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Chicago Sun-Times

Arts Preview: Émilie Charmy

Feb 25, 2014

In art, the “new” is usually the work of a young gun just beginning to establish a reputation. But occasionally, the past still offers up an artist whose imagery hasn’t been emblazoned on items in the museum gift shop, or been maxed out by Madison Avenue. Take Émilie Charmy. Born in 1878 and active into her 90s, this French painter did not invent a new vocabulary or deploy color in a strikingly unusual manner. The old standards — still life, portraits, landscape and genre scenes — were her stock-in-trade. Yet she exercised the true artist’s prerogative: to paint what she wanted the way she wanted. From Feb. 27 through May 17, the Arts Club of Chicago presents the first U.S. retrospective of her work.

Initially curated by Matthew Affron for the University of Virginia’s Fralin Museum of Art, the exhibition enables one not only to experience the individual sophistication of Charmy’s visual strategies, but also to reconsider the status of the female painter in the early 20th century. “She belonged to a generation of women who reformulated notions of gender and art at the same time,” says Affron, now a curator of modern art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “And the study of an artist who is not well-known is as interesting for what we learn about the conditions of art-making, the nature of the art market and evolving interests in the art world — not least for women artists — as it is fascinating in terms of rediscovering the paintings themselves.”

The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia will host Yui Suzuki for an Ellen Bayard Weedon Lecture in the Arts of Asia on Feb. 27. Her lecture, “Twanging Bows and Throwing Rice: Warding Off Evil in Medieval Japanese Birth Scenes,” will be held at 6 p.m. in Campbell Hall, room 153. Although a transformational life experience, childbirth has not received much focused attention in art history. In medieval Japan, birthing scenes were often inserted into medieval picture scrolls (called “emaki”) to evoke the larger Buddhist notion of suffering. Despite the long-established practice of medicine in Japan, childbirth pictures reveal that the upper echelons of society relied heavily on multifarious networks of ritual specialists and their magico-religious rites. In her talk, Suzuki will examine images of the diverse performances by religious professionals and the reasons why such elaborate measures were taken to ensure the safety of mother and child.

Families are invited to an afternoon of fun and hands-on creativity as The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia continues its monthly children’s program, the Family Art JAM. On Feb. 15 and 16, the museum will offer four sessions of “Letters and Numbers: Printmaking Inspired by Jasper Johns” for children ages 5 to 12. Family Art JAMs combine age-appropriate tours with hands-on art projects planned to make the museum's exhibitions accessible to young children.

The Fralin Museum's Curator for Contemporary Art Jennnifer Farrell speaks with 91.1 WTJU Soundboard Producer Julia Kudravetz about the early prints of Jasper Johns on display.

Listen to the interview

I know it’s probably been a while since you memorized vocabulary for the SATs, but here’s a word too fun to ignore: tronie. Neither a troll mixed with a pony nor a misspelled version of “phony,” “tronie” is 17th century Dutch for “face,” also referring to a style of artwork which focuses on people’s faces and emotions. Intrigued? You’re in luck — the Fralin Museum of Art is displaying a collection of 17th century Dutch tronies from now until August.

The UVa. Fralin Museum of Art announces the winners of Writers Eye 2013. The Writer’s Eye program challenges writers of all ages to use visual art as inspiration for the creation of original poetry and prose. Entrants submitted original writings inspired by one of 18 pieces selected for the competition from the museum’s permanent collection and visiting exhibitions. After conducting tours for more than 3,600 students and adults, the museum received more than 1,500 entries to the competition from writers in the Charlottesville and University communities.

Print is everywhere — it spells out the Bodo’s menu board, constitutes the reading assignments spat out by HP Deskjets everywhere and fills the pages of The Cavalier Daily print editions appearing in distribution boxes every Monday and Thursday. Few people give the process of printmaking much attention because of its ubiquity. Few people, that is, besides Jasper Johns. Johns, born in Georgia and raised in South Carolina, began exploring his interest in symbols, images and icons after settling in New York in the 1950s. Expressing himself primarily through lithography and painting, Johns played an integral role in the Neo-Dada and Pop Art movements of the late 20th century.

The UVa. Fralin Museum of Art announces the winners of Writers Eye 2013. The Writer’s Eye program challenges writers of all ages to use visual art as inspiration for the creation of original poetry and prose. Contestants submitted original writings inspired by one of 18 pieces selected for the competition from the museum’s permanent collection and visiting exhibitions. After conducting tours for more 3,600 students and adults, the museum received more than 1,500 entries to the competition.

Art during the Dutch Golden Age, which spanned the late 16th and 17th centuries, gave portraiture a place of great prominence.

While young painters in the Netherlands primarily focused on portraiture, there were many other artists, mostly draftsmen and printmakers, whose works could be bought for comparatively lower prices than their painted counterparts.

To trace the blossoming of this drawn portraiture in the Netherlands during the 17th century, The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia presents Portraying the Golden Age, the first of a two-part installation running from Jan. 17 through April 27.

