Posts Tagged ‘Collection Highlights’

Rembrandt Peale, George Washington, 1824, Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 in.

George Washington, 1824. Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860). Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Gift of Dr. Timothy McLaughlin.

Rembrandt Peale is known for his portraits of George Washington, one of which the New Britain Museum of American Art is delighted to have as a new acquisition this Presidents month. Rembrandt Peale is supposedly the last artist for whom Washington sat shortly preceding his death. Born in 1778 in Pennsylvania to the famous painter Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), Rembrandt began drawing at age eight. His father tutored him in art and the natural sciences, and he produced his first self-portrait at age thirteen. Peale’s most talented area and source of financial mainstay was painting portraits that were solid, accurate, and straightforward. By 1795, he painted a portrait of George Washington that honestly spoke to the hero’s humanity. Peale greatly admired and was inspired by the work of Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), who is known for his Vaughan and Athenaeum portraits of the first President. (more…)


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Nude Study, 1938. Lee Krasner (1908-1984). Charcoal on paper, 25 x 18 7/8 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Friends Purchase Fund, 1985.09.

Lee Krasner, a progressive female artist working hard throughout the Great Depression of the 1930s until the mid 1980s, has become known in larger circles as the wife of Jackson Pollock. Both artists worked for the government as part of the Works of Art Project’s (WPA) Federal Art Project (FAP) which was formulated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his four terms as US president, up until World War II. While Pollock may be a household name, Krasner is a celebrated artist in her own right. She was academically trained in drawing, painting, and other media. Yet it was the influence ofHans Hofmann that facilitated her Cubist-style detachments of forms in Nude Study. It was acquired by NBMAA in 1985, a year after her death. (more…)

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Patented Pigs, 2008. Marcus Antonius Jansen (b. 1948). Oil enamel collage on canvas, 48 x 60 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Marcus A. Jansen / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, 2010.16.

If a work of art reflects the time it was created, what are we to make of the NBMAA’s recent acquisition, Patented Pigs by Marcus Jansen?

The painting was inspired by an article that appeared in Greenpeace Magazine titled “Monsanto Files Patent for New Invention: The Pig.” The article addresses this multinational agricultural biotecnology company’s attempt in 2004 to patent two processes designed to control the breeding of pigs with a specific marker gene.
Greenpeace and other opponents claimed Monsanto was trying to patent the breeding of all pigs. The company, on the other hand, said the patents would apply only to pigs bred using a specific process capable of locating genes which increase pig size.


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Mad Meg (detail), 2010. Judith Schaechter (b.1961). Stained Glass Lightbox, 52 x 21 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Paul W. Zimmerman Fund, 2010.66.

There are countless contemporary artists who have appropriated classic materials to create their works of art. In selecting acculturated media, such as stained glass, these artists infuse the resulting artworks with powerful connections to the past. They confront the traditions of society to engage the viewer in a conversation about what art is, where it came from, and where it is going. The New Britain Museum of American Art has recently acquired two striking examples of contemporary art that are born out of classic traditions and materials from centuries past. (more…)

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Graydon Parrish at work on The Cycle of Terror and Tragedy in his studio. Ca. 2006.

The complex, turbulent and often ambiguous years that have followed the tragedy of September 11, 2001 begged to be examined, as does the day itself. Because the events that unfolded that day are difficult to analyze, and the repercussions and ramifications are multi-faceted, artist Graydon Parrish has combined many aspects of the catastrophe to create an allegorical painting. This epic artwork was comissioned by the NBMAA following the terrorist attacks in 2001 to commemorate a New Britain native, Scott O’Brien, who died that day. To gain a more complete understanding of this work, it is necessary to consider the symbolism utilized in the placement of the figures, the color, the setting, and the figures themselves. With a complete grasp of the ideas behind the art, observers will be able to take away a powerful insight to accompany the powerful image.


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The Archdukes Albert and Isabella Visiting a Collector’s Cabinet, ca. 1621-1623. Hieronymus Fracken II (1578-1623) and Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625). Oil on panel. 37 x 48 9/16 in. The Walters Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1948, 37.2010

Folk and native arts have inspired a number of art movements and styles throughout history, including Exoticism, Orientalism, Japonisme, Primitivism and Cubism. However, the imitation, display and depiction of such people and their art has often been a contentious topic in the art world. Items ranging from African masks to Shaker furniture were originally created for a purpose—i.e. ritual or practical use—with no intention or desire that they be displayed in a museum. Although museum accession is one of the highest accolades for most Western artists, it can be seen as a great disservice to those outside of this culture. (more…)

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Girl with Red Hair, 1962. Jack LeVine (b. 1925). Oil on canas, 32 x 26 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Davis, 2003.13.

We have, more or less, as an audience become used to the idealized depiction of women. Often, particularly in classical styles, they were portrayed as reclining nudes who were there for the viewer’s pleasure. With averted eyes, they touched themselves sensually, typically innocent and oblivious that there is someone painting her for all to see. When they weren’t sexual-fantasy fodder, they were servile and obedient–particularly in the 1940’s and 1950’s after the end of the strong women era of World War II. They wore their hair in perfect curls, with their perfect dresses and worked merrily away in their perfect kitchens.  In Jack Levine’s Girl with Red Hair  there is a shift away from the perfect, care-free woman that came before. Rather, nudity is embraced as an aspect of the woman’s power rather than the viewer’s object. (more…)

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