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Syracuse University to present ‘Winslow Homer’s Empire State: Houghton Farm and Beyond’ in Syracuse and New York City in fall 2009; first exhibition to examine crucial turning point in artist’s career
Syracuse University to present ‘Winslow Homer’s Empire State: Houghton Farm and Beyond’ in Syracuse and New York City in fall 2009; first exhibition to examine crucial turning point in artist’s careerApril 20, 2009Jaime Winne Alvarez firstname.lastname@example.org
The Syracuse University Art Galleries in Syracuse and the Louise and Bernard Palitz Gallery at SU’s Joseph I. Lubin House in New York City will jointly present the exhibition “Winslow Homer’s Empire State: Houghton Farm and Beyond” this fall. The exhibition is the first to examine in depth this crucial turning point in the artist’s career, a period when he began to achieve stylistic maturity in his work. Information on the exhibition and related programming is available online at http://suart.syr.edu/homer.
(Above: Girl and Sheep, 1879, pencil and wash drawing Collection Albright-Knox Gallery Buffalo, New York Bequest of Norman E. Boasberg, 1962, 1962.5.3.)
The show runs Aug. 18-Oct. 11 at the SUArt Galleries on the SU campus and Nov. 9-Dec. 6 at the Palitz Gallery, 11 E. 61st St., Manhattan. David Tatham, SU professor emeritus of fine arts and a noted Homer scholar, serves as guest curator. Tatham is author of several landmark books on Homer, including “Winslow Homer in the Adirondacks” (Syracuse University Press, 1996) and “Winslow Homer and the Pictorial Press” (Syracuse University Press, 2003).
“Winslow Homer’s Empire State: Houghton Farm and Beyond” focuses on the period in the American artist’s life when he spent two summers at Houghton Farm in Mountainville, N.Y., a rustic summer residence in the lower Hudson Valley region of New York state owned by his principal patron and friend since childhood, Lawson Valentine. (Left: Shepherdesses Resting, 1879, watercolor and pencil on paper.Courtesy of Gerald Peters Gallery, New York, NY.)
The show brings together a number of Homer’s watercolors, drawings, wood engravings, oil paintings and ceramic tiles of the period from galleries, private collections and museums across the country. The works depict various geographic locations from across New York state, including Houghton Farm, the Adirondacks and Easthampton.
The show at Syracuse’s SUArt Galleries will include 30 works. The show at the Palitz Gallery in New York will include 15 works. Notable institutional lenders to the exhibition include the National Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Arkell Museum (formerly the Canajoharie Library).
Homer’s stays at Houghton Farm had great historical and aesthetic significance for the development of his mature style. Nevertheless, the period remains the only major episode of his career yet to be examined in an in-depth exhibition. “In short, anyone seeking to understand this crucially important phase of Homer’s early maturity faces incomplete, fragmentary and scattered information,” says Tatham. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue will contribute new information to the study of Homer and the field of American art.
Homer’s visits to Houghton Farm produced several dozen watercolors in which he achieved greater unity of figure and landscape than ever before. He used color more intensely, and his designs gained greater vitality. His depictions of children and adolescents in the meadows, fields and gardens of a near-idyllic countryside drew much praise; at the same time, other critics, recognizing the shift occurring in his work, expressed puzzlement. When he returned to the farm the following summer, he painted little and instead produced a number of drawings, small in scale, reprising aspects of the subjects he had painted the previous summer. (Right: On the Fence, 1878, watercolor, gouache, and graphite on wove paper. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 1994.59.22.Image Courtesy of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington.)
“His seemingly straightforward, simply rendered depictions of ordinary things-in pencil, ink and charcoal, sometimes with the wash-are among the most eloquent in feeling of his graphic works,” Tatham says.
“The Winslow Homer exhibition continues the SUArt Galleries’ commitment to advancing scholarship in the field,” says Domenic Iacono, director of the SUArt Galleries and the Palitz Gallery. “Following our success in 2008 with ‘Michelangelo: The Man and the Myth,’ we are excited by the opportunity to present this rarely seen aspect of Homer’s art.”
A symposium, “Winslow Homer in the 1870s: A Time of Crisis in American Culture,” will take place Sept. 25-26 on the SU campus. The event, in association with Syracuse Symposium and sponsored by SU’s Humanities Center with funding from a Mellon Grant, will bring together Homer scholars from across the nation. The two-day event will explore the decade in American history that witnessed the end of Reconstruction, endured a major depression, and saw dramatic changes in art and culture. The first day will be devoted to secondary school students and will feature lectures and activities oriented toward high school curricula. The second day will be directed toward university students, art historians and the general public. The symposium will cultivate further scholarship on the artist and the time period in American and New York state history, in addition to offering another educational opportunity for guests of the SUArt Galleries.
Additional educational programming, in the classroom and for the public, will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition on the SU campus. Programming will be organized in the coming months, to be announced at a later date.
The SUArt Galleries enhances the cultural environment of Syracuse University and the Syracuse area through meaningful educational experiences and encounters with the University’s permanent collection and traveling exhibitions. It is the main campus venue for the visual arts and home of the University’s extensive permanent collection. Accessible though the Shaffer Art Building, the facility hosts a variety of temporary and permanent exhibitions throughout the year.
The Louise and Bernard Palitz Gallery at SU’s Joseph I. Lubin House in New York City is exhibition space overseen by the SUArt Galleries. Opened in 2003, the gallery is made possible through the support of SU alumna Louise Palitz and her husband Bernard. Throughout the year, the gallery presents a variety of notable exhibitions from the University’s collection and private and museum collections. The SUArt Galleries and the Palitz Gallery are members of the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC) at SU.