Important Old Master Engraving Added to the Permanent Collection
In June, the Friends of the Palmer Museum of Art elected to acquire a spectacular print for the museum at their annual purchase party. The members were offered three intriguing Old Master sheets from which to choose. Two were early sixteenth-century woodcuts by Lucas Cranach and Albrecht Dürer. The third, a very fine engraving by Dürer, dated c. 1496, won the day.
The print depicts St. Jerome, author of the Vulgate, as an ascetic in the barrens of northern Syria, to where he had retired in c. 375 to repent for his transgressions. Kneeling in prayer before a small crucifix—the rock in his hand was used for corporeal mortification—Jerome is accompanied by his principal attribute, a lion, whose healing (curiously occurring, according to the legend, after his years in the wilderness) induced a lifelong companionship. This particular representation of the saint is an Italian tradition, with which Dürer would have become familiar during his first trip to Venice in 1495. The surrounding landscape, on the other hand, is derived from sketches the artist made of the quarries near his hometown of Nuremberg.
iBEACONS at the Palmer
This summer, the museum offers two interpretive opportunities that you may access via your iPhone or iPad. Simply download the Penn State Places app from the Apple app store and enable Bluetooth on your device and the location-award iBeacons will convey information in the form of text, images, and sounds.
Gallery overviews: Hear the social, political, and artistic contexts for each gallery delivered to your device as you walk through each space.
Words of Art presents poetic interpretations of works of art—known as ekphrastic poetry—via iBeacon technology in the galleries. Poet Nicole Miyashiro shares her ekphrastic poems, based on works of art in the collection, with audiences to foster an engaged, multisensory viewing experience.
New Curator Appointed
Adam M. Thomas. Photo by Cody Goddard, 2015.
Adam M. Thomas has been appointed Curator of American Art at the Palmer Museum of Art. A specialist in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American art, he previously held positions at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
As guest curator at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens from June 2014 through July 2015, he organized a forthcoming exhibition devoted to depictions of hunting and fishing in American painting. He formerly served as the Weisenberger Fellow in American Art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where he curated the exhibition Venetian Views: American Works on Paper.
Thomas holds both master’s and doctoral degrees in art history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, completing a dissertation titled “The Spectral Imagination: American Art between Science and Superstition in the Late Nineteenth Century.” In 2012–13, he was the Douglass Foundation Predoctoral Fellow in American Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. His research has been supported by the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and he has been involved with a wide range of exhibitions on the East Coast, notably at the National Gallery of Art and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Hispanic Society of America in New York. Thomas earned his bachelor’s degree in art history and English at New York University.
We are delighted to have Adam on the staff and look forward to his work on our extensive American art collection.
Important Old Master Engraving Added to the Permanent Collection
Honoré Daumier, Eh! bien en regardant ce tableau de près on finit par y dècouvrir des qualités, on voit que la couleur est bonne, 1865, lithograph (detail). Gift of the Walton J. Lord Estate, 86.730.
The Palmer Museum of Art is pleased to report that its collections can now be searched online. Over the last couple of years, the museum has worked closely with the Visual Resources Centre in the Department of Art History and Publishing and Curation Services in the University Libraries to transfer the information in its collections database to a management software that could more comfortably interface with the internet. The effort resulted in a new site, activated during the fall 2015 semester, which resides in the University Libraries Digital Collections and can be accessed from the museum’s website. Visit us at http://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/digital/palmer.html.
Esphyr Slobodkina, Monochrome in Gray, c. 1942, oil on Masonite. Purchased with funds provided by the Friends of the Palmer Museum of Art, 2015.30. © The Slobodkina Foundation.
The Friends of the Palmer Museum of Art held their annual purchase party in June and selected a painting by Esphyr Slobodkina to add to the museum’s notable collection of American art. The purchase party remains one of the most well attended—and arguably most entertaining—members-only events of the year, and the recent gathering proved no exception. The standing-room-only crowd was greeted with a bit of a twist this year. All of the pieces brought in for consideration were abstract paintings created in the mid-1930s or early 1940s by artists associated with the American Abstract Artists (AAA) group.
Founded in New York City in the fall of 1936, the AAA organization was established to help provide a forum for promoting, discussing, and exhibiting abstract art at a time when American artists and audiences alike were focusing attention on figurative painting and the American Scene. Widely perceived as Eurocentric and, therefore, alien to the American spirit, abstraction nonetheless proved to be a fertile arena for exploration for many modern American artists. Monochrome in Gray, a large oil on Masonite panel from circa 1942, reveals Slobodkina’s experimentation with the collage-like forms and shallow pictorial space of synthetic cubism. Like other works associated with the AAA group, it helps flesh out the trajectory of twentieth-century American abstraction, bridging the gap between earlier modernist artists of the Stieglitz circle and the post-war Abstract Expressionists, who followed in their wake.
Purchase party attendees, along with the museum’s curatorial staff, were also taken by an early canvas by another American abstract painter, Ilya Bolotowsky, who, not incidentally, was married to Slobodkina for a time in the mid-1930s. Painted around 1935, Quiet and Active Shapes reveals Bolotowsky’s efforts to merge the biomorphic surrealism of Joan Miró and the geometric abstraction of Piet Mondrian, two important, and apparently not irreconcilable, stylistic modes that dominated twentieth-century abstraction for many decades. Thanks to the Terra Art Enrichment Fund, the Palmer was able to acquire this remarkable work as well. The acquisition of these important paintings by two of the founding members of the American Abstract Artists group significantly helps address a lacuna in the permanent collection and will enable the museum to present more comprehensively the narrative of American abstraction.