T. Catesby Jones (American, 1880–1946) combined pride in his venerable and distinguished Virginia ancestry with an ardent conviction that only modern art could communicate the spirit of his age while also giving a sense of "wholeness and connection." Two of the artists whose work he collected and donated to his alma mater, the University of Virginia, are Stanley William Hayter (British, 1901–1988) and Jacques Villon (French, 1875–1963).
Villon and Hayter share a prodigiously elegant mastery of printmaking technique and what might be described as a musical or lyrical sense of the graphic line, which, in their work, seems to vibrate like the strings of an instrument so that linearity seems to sing. But Hayter is a Surrealist whose curvilinear line often evokes dream, myth, and organic life. In his work, we can see form emerge from and merge into process. The engraved line is almost biological. Villon's linearity, on the other hand, tends to be Cubist and rectilinear, making ordinary objects shimmer prismatically. In Villon, geometry becomes poetry. Our environment is deconstructed and constructed as we watch, entranced. Together, these opposite tendencies, linked by the music of pure linearity, suggest two major aspects of modern art, which, as Jones knew, express the turbulence and strange beauty of his time and ours.
From an art historical perspective, the selection of these artists emphasizes two essential modes of modern art—Surrealism and Cubism—to compare and contrast aesthetically and psychologically. At the same time, it demonstrates how two artists, who are in some ways opposites, utilized a consummate purity of line involving mastery of various techniques of printmaking.
This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of Art$, Suzanne Foley Endowment Fund, WTJU 91.1 FM, albemarle Magazine, and Ivy Publications LLC's Charlottesville Welcome Book.