1914, 1914, by May Ray, American, 1890 – 1976. Oil on canvas, 36 7/8 x 69 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1944-90-1.

In addition to focusing on internationally acclaimed artists from the circle of photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz, including Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Charles Sheeler, Smith also considers those who contributed significantly to the art of the United States during their day but have been left outside the mainstream of art history, whether due to their race, gender, or social standing.

Modern Times, Charles Sheeler, Pertaining to Yachts and YachtingPertaining to Yachts and Yachting, 1922, by Charles Sheeler, American, 1883 – 1965. Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 1/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Margaretta S. Hinchman, 1955-96-9.

American Modernism: Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art is now available online via philamuseum.org or in the Museum Store (paper-over-board, $35).

Modern Times, John Sloan, Sixth Avenue and Thirtieth StreetSixth Avenue and Thirtieth Street, 1907, by John Sloan, American, 1871 – 1951. Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 32 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Meyer P. Potamkin and Vivian O. Potamkin, 2000. 1964-116-5.

Modern Times, John Sloan, The White WayThe White Way, c. 1926, by John Sloan, American, 1871 – 1951. Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 32 1/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Mrs. Cyrus McCormick, 1946-10-2.

Exhibition Location

Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor

 Modern Times, Alfred Stieglitz, The City of AmbitionThe City of Ambition, 1910 (negative); c. 1930 (print), by Alfred Stieglitz, American, 1871 – 1944. Gelatin silver print, image/sheet/mount: 4 1/4 x 3 3/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949-18-47.

Modern Times, Paul Strand, The Court, New YorkThe Court, New York, 1924 (negative); 1960s (print), by Paul Strand, American, 1890 – 1976. Gelatin silver print, image (sight): 9 1/2 x 7 7/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915 – 1975, gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980-21-42.

Support

This exhibition has been made possible by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, The Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, The Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Fund for Exhibitions, Lyn M. Ross, Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund, The Laura and William C. Buck Endowment for Exhibitions, Leslie Miller and Richard Worley, and two anonymous donors.

Modern Times, Florine Stettheimer, Spring Sale at Bendel'sModern Times, Dox Thrash, DemolitionDemolition, c. 1944, by Dox Thrash, American, 1893 – 1965. Oil on canvas board, 26 x 20 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the Katharine Levin Farrell Fund, 2002-97-1.

Exhibition-related education programming was generously supported by the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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We are Philadelphia’s art museum. A landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

Modern Times, Lloyd Ullberg, PSFS Building, PhiladelphiaPSFS Building, Philadelphia, c.1932 – 1933, by Lloyd Ullberg, American, 1904-1996. Gelatin silver print, image and sheet:10 x 7 3/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund, 1999-121-3.

Modern Times, Artist-maker unknown, Cocktail Shaker with HandleCocktail Shaker with Handle, c.1930s, Artist/maker unknown, American. Chromium, Bakelite, 12 x 6 3/4 x 4 1/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Martina Schaap Yamin, 2013-28-66a,b.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call 215-763-8100.

Thank you to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the content of this post. Click the images for large pictures.

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Gardens

PICTURE-PERFECT GARDENSSet between two flowing fountains and tree-lined pathways, the James A. Michener Art Museum’s Pfundt Sculpture Garden captures the essence of Bucks County’s rolling terrain. Credit: Photo by B. Krist for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

PHILLY GALLERIES SET THE SCENE FOR PICTURE-PERFECT GARDENS

Art Often Comes With A Side of Floral Beauty In Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA – Throughout the Philadelphia region, art galleries and museums sit amid colorful gardens, quiet woodlands and serene meadows that accentuate the art found in both indoor and outdoor galleries. Here’s a look at some of the region’s museums and attractions that celebrate beauty inside and out:

