Montclair Art Museum Centennial: 10 Works For 10 Decades

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Montclair Art Museum Centennial: 10 Works For 10 DecadesTen, just 10. That’s how many works of art we asked Gail Stavitsky, chief curator of the Montclair Art Museum, to select from the ongoing exhibit “100 Works for 100 Years: A Centennial Celebration.”

Like picking the defining moments of an epoch, Stavitsky highlighted one work from each decade to mark the museum’s 100th anniversary, a celebration continuing all year at MAM. Decades indicate the year each artwork was acquired by the museum, not the year it was created.

“I was trying to come up with representative works from each decade, works that are really iconic in the museum’s collection,” says Stavitsky, who’s been MAM’s chief curator for 20 years.

Here are the 10 works she selected, with commentary, all of which are on display at the museum:

1910s

William Couper (1853-1942)  Crown for the Victor, 1896  marble  Montclair Art Museum: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Lang  1913.7

William Couper (1853-1942), Crown for the Victor, 1896
marble
Montclair Art Museum: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Lang
1913.7


“Crown for the Victor,” 1896
By William Crouper
Acquired by the museum 1913

“This was already in the museum’s collection when the museum opened on Jan. 15, 1914. William Crouper was one of the founding trustees of the museum and this is his masterpiece of neo-classical sculpture. It’s a destination piece for people who know about American art and sculpture. And even for people who don’t, it’s just such a beautiful white marble sculpture. It depicts a woman making a wreath for the victor of the Olympics, so it refers to classic Greek history.”

1920s

  Robert Henri (1865-1929)  Jimmie O'D, ca.1925  Oil on canvas  Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; Picture Buying Fund  1926.1


Robert Henri (1865-1929)
Jimmie O’D, ca.1925
Oil on canvas
Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; Picture Buying Fund
1926.1


“Jimmie O’D,” ca. 1925
By Robert Henri
Acquired 1926

“This was a painting that members of the museum bought from a contemporary American painting show, so it’s a really important early acquisition of the museum. Henri created this work during a visit to Ireland. One of many portraits of Irish children he painted, ‘Jimmie O’D’ reflects his lively and sympathetic reaction to his sitters.”

1930s

Edward Hopper (1882-1967)  Coast Guard Station, 1929  Oil on canvas  Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; Picture Buying Fund  1937.21

Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Coast Guard Station, 1929
Oil on canvas
Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; Picture Buying Fund
1937.21


“Coast Guard Station,” 1929
By Edward Hopper
Acquired 1937

“Certainly the Edward Hopper would be on any list like this. The ‘Coast Guard Station’ is one of his greatest paintings done in Maine. It was bought in 1937 in the middle of the Depression, and it’s interesting that even during the Depression the museum members still had this picture-buying fund that they contributed to. And luckily they bought what is one of the great, great paintings in the museum’s collection.”

1940s

Asher Brown Durand (1796-1886)  Early Morning at Cold Spring, 1850  Oil on canvas  Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; Lang Acquisition Fund  1945.8

Asher Brown Durand (1796-1886)
Early Morning at Cold Spring, 1850
Oil on canvas
Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; Lang Acquisition Fund
1945.8


“Early Morning at Cold Spring,” 1850
By Asher B. Durand
Acquired 1945

“This is another big highlight of the collection. It’s really the painting that launched the museum’s collection of 19th century art. It depicts a view from the Hudson River and was inspired by a William Cullen Bryant poem that includes the lines: ‘And o’er the clear still water swells/The music of the Sabbath bells.’ The figure in the foreground ignores the church bell summoning worshipers to church. Framed by arching trees suggesting a natural cathedral, he finds God in Nature.”

1950s

Thomas Eakins (1844-1916)  Charles Haseltine; The Connoisseur, ca.1901  Oil on canvas  Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; Lang Acquisition Fund  1952.130

Thomas Eakins (1844-1916)
Charles Haseltine; The Connoisseur, ca.1901
Oil on canvas
Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; Lang Acquisition Fund
1952.130


“Charles Haseltine,” ca. 1901
By Thomas Eakins
Acquired 1952

“Through the acquisition fund we bought this major painting by Thomas Eakins, which was a portrait of his childhood friend and art dealer Charles Haseltine. It’s one of the great realist portraits in our collection, an unidealized portrayal of the self-made professional in which Eakins directly observed and emphasized the sitter’s character without flattering his appearance.”

