|Maurice Prendergast - Landscape with Figures 1910-12 oil on linen|
Fans of the Mexican proto-feminist painter Frida Kahlo will be entranced by a traveling show titled Frida Kahlo: through the lens of Nickolas Muray, which centers on pictures of the enigmatic artist taken throughout her 10-year love affair with the Hungarian-born, New York City-based photographer.
Classic Frida (with Magenta Rebozo)
1939 carbon process print
On view through Sept. 11 is a fine, small exhibition of Edward Hopper’s early work titled a window on Edward Hopper, in which the Fenimore has collaborated with the nearby Glimmerglass Festival to reveal the roots of the painter whose work inspired an opera that was mounted there this season.
Though the opera’s performances have ended, the art exhibition stands alone as a valuable investigation into the development of one of America’s foremost painters, and it features some of his really outstanding graphic work that might easily be overlooked if it were in a different context. But here, with just two full-scale oil paintings, and five watercolors to compete with, Hopper’s etchings are a revelation, and his earlier studies are worth the time to examine.
|Edward Hopper - Night Shadows 1921 etching|
And, still, the two paintings (Freight Cars, Gloucester, an almost Cubist industrial composition from 1928 and The Camel’s Hump, a dazzling view of Cape Cod dunes from 1931) are as good as it gets; and the watercolors are simply wonderful. Go to see a window on Edward Hopper with the right expectations, and they will be fulfilled.
Toy 1949 oil on linen
Spanning about six decades of painting, Prendergast to Pollock is a mouthwatering showcase of exquisite work by both famous names and also-rans, organized into loosely tied groups of landscapes, still lifes, figures, and abstracts. Not unlike the current New York, New York! Show at The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls (reviewed here), this show surveys the transition of styles in American art during much of the 20th century from Impressionism to abstraction, and it demonstrates what an auspiciously astute collector Root was.
The highlights of this exhibition are almost endless. The show opens with a Fauvist-colored masterpiece by Maurice Prendergast, but I skipped by it until I was stopped dead in my tracks by three modestly sized Arthur Dove paintings that still shimmer with energy more than 70 years after they were made. A single piece by William Baziotes, small and playful, is mesmerizing, as is a surprisingly small and energetic Mark Rothko from 1947, before he homed in on his mature style of large blocks of color. Nearby is a similarly patchy and transcendent Arshile Gorky.
House and Tree by Arc Light 1916
I do have one quibble with the show: No women are represented in this selection and, though Root collected very few women artists, that is an oversight in 2011. But the installation is a great success, due in part to the careful selection of medium grey, royal blue, and acid green for the background colors on various wall panels. It continues through Sept. 15.
The Fenimore also offers permanent exhibits from its world-class collections of folk art and American Indian art, and has beautiful, accessible grounds on the shore of Otsego Lake – altogether, a destination worth setting aside a good chunk of time to explore.
Rating: Highly Recommended
|Edward Hopper - Freight Cars, Gloucester 1928 oil on canvas|