Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"Work and Leisure in American Art: Selected Works from the Collection" on view at the Montclair Art Museum

Work and Leisure in American Art comprises over 60 paintings, sculptures, photographs, and works on paper that explore the universal themes of labor and leisure in America from the 18th century to the present day. The works on view range chronologically from Benjamin West’s exposure of political corruption in the painting  

Oliver Cromwell Dissolving the Long Parliament (1782) 

to scenes of industrial and urban labor in the 20th century by Thomas Hart Benton, Stuyvesant Van Veen, and others. Their rural counterparts are seen in the wood engravings of Winslow Homer from the 1870s, as well as the prints of Clare Leighton in the 1930s, the cotton pickers of William Gropper in 1952, and others. In her three prints entitled Executive Tower, West Plaza, 1982, Ida Applebroog features self-absorbed business people, as she explored issues of contemporary urban identity in terms of isolation, alienation, and dehumanization.                     
Images of leisure in the exhibition encompass children at play, with  Eastman Johnson’s Sketch for  In the Hayloft,” c. 1877–78,

 Homer’s See Saw, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1874, 

Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
Seesaw – Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1874
Wood engraving
Sheet: 9 x 14 in. (22.9 x 35.6 cm)
Montclair Art Museum: Gift of Elaine and Julian Hyman, 2002.18.4

and Currier and Ives’ American Homestead-Spring (1869), 

Currier & Ives
Ives, James Merritt, American, 1824-1895
Currier, Nathaniel, American, 1813-1888
American Homestead – Spring, 1869
Hand-colored lithograph
Montclair Art Museum: Gift of George Raimes Beach, 1989.52

and Montclair art colony artist Lawrence Earle’s version of the popular string game Cat in the Cradle (1891). 

Lawrence Earle
Cat In The Cradle
Media: Watercolor
Signed: Lower Left
Size: 25 1/2" x 18"
Collection of the Montclair Art Museum

The theme of sports is represented by various works, including images of horse racing at Saratoga by Winslow Homer, as well as Jon Corbino’s Race Track (1936) and golf in 1932 by Orrin White, based in Pasadena, California.                                                     

The beach and bodies of water as the locus for leisure activities is featured in the 19th-century work of Winslow Homer, as well as the early 20th-century artists Jane Peterson and Hayley Lever, with Justine Kurland providing a contemporary perspective in her photograph  

Frog Swamp (Covington, Louisiana), 2001.                                                                                                                             

Justine Kurland (b. 1969)
Frog Swamp (Covington, Louisiana), 2001
Satin laminated C-print, Ed. 4/6
Montclair Art Museum: Gift of Patricia A. Bell, 2004.17.1
Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash.
Another section of the exhibition is devoted to images of music and dance, ranging from late 19th-century works by Arthur B. Davies and Charles E. Proctor to the era of the 1940s as seen in Hilde Kayn’s  Swingtime (1945) and Weegee’s photograph Calypso (At a Club in Harlem) (ca. 1944).

Irving Couse’s early 20th-century painting Indian Courtship featuring a flute-playing Native American also relates to the themes of friendship and romance,

as evidenced in other works in the exhibition, including Navajo painter Harrison Begay’s (1917–2012) Old Friends Meeting (n.d.), John Ahearn’s monumental sculpture of a man from the Bronx and his dog, Toby and Raymond (1986), as well as Andy Warhol’s small 1972 photo album of his friends and associates, some of whom starred in his movies.

Photographs of urban life and leisure range from John Sloan’s Bonfire Snow (ca. 1919)

to works by Garry Winogrand and Joel Meyerowitz in the 1960s, to Faith Ringgold’s monumental quilt Tar Beach 2 (1990) and Dawoud Bey’s beer-drinking Smokey, 2001. Their more suburban, domestic counterparts can be found in the works of

Will Barnet (Old Man’s Afternoon, 1947),

Roger Brown’s print of television-watching people, Talk Show Addicts (1993), 

Gregory Crewdson’s Untitled (Pregnant Woman/Pool) (1999), 

Gregory Crewdson (b. 1962)
Untitled, 1999
Laser direct C-print (digital chromogenic Fujicolor Crystal Archive print laminated with an Ultraviolet laminant with luster)
Artist's Proof Edition, Ed. of 10 + 2 AP.
© Gregory Crewdson.
Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

and Rachel Perry Welty’s Lost in My Life (Wrapped Books) (2001).                                              

Rachel Perry Welty (born 1962)
Lost in my Life (wrapped books), 2010
Archival pigment print, Ed. 1/3
Montclair Art Museum: Gift of Patricia A. Bell, 2012.1
© Rachel Perry Welty, Courtesy of the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery


John George Brown (1831-1913)
Music Hath Terms, 1879
Oil on canvas
Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; prior gift of Mrs. Frank L. Babbott, 1992.3

Currier & Ives
Ives, James Merritt, American, 1824-1895
Currier, Nathaniel, American, 1813-1888
American Homestead – Winter, 1868
Hand-colored lithograph
Montclair Art Museum: Gift of George Raimes Beach, 1989.41

Edward Lamson Henry (1841-1919)
Street Scene, 1916
Oil on canvas
Montclair Art Museum: Bequest of Florence O. R. Lang, 1943.42

Alfred Kappes (1850–1894)
In the Kitchen, 1884
Watercolor on paper
Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase, Acquisition Fund

Gary Winogrand (1928-1984)
New York City, New York, 1969
Silver print
Montclair Art Museum: Gift of Richard and Andrea Stewart, 1982.51.1
© The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

George Inness Sketching Outside His Montclair Studio , ca. 1889