  • Abington Art Center  This vibrant cultural organization, known for its summer concert series, occupies part of the 27 acres of historic Alverthorpe Manor in Montgomery County. Inside, three galleries show as many as six regional and national art exhibitions annually. Outside, Katasura trees dot a meandering walkway through Sculpture Park, which is open and free to the public 365 days a year. 515 Meetinghouse Road, Jenkintown(215) 887-4882abingtonartcenter.org
  • The Barnes Arboretum & Foundation In suburban Merion, the Barnes Foundation’s 12-acre arboretum is astonishingly diverse for its size, with more than 2,500 varieties of woody and herbaceous plants, many rare. The arboretum opens to visitors May to September. The Barnes Foundation on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway honors its horticultural legacy with landscaped lawns, trees, park, fountain, contemplative walkways and outdoor seating on its 4.5-acre site. That location’s Garden Restaurant also features outdoor courtyard dining, while internal gardens throughout the building encourage visitors to imagine they are strolling directly into the landscapes they’re admiring on the walls. Arboretum, 300 N. Latch’s Lane, Merion, (215) 278-7200; Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway(215) 278-7200barnesfoundation.org  
  • Brandywine River Museum of Art  It takes just one glimpse of the Virginia bluebells, Cardinal flowers and holly and bayberry bushes that border this onetime gristmill to understand why this landscape has served as muse for so many local artists. The Brandywine River Museum is internationally known for its unparalleled collection of works by three generations of Wyeths and its fine collection of American art. Outside, visitors can join guided walks through the wildflower and native plant gardens, which were dedicated by Lady Bird Johnson and, during the annual plant sale on Mother’s Day weekend, can take home seeds cultivated right on the grounds, as well as lovely in-bloom plants. 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford(610) 388-2700brandywinemuseum.org  
  • James A. Michener Art Museum This Bucks County destination is home to the Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion, a 2,700-square-foot indoor-outdoor space designed by architecture firm KieranTimberlake. The pavilion showcases museum programs—jazz nights, lectures, lively family events—within an elegant, all-glass structure that extends into the Patricia Pfundt Sculpture Garden. Inside, the museum’s eight galleries accommodate special exhibitions and a 3,000-piece permanent collection, including many Pennsylvania impressionist paintings that capture the essence of the county’s rolling terrain. 138 S. Pine Street(215) 340-9800, Doylestown, michenerartmuseum.org  
  • Penn Museum – After viewing the impressive collection of international art and artifacts inside this historic University of Pennsylvania museum, visitors can relax in two magnificent gardens. The Warden Garden, now wheelchair accessible, features a classic koi pool, expansive lawns and mosaics created by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Stoner Courtyard, built on the philosophy that places for nature are necessary in our built-up world, includes sculptural pieces by A.S. Calder, a cobblestone walkway and a beautiful marble fountain. Inside, guests marvel at ancient objects including African and Native American masks, Maya sculpture and Egyptian mummies. 3260 South Street(215) 898-4000penn.museum
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art Best known for its international exhibitions and world-renowned collections of more than 240,000 works, the crown jewel of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is more than a museum. It’s also the unofficial gateway to Fairmount Park. The museum’s bi-level sculpture garden, with its combination of terraces, lawns, flora and water features, showcases an ever-changing sculpture collection overlooking Fairmount Park, the Schuylkill River, the four-acre Azalea Garden and the grand, neoclassical Fairmount Water Works. Works on display include large-scale pieces by Claes Oldenburg Ellsworth Kelly and Sol LeWitt. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway(215) 763-8100philamuseum.org
  • Rodin Museum Movie-theater magnate, philanthropist and Rodin collector Jules Mastbaum, known for his eye for elegance, hired architects Paul Cret and Jacques Gréber to create this jewel-box museum. The venue’s intimate settings are perfect for taking in the extensive Rodin collection, one of the greatest single collections of his work outside Paris. Visitors seem to enjoy the front garden’s reflecting pool and tapestry of magnolia trees, shrubs and colorful flowers—some dating back to the 1920s—as much as they do The Thinker and Eternal Springtime. 2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway(215) 763-8100rodinmuseum.org  
  • Second Bank of the United States – Inside this Parthenon-like structure is a first-rate collection of approximately 200 historic portraits of Founding Fathers, early leaders, explorers and others, many by Charles Willson Peale. Just steps away are several gardens. The Signers’ Garden, with native plants and trees, commemorates the creators of Declaration of the Independence. The 18th-Century Garden replicates formal English gardens of the day with geometrically patterned raised flowerbeds, walking paths, and a pergola. The Rose Garden and Magnolia Garden are secluded, colorful and fragrant refuges. Second Bank, 420 Chestnut Street; Signers’, 5th & Chestnut Streets; 18th-Century, Walnut Street between 3rd & 4th Streets; Rose and Magnolia, Locust Street between 4th & 5th Streets; (215) 965-2305nps.gov/inde  
  • Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library Textiles, paintings, prints, furniture and ceramics dating from 1640 to 1860 make the former home of Henry Francis du Pont a favorite for fans of Americana. Nature enthusiasts are drawn to the 60-acre garden nestled in the 1,000-acre country estate. Highlights of the garden include eight acres of azaleas, naturalized bulbs displays, peonies and primroses. Trails lead from the garden through rolling meadow, woodlands and waterways. If the kids get antsy, a short trip across the Troll Bridge leads to the Faerie Cottage in the Enchanted Woods. 5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, Delaware(800) 448-3883winterthur.org
  • Woodmere Art Museum – At the top of the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia, this gem of a venue tells stories of Philadelphia’s art and artists, including N.C. Wyeth, Benjamin West and Violet Oakley, as well as new and emerging contemporary artists. The 19th-century stone Victorian mansion sits on six acres dotted with sculptures by Dina Wind and other Philadelphia-area artists surrounding Harry Bertoia’s sinuous fountain sculpture, Free Interpretation of Plant Forms9201 Germantown Avenue(215) 247-0476woodmereartmuseum.org

