First Major William Glackens Exhibition in Decades to Open in Florida

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  • February 20, 2014

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William Glackens, Cape Cod Pier, 1908, oil on canvas, 26 in. x 32 in. NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, Gift of anonymous donor.

NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale will open this weekend "William Glackens," the first comprehensive exhibition since 1966 of this key American artist. "William Glackens" is organized and presented in collaboration with the Parrish Art Museum and the Barnes Foundation, where the exhibition will also travel. The show spans the artist’s career, with works from the mid-1890s to the late 1930s. Glackens’s oeuvre will be examined through more than 85 of the most important paintings and works on paper from some of America's finest private and public collections, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. Several works will be on view to the public for the first time since 1966. This long-overdue survey will introduce the artist to a new generation of viewers and aims to further scholarship on this pivotal figure in the history of American art.
Curated by noted independent writer and art historian Avis Berman, the exhibition focuses on Glackens’s most distinctive and adventurous works to present the full breadth of his oeuvre. “Glackens combined an enchanting zest for life with an arsenal of sophisticated techniques. Yet, with no comprehensive survey of his work in nearly fifty years, a thorough reassessment of this key figure in American art is long overdue. This exhibition takes a much-needed look at the artist’s estimable career and reveals him as a modern artist of ambition and spirit,” Berman states about the artist and the exhibition.
Such touchstones of American art as Hammerstein’s Roof Garden (ca. 1901), Girl with Apple (1909-1910), Family Group (1910-1911), and The Green Car (1910) will be presented alongside other key pieces from each decade of his career, including La Villette (ca.1895), Cape Cod Pier (1908), and The Soda Fountain (1935). These important paintings represent Glackens’s matchless ability to capture people and their surroundings with spontaneity and spirit.
This exhibition explores the wide range of motifs that run throughout Glackens’s work. In addition to a fascination for the urban spectacle of New York City, a love for travel led him to sunny landscapes and shorelines. A gifted painter and draftsman, he also successfully mastered portraits, figure studies and still lifes, all genres that will be presented in the exhibition.
Born in Philadelphia in 1870, Glackens studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. At the Academy and as an artist for the Philadelphia Press, he became friends with fellow artists Robert Henri, George Luks, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan, the core of the group that would later form The Eight as a reaction against the National Academy of Design’s hidebound exhibition policies. The Eight exhibited together only once, in 1908, opening a wedge in the struggle to democratize the process by which artists could show and sell their work.  Glackens was on the selection committee of the 1910 Exhibition of Independent Artists, the first large-scale invitational show of progressive artists, and was chairman of the American section of the epochal Armory Show, which introduced European vanguard art to this country in 1913. With these roles Glackens became a powerful advocate for landmark exhibitions of the American and European avant-garde.
Glackens attended Philadelphia’s prestigious Central High School with Albert C. Barnes, the pharmaceuticals magnate. The artist traveled to Paris on a buying trip for Barnes in 1912 and sent back works by Paul Cézanne, Maurice Denis, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. These purchases became the nucleus of Barnes’s fabled collection. The two men remained close, and Barnes became his loyal and most important patron. Barnes found Glackens indispensable, stating, “The most valuable single educational factor to me has been my frequent association with a life-long friend who combines greatness as an artist with a big man’s mind.”
NSU Museum of Art’s current holdings include more than 500 works that cover the full spectrum of Glackens’s career and represent the largest collection of his work. More than two-dozen paintings, drawings and prints from NSU Museum of Art’s collection will be incorporated in this comprehensive exhibition. The museum is currently undergoing a strategic four-year William Glackens Collection Initiative, a major component of this project is the William Glackens Research Collection and Study Center, slated to open in 2014.  In April 2013, NSU Museum of Art was the recipient of a $40,000 grant from the Art Works program of the National Endowment for the Arts to help fund the Research Collection and Study Center. The grant supplements existing financial support from one of the museum’s longtime partners in excellence, the Sansom Foundation. The educational facility will be the central repository for all current and future Glackens materials owned by the museum, establishing it as a central hub for Glackens scholarship.  Access to the Research Collection and Study Center will be available online to scholars, educators, students, and the general public worldwide.

Exhibition Tour Schedule
NSU Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, Florida     February 23 - June 1, 2014
Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York          July 20 - October 13, 2014
Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  November 8, 2014 - February 2, 2015
Exhibition Catalogue

A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue, edited by Avis Berman and published by Skira Rizzoli, will provide additional context for this major exhibition. Issues previously unexamined in the literature about Glackens and The Eight will be considered throughout the text, including the artist’s sophisticated absorption of contemporaneous French painting, his sense of social observation, his depiction of women, his interest in costume and fashion, his portrayals of urban life, and his role as a tastemaker. The publication also includes the first complete exhibition history on the artist, a critical contribution to Glackens scholarship. The publication also includes the first complete exhibition history on the artist, a critical contribution to Glackens scholarship.

The monograph features contributions by Avis Berman, Elizabeth Thompson Colleary (independent art historian), Heather Campbell Coyle (Curator of American Art, Delaware Art Museum), Judith F. Dolkart (Deputy Director of Art and Archival Collections and Gund Family Chief Curator, The Barnes Foundation), Alicia G. Longwell (The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator, Parrish Art Museum), Martha Lucy (Assistant Professor, Art and Art History, Drexel University), Patricia Mears (Deputy Director, The Museum at FIT), Carol Troyen (Kristin and Roger Servison Curator Emerita of American Paintings, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) and Emily C. Wood (Curatorial Assistant, Whitney Western Art Museum).

288 pages / 9 5/8” x 13” / 200 color and b&w photographs / Hardcover $55.00 U.S. /Skira Rizzoli / ISBN: 978-0-8478-4261-2 / February 2014
William Glackens is presented by the Sansom Foundation.

Additional support provided by the Henry Luce Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Vontobel Swiss Wealth Advisors, Christie’s and Funding Arts Broward.


Tags: American art

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