1960s

“Queensborough Bridge,” 1927
By Elsie Driggs
Acquired 1969

Elsie Driggs (1898-1992)  Queensborough Bridge, 1927  Oil on canvas  Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; Lang Acquisition Fund  1969.4

Elsie Driggs (1898-1992)
Queensborough Bridge, 1927
Oil on canvas
Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; Lang Acquisition Fund
1969.4


“Elsie Driggs was part of an important group of artists known as the Precisionists. At a time when the American urban industrial landscape was really burgeoning and skyscrapers and factories were springing up everywhere, she did this great painting of the Queensborough Bridge that really captures the precise, pristine forms of industry.”

1970s

Romare Howard Bearden (1911-1988)  Late Afternoon, 1971  collage and mixed media on board  Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; funds provided by The William Lightfoot Schultz Foundation  1979.6  Art © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Romare Howard Bearden (1911-1988)
Late Afternoon, 1971
collage and mixed media on board
Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; funds provided by The William Lightfoot Schultz Foundation
1979.6
Art © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


“Late Afternoon,” 1971
By Romare Howard Bearden
Acquired 1979

“In the 1970s this wonderful collage by Romare Bearden was bought. What we find in the ‘70s, ‘80s and onward is special attention to cultural diversity. Our collection of African-American art really starts in the ‘70s with this purchase, and now we have quite a significant collection. Bearden’s love of jazz inspired his improvisational method of composing collages from fragments of photographs and magazine clippings.”

1980s

Mark Rothko (1903-1970)  Implements of Magic, ca.1945  Watercolor on paper  Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; partial gift of Charles and Jeannette Gehrie and Acquisition Fund  1986.139  © 2005 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Mark Rothko (1903-1970)
Implements of Magic, ca.1945
Watercolor on paper
Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; partial gift of Charles and Jeannette Gehrie and Acquisition Fund
1986.139
© 2005 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


By Mark Rothko
Acquired 1986

“This abstract expressionist watercolor from 1945 was bought in the ‘80s at a moment when we were really trying to get more and more modern in our purchases. We were trying to catch up in the 20th century. Executed in earth tones, the painting is divided into three horizontal bands. A series of figures and objects suggestive of Native American and African culture advances across these bands.”

1990s

Andy Warhol (1928-1987)  Twelve Cadillacs, 1962  Silkscreen ink on canvas  Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; prior bequest of James Turner and Acquisition Fund  1998.9  © 2013 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Twelve Cadillacs, 1962
Silkscreen ink on canvas
Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; prior bequest of James Turner and Acquisition Fund
1998.9
© 2013 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


“Twelve Cadillacs,” 1962
By Andy Warhol
Acquired 1998

“This Andy Warhol was considered a fairly daring purchase even in the 1990s and even though it’s a pop art painting. It wasn’t that well known, but we then built an entire show around it in 2011, ‘Warhol and Cars: American Icons.’ One of his earliest silk-screen paintings, ‘Twelve Cadillacs’ reflects the repetition and grid organization of imagery that became a central aspect of his work, possessing overtones of assembly-line mass production, uniformity, and commerce.”

2000s

Barbara Kruger (b. 1945)  Untitled (Seeing Through You), 2004-05  Color photograph  Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; Acquisition Fund  2006.11  ©Barbara Kruger  Image Courtesy of Mary Boone Gallery, New York.

Barbara Kruger (b. 1945)
Untitled (Seeing Through You), 2004-05
Color photograph
Montclair Art Museum: Museum purchase; Acquisition Fund
2006.11
©Barbara Kruger
Image Courtesy of Mary Boone Gallery, New York.


“Seeing Through You,” 2004-5
By Barbara Kruger
Acquired 2006

“Barbara Kruger is a really important contemporary artist who’s originally from New Jersey. She was a graphic designer, so a lot of her work uses the vocabulary of advertising and graphic design to work with mass media and mass communication and the kind of stereotypes that come along in advertising. This work questions the ideas of are you seeing through stereotypes and what exactly are we seeing through. So it’s very evocative on a lot of levels, and very colorful and bold.”

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