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Home

Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtBook Number 141, May 1989, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Snake format artist’s book of gelatin silver prints with colored ink washes, watercolor, and machine stitching. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with funds contributed by Richard L. and Ronay Menschel, Marion Miller, The Paul & Emily Singer Family Foundation, Peter C. Bunnell, and Trevor Drake and Anne Albright, and with the Lynne and Harold Honickman Fund for Photography, 2015-51-1. © Keith Smith.

Keith Smith at Home

February – July 8, 2018

This winter, the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents Keith Smith at Home, the first major monographic presentation of the artist’s work in five decades. Spanning his entire career, the exhibition brings together over 60 exceptional and varied examples of his handmade artist’s books and experimental photographs, prints, collages, and fabric pieces made over the last half century. The exhibition places special emphasis on his artist’s books, the work for which he is best known. Many of these works are from the artist’s collection and have not been exhibited publicly before.

Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtMargaret Gave me a Rainbow, 2:30pm 21 November, 1971, 1971, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Collage of 3-M Color-in-Color photocopy transferred to buff-colored manila paper, gold star, multicolored thread, gelatin silver print, and rayon braid and tassels, hand and machine stitched to green plain weave cotton with gold rayon faille backing. Courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York. © Keith Smith.

Smith is an especially private person, and one whose life at home has been the inspiration for much of his art. Central to the installation is Book Number 82, Keith Smith at Home (1982), showing a sequence of views of his residence in Rochester, New York, where he has lived since 1975. Page by page, it conveys the passage of time: views of the same room shift, household objects trade places, and friends appear and reappear in framed artwork on the house’s walls. Visitors will be able to page through this book digitally on an iPad in the gallery.

Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtMe at My Shed ‑ About to Go after the Mail, 1973, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Gelatin silver print with colored ink washes, machine stitched to secondary support. Courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York. © Keith Smith.

The exhibition highlights books that challenge perceptions of what a book can be. Book Number 11, Up (1969) explores the interplay of images by alternating film-positive transparencies with opaque pages. As the film-positive page is turned, it creates the appearance of an image moving from one side of the page to the next. Book Number 91: a string book (1982) consists of cord, punched holes, and blank pages. Strings are extended across each page and spread in different patterns, sometimes taut and other times slack, creating an abstract and rhythmic narrative. Smith considers his string book to be photographic, as it deals with light, shadow, focus, motif, and sequence.

Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtBook Number 11, Up, 1969, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Artist’s book with photographs, drawings, prints, and transparencies. Courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York. © Keith Smith.

Smith has referred to his work as an open diary. Self-representation is a key motif, whether appearing lighthearted or uneasy. Some self-portraits reflect the struggles and joys the artist has experienced in coming out as a gay man, as in Untitled, from Roadside Attractions (1979), a multilayered photograph in which two silhouetted male figures caress each other’s shoulders.

Smith has said, “Social intimidation is not as odious as repression that is self-inflicted. When I permitted my work to speak openly, I gained my freedom and my self-respect.”

Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtSelf Portrait, November 1969, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. 3-M Color-in Color-photocopy, hand stitching, and pen and red ink. Courtesy of Keith Smith. © Keith Smith.