Three newly awarded National Endowment for the Arts grants will help the University of Virginia build its momentum in advancing and supporting the creative arts.

NEA Art Works grants have been given to the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia and a collaborative multimedia project between poet Rita Dove and the McIntire Department of Music.

“When I grab a stick, I get a bunch of good ideas. I feel alive,” said University of Virginia artist-in-residence Patrick Dougherty in his documentary, “Bending Sticks.”

Dougherty—the guest of The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, the McIntire Department of Art and the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts—spent three weeks working with students and community volunteers installing his “stickwork sculpture” exhibit in front of the Ruth Caplin Theatre on the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds.

The Frick’s Center for the History of Collecting has awarded its Sotheby’s Book Prize for a Distinguished Publication on the History of Collecting in America to Get There First, Decide Promptly: The Richard Brown Baker Collection of Postwar Art (Yale University Art Gallery, 2011). The book’s general editor, Jennifer Farrell, shares the prize with essayists Thomas Crow, Serge Guilbaut, Jan Howard, Robert Storr, and Judith Tannenbaum. The Frick’s Director, Ian Wardropper, commented, “Within recent years, the history of collecting art has found acceptance as an academic field, and we are very proud of the role that the Center for the History of Collecting has played in that development. Established at the Frick Art Reference Library six years ago, the center has fostered a high level of discourse through symposia, oral histories, publications, and fellowships. Furthermore, its book prize, generously supported by Sotheby’s, strengthens this area of study by acknowledging—and perhaps inspiring—new publications. We offer congratulations to Jennifer Farrell and her colleagues for this wonderfully researched publication and look forward to presenting the award to her formally at a reception hosted at Sotheby’s in January.”

Piedmont Council for the Arts Blog

Symposium Explores Experiences of African Americans in Soviet Union

Oct 21, 2013

“In the Shadow of Stalin: African American Artists and Intellectuals in Soviet Russia” will examine the diverse experiences of African Americans who both visited and immigrated to the Soviet Union during the first half of the twentieth century.

“In the Shadow of Stalin: The Patterson Family in Painting and Film,” an exhibit at The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia running through Dec. 22, examines a 1932 journey by Langston Hughes and several of his African-American peers to the Soviet Union.

The Daily Progress

Artist Patrick Doughtery Creates Stickworks At UVa

Oct 21, 2013

Students and community members gave a hand to artist Patrick Doughtery and his creation of a Stickworks installation Wednesday on the lawn of the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds at the University of Virginia. The installation involves weaving of tree saplings and sticks into towering nest-like sculptures. The project is expected to be completed October 18th and will remain on grounds for more than a year.

If you’ve been in the vicinity of the Ruth Caplin Theatre and the Arts Commons at UVA, you’ve no doubt noticed some unusual activity in the bowl-shaped area between the buildings. Renowned installation artist Patrick Dougherty, together with a group of community and UVA volunteers, is hard at work weaving a sculpture made from locally harvested twigs and saplings collected by Dougherty, in a collaboration with UVA sculpture professor, Bill Bennett, and his class.

If you drive around the University of Virginia's drama building, you might be surprised by what you see. A sculpture more than 10 feet high is being built out of tree saplings and branches in front of the Ruth Caplin Theatre on the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds.

Born in 1878 in the town of Saint-Étienne near Lyon, France, Émilie Charmy was groomed for the proper profession of teaching. But Charmy, whom I had never heard of before the Fralin show, had other ideas, taking up painting instead. Initially, she focused on traditional scenes of domestic life in an Impressionist style. But, she soon began painting subjects that had been the province of male artists. One of the first paintings in the show, Charmy’s shimmering “The Salon,” c. 1900, features naked prostitutes in a brothel—though you might never know it, given the decorous soft focus with which they’re painted.


Dougherty Stickworks

Sep 26, 2013

Aired on Thursday September 26, 2013, Jennifer Farrell, curator of exhibitions and contemporary art at The Fralin Museum of Art, and Bill Bennett, associate professor of studio art in the McIntire Department of Art, discuss Patrick Doughtery's Stickworks, U.Va.'s site-specific sculpture made of locally harvested twigs and saplings in front of the Ruth Caplin Theatre and the Arts Commons, the latest additions to the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds. Farrell and Bennett also talk about U.Va. and community volunteers helping with the build and an exhibition at The Fralin featuring models and photographs of Dougherty’s earlier projects, as well as preparatory drawings for the installation at U.Va. Soundboard is WTJU 91.1 FM's discussion program about news, culture, and community issues in the Charlottesville area.

Listen to the interview

The Émilie Charmy retrospective currently on display at the Fralin Museum of Art is perplexing.