Also on view is a selection of handmade postcards, a format that Smith has experimented with since the 1960s. He made these cards with particular recipients in mind, but, feeling unable to part with them, has kept them. In addition, the exhibition features fabric pieces from the 1960s and 1970s. Among these is Margaret Gave me a Rainbow 2:30pm 21, November 1971, a collage of a photograph of an ear, curtain tassels, and an impression of the artist’s profile made on a color photocopier affixed to an army-issue bedsheet. Smith made Eye Quilt (1965), a full-size quilt screenprinted with a dense pattern of eyes, while a student at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Keith Smith: Word Play is a related installation on view in the Museum’s Library. This intimate display highlights the ways in which Smith uses word play, poetry, typography, and sequencing to create surprising relationships between images and text in his books.

Exhibition organizer Amanda N. Bock, The Lynne and Harold Honickman Assistant Curator of Photographs, said: “While Smith may seem shy personally, his art is candid, intimate, delightfully irreverent, and transgressive. To share a large body of his work with the public is an exciting and rare opportunity, and it underscores our commitment to showing provocative work by living artists.”

Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtAatis with his arm on his hip, August 30, 1973, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Postcard: pen and ink, graphite, and colored ink washes on gelatin silver print, machine stitched to secondary support. Courtesy of Keith Smith. © Keith Smith.

About Keith Smith (born 1938, Indiana)

Smith’s reluctance to categorize his work established him as a rogue member of both the photography and printmaking departments at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he graduated in 1967. His works are often radical departures from conventional books, and may unfold, light up, hang on the wall or in a corner, or be constructed of pencils or the shirt off the artist’s own back. Certain themes-friendship, love, desire, intimacy, and domesticity- recur. He has made over 300 artist’s books and over half a dozen seminal instructional manuals on bookbinding.

Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtPeeled, August 30, 1973, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Postcard: graphite and colored ink washes on gelatin silver print, machine stitched to secondary support. Courtesy of Keith Smith. © Keith Smith.

Smith’s work is represented in leading public and private collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; the Nelson-Atkins Museum; the George Eastman Museum, Rochester; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He is the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships (1972 and 1980) and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1978), and has taught at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester.

Keith Smith at Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtBook Number 91, a string book, 1982, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Artist’s book with cut outs, punched holes, and string. Courtesy of Keith Smith and Philip Zimmermann.

Public Programs

Representing Queerness
Sunday, March 4 | 2:30 p.m. | Perelman Building
Community Conversations open discussions about socially relevant topics.
Included in Pay What You Wish admission.

Bookmaking Workshops
Saturdays, March 17, April 21, and May 5 | 1:30-4:30 p.m. | Perelman Building
Each session includes a tour of Keith Smith at Home with the exhibition curator.
Each workshop: $20 ($16 members); includes Perelman Building admission

Curator
Amanda N. Bock, The Lynne and Harold Honickman Assistant Curator of Photographs

Exhibition Location
Julian Levy Gallery, Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building
Installation Location, Library, Second Floor, Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building

Support
Support for this exhibition was provided by The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

Social Media
Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Tumblr/YouTube: @philamuseum

We are Philadelphia’s art museum. A landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors-through scholarly study and creative play-to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world-and themselves-anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street.

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Book 91- String Book; by Keith Smith (1984)

Now

Old Masters Now, PMAPortrait of a Young Gentleman, 1474. Antonello da Messina (Antonello di Giovanni di Michele de Antonio), Italian. Oil on panel, 12 5/8 x 10 11/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Old Masters Now: Celebrating the Johnson Collection

November 3, 2017 – February 19, 2018

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)

The Philadelphia Museum of Art presents Old Masters Now: Celebrating the Johnson Collection, 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 (1841–1917)—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 the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The exhibition includes 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 also provides a behind-the-scenes look at the collaborative work of the Museum’s curators and conservators who have studied the collection since it was entrusted to the Museum’s care in the early 1930s. The exhibition explores a host of fascinating questions ranging from attribution to authenticity and illuminates 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.

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

Timothy Rub, The Museum’s George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Over time our appreciation of Johnson’s extraordinary gift continues to grow, and 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.”

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

The exhibition opens 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 traces 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 Supreme Court, and another from President McKinley to serve as his 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 contracts to play for other teams. This section also explores the decades-long formation of his art collection, from 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 reveal the strikingly idiosyncratic way in which he displayed and lived with his collection. 

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

Eight paintings in the exhibition illustrate some of the fascinating breakthroughs in understanding that have emerged from curators’ and conservators’ work researching and caring for the collection over time. Among them is Rogier van der Weyden’s Crucifixion, with Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist Mourning, from around 1460. This pair of wood panels long puzzled scholars, who were uncertain whether they were created as part of an altarpiece or as an independent work. A conservator’s close technical study eventually led to the realization that they had served as shutters that closed over what was likely one of the largest altarpieces made during the Renaissance in northern Europe; its existence is known only through the Johnson Collection paintings and two others discovered in 2012.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Crucifixion, c. 1460. Rogier van der Weyden, Netherlandish (active Tournai and Brussels). Oil on panel, 71 x 36 7/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Descent from the Cross, painted by the Netherlandish artist Joos van Cleve around 1520, has undergone a year-long conservation treatment and is placed on view for the first time in thirty years. Once considered to be simply a copy of a major painting of the same subject created by Rogier van der Weyden eight decades earlier, it remained in storage as a study picture. The painting is now considered to be Joos van Cleve’s homage to this revered masterpiece.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Last Drop (The Gay Cavalier), c. 1639. Judith Leyster, Dutch (active Haarlem and Amsterdam). Oil on canvas, 35 1/16 x 28 15/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Another work that illustrates how historical and technical study may recover an artist’s original meaning is Dutch master Judith Leyster’s painting The Last Drop (The Gay Cavalier). Dating to about 1629, it depicts a scene of two men approaching the end of a night of drinking. In 1979 an art historian discovered an early copy of the painting that included a skeleton—a warning to the revelers that they should change their ways. The Johnson painting showed no skeleton, but a conservator’s examination and microscopic cleaning tests in 1992 determined that it once had been painted over and it remained beautifully intact. Removal of the overpainting, documented in a series of photographs, revealed the true message of Leyster’s painting.

Old Masters Now, PMAPortrait of Archbishop Filippo Archinto, 1558. Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Italian (active Venice). 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. Post-conservation image, 2017.

Titian’s enigmatic Portrait of Archbishop Filippo Archinto of 1558 has been newly cleaned and restored following years of study and conservation treatment. It is presented alongside a display illustrating how the artist’s original materials have changed with age. Recent analysis by Museum conservators and scientists revealed that Titian painted Archinto with a purple cloak, a color identified with archbishops. The blue pigment that contributed to the purple hue deteriorated over time, making the cloak appear red today. This discovery adds insight into how Titian’s contemporaries would have seen this masterful portrait.

Old Masters Now, PMASaint Nicholas of Tolentino Saving a Shipwreck, 1457. Giovanni di Paolo (Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia), Italian (active Siena). Tempera and gold on panel with vertical grain, 20 1/2 x 16 5/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Attribution is examined in the section devoted to the Dutch master Hieronymus Bosch. Johnson was among the earliest Americans to collect Bosch, and today the Museum is among only a handful in the United States that possess a work by this great painter. Although Johnson purchased 10 works that he understood to be by the artist, close comparative looking and technical research—most notably through the use of dendrochronology (dating growth rings in wood)—has led to the conclusion that only one can be considered authentic today.

Mark Tucker, The Neubauer Family Director of Conservation, said, “The work that goes on in conservation is at the very heart of the Museum’s commitment to expanding the understanding of the art in its care. We are looking forward to sharing with visitors not just the results of that work, but also the processes of investigation and the excitement of discovery.”

Old Masters Now, PMAHead 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.

The exhibition also explores those areas of European painting in which Johnson focused in depth, including Italian, Dutch and Netherlandish, and French art. The number of Dutch paintings he acquired was among the largest of his day, and is especially rich in landscapes by Jacob van Ruisdael and animated genre scenes by Jan Steen. Rembrandt’s Head of Christ is also on view in this section.

Old Masters Now, PMAChrist and the Virgin, c. 1430‑1435. Robert Campin, also called the Master of Flémalle, Netherlandish (active Tournai). Oil and gold on panel, 11 1/4 x 17 15/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

One section devoted to some of the earliest works in Johnson’s collection explores how art historians and conservators evaluate the original context of works that today exist only as fragments of a larger whole. Here an image of the Sienese artist Duccio’s great altarpiece called the Maestá will be placed beside his workshop’s Angel, showing how it was placed and functioned within the larger composition. Other fragmentary works on view include four small superb paintings by Botticelli and Fra Angelico’s Saint Francis of Assisi.

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

Another section is devoted to Johnson’s fascination with the art of his time. It highlights Édouard Manet’s Battle of the USS “Kearsarge” and the CSS “Alabama”, James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Purple and Rose: The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks, and major paintings by John Constable, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Winslow Homer, Camille Pissarro, and Eduard Charlemont, and a marble by Auguste Rodin.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Descent from the Cross, c. 1518‑1520. Joos van Cleve, Netherlandish (active Antwerp and France). Oil on panel, 45 1/4 x 49 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917. Post-conservation image, 2017.

During the presentation of the exhibition the Johnson curatorial and conservation team will be frequently available in the galleries to give talks and answer questions. Visitors are encouraged to explore the Museum’s European galleries, where other works from the Johnson Collection are installed, including a display of sculptures in gallery 273 and another devoted to embroideries and other textiles.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Adoration of the Magi, Early 16th century. Hieronymus Bosch, Netherlandish (active Hertogenbosch). Oil on panel, 30 1/2 × 22 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917. Post-conservation image, 2015.

Jennifer Thompson, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting and Sculpture and Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection, said, “Our understanding of the Johnson Collection is constantly changing. This exhibition marks the first significant assessment of how our thinking on it has evolved over the years. While the careful study we have given to objects in the collection is rarely presented to the public, we are quite pleased to give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the work we do.” 

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

Digital Publication

On the occasion of the centenary of Johnson’s bequest to the City of Philadelphia, the Museum is producing its first digital publication, The John G. Johnson Collection: A History and Selected Works. The publication includes thematic essays written by the Museum’s curatorial and conservation teams that focus on the history of, scholarship on, and stewardship of the collection. Catalogue entries on seventy objects from the Johnson Collection integrate digitized archival resources, allowing scholars new ways to explore the histories of the artworks. It will be available for free and accessible to researchers and the public alike on February 1, 2018 (ISBN: 978-0-87633-276-4).

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Battle of the U.S.S. “Kearsarge” and the C.S.S. “Alabama”, 1864. Édouard Manet, French. Oil on canvas, 54 1/4 x 50 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

The development of this catalogue is led by Christopher D. M. Atkins, The Agnes and Jack Mulroney Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, and Manager of Curatorial Digital Programs and Initiatives; and Karina Wratschko, Special Projects Librarian. Atkins said, “We are connecting art information with archival information. This is the most groundbreaking aspect of the project as most institutions have treated these materials separately, until now.”

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

The John G. Johnson Curatorial and Conservation Team

Jennifer Thompson, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting and Sculpture and Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection
Christopher D. M. Atkins, The Agnes and Jack Mulroney Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, and Manager of Curatorial Digital Programs and Initiatives
Mark Tucker, The Neubauer Family Director of Conservation
Teresa Lignelli, The Aronson Senior Conservator of Paintings

Carl Brandon Strehlke, Curator Emeritus, John G. Johnson Collection

Joseph J. Rishel, Curator Emeritus, European Painting

Old Masters Now, PMAMarine, 1866. Gustave Courbet, French. Oil on canvas on gypsum board. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

About John Graver Johnson (1841–1917)
Born in the village of Chestnut Hill, now part of Philadelphia, and educated in the city’s public Central High School and then at the University of Pennsylvania, Johnson 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 as well as highly singular ones that have been the source of much scholarly discussion.

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 catalogue of his collection, which at the time included 281 paintings.

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 Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Old Masters Now, PMAPurple and Rose: The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks, 1864. James Abbott McNeill Whistler, American (active England). Oil on canvas, 36 3/4 x 24 1/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

About the John G. Johnson Collection
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, among others, Antonello da Messina, Sandro Botticelli, and Pietro Lorenzetti. To this day, the John G. Johnson Collection is distinguished by its quality, rarity, and diversity in European art.

At the time of his death on April 14, 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.

Old Masters Now, PMAOn the Balcony, 1873. Mary Stevenson Cassatt, American. Oil on canvas, 39 3/4 × 32 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of John G. Johnson for the W. P. Wilstach Collection, 1906.

Support
This exhibition has been made possible by The Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, The Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Kowitz Family Foundation, Friends of Heritage Preservation, Lawrence H. and Julie C. Berger, The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Fund for Special Exhibitions, The Harriet and Ronald Lassin Fund for Special Exhibitions, The Robert Lehman Foundation, James and Susan Pagliaro, Lyn M. Ross, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, and Joan F. Thalheimer.

Support for the accompanying digital publication has been provided by Lois G. and Julian A. Brodsky, Martha Hamilton Morris and I. Wistar Morris III, an anonymous donor, and other generous individuals.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Moorish Chief, 1878. Eduard Charlemont, Austrian. Oil on panel, 59 1/8 x 38 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia’s art museum. We are a landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

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