Most of her paintings have a fierce inquisitive quality. Her application of paint gives expressive life to simple compositions. Single thick brush strokes resolve into a small elegant wrist or a delicate twist of hair. Although a few paintings, like "Nu tentant son sein," seem merely fast and crude, her work cultivates a rough and layered visceral quality. The show culminates with a painting so thickly built, it brings to mind the Balzac story "Unknown Masterpeice." Mounds of paint construct an obscure image, a self portrait, which viewers experience more through the care of each brush stoke than the foggy edged figure which haunts the picture plane.

Though one of the most compelling female voices in French modern art, Émilie Charmy remains largely unrecognized. Curator Matthew Affron hopes to change that with an exhibition at U.Va.’s Fralin Museum of Art, the first U.S. retrospective of her work. The exhibition runs from Aug. 23, 2013 through Feb. 2, 2014, then travels to the Arts Club of Chicago, where it will run from Feb. 27 through May 17, 2014.

Affron, the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and formerly The Fralin’s Curator of Modern Art, said, “Charmy’s painting engaged with major artistic currents, from Impressionism and Post-Impressionism to Fauvism before World War I.” She pursued an expressive, sensuous, modernist naturalism thereafter.

Ansel Adams’ photography is one of those things that’s easy to dismiss because we’ve seen so much of it reproduced in calendars, outsize posters, and the like. But after spending time with the actual photographs now on view at UVA’s Fralin Museum in Ansel Adams: A Legacy through October 13, I rediscovered the magic in Adams’ images of desert, mountain, and forest.

Printed in the 1960s and ’70s by Adams for the San Francisco Friends of Photography, the Meredith Collection of photographs is, in effect, a retrospective of Adams’ career from his early explorations of the medium in the 1920s, to familiar masterworks. The photographs came into the Merediths’ hands in 2002 after the SFFOP was dissolved. At the time, Tom Meredith, a committed conservationist from Austin, Texas, was looking to acquire four prints for his wife, Lynn. With the auction of the SFFOP holdings looming, the couple was talked into purchasing the entire collection in order to keep it intact.

The oil painting of a black Russian man lay quietly for years in a back corner of an antique shop in a dingy walking mall in Moscow.

Andy Leddy, a white American working on a U.S. government contract for a refu­gee program in 1992, a year after the Communist Party lost power, pulled the canvas out and unrolled it.

An exhibition set to open this month at the University of Virginia will examine the family history of Lloyd Patterson, an African-American who emigrated to the Soviet Union in the 1930s and whose son became a child film star and a well-known Soviet poet.

Titled In the Shadow of Stalin: the Patterson Family in Painting and Film, the exhibition “will examine the Patterson family’s history in order to engage larger issues,” according to the university’s Fralin Museum of Art in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is hosting the exhibit from Aug. 23 to Dec. 22.

Today’s American West looks very different from the pristine wilderness documented in the photographs of Ansel Adams.

In conjunction with the new Ansel Adams: A Legacy exhibit, The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia opens Looking at the New West: Contemporary Landscape Photography, on Friday. The exhibit, running through Dec. 15, focuses on six contemporary photographers’ explorations of the ever-changing scenery of the American West.

Suzanne McClelland asks a lot of her audience. Her exhibition STrAY: Found Poems from a Lost Time, currently at the Fralin Museum of Art, is dense, complicated and poetic. For a casual viewer it may appear obtuse and contemporary in the worst possible way. For another viewer willing to invest time into closely exploring and examining the work, it opens windows to the grinding mechanisms of history and language.

One of America’s great art connoisseurs and patrons, Paul Mellon was quoted as saying that he and his wife “almost never buy a painting or drawing we would not want to live with or see constantly.” Having cut his teeth on father Andrew Mellon’s renowned art collection (which formed the nucleus of the National Gallery of Art), Paul Mellon was graced with an extraordinarily refined eye.

This is evident in Corot to Cézanne: French Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts now on view at the Fralin.

The butterfly of Becoming the Butterfly, The Fralin Museum's current exhibition of etchings and lithographs by James Abbott McNeill Whistler refers to the stylized butterfly that Whistler used to sign his work and the exhibition. Curated by Emilie Johnson, the show provides a succinct yet effective window into Whistler's evolution as an artist. This is the first of two shows at the museum focusing on the American 19th century master's prints (through April 28). The second (opening April 30), will feature portraits.

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1834, Whistler began studying art when he was 9 in St. Petersburg, Russia, where his father, an eminent civil engineer, was employed by the Moscow-St. Petersburg Railway. Following the death of his father when Whistler was 15, the family returned to America.

Inside the dark room, six young girls huddle around a green glow. The glow comes from a green laser refracting through a large crystal that redirects beams to bounce off several carefully positioned small mirrors. A fog, produced by a hand-made machine that one girl continuously thumps, makes the beams more visible; the girls take digital pictures, adjusting the crystal or the laser to create a new shot.

Their enthusiasm is audible—besides the beat of the fog machine, the girls' exclamations fill the smoky green darkness as they move around, testing new angles with their cameras to get the perfect photograph. Afterward, in a brightly lit hallway, the girls talk excitedly about the images they captured before moving on to the next workshop.

The British Society for the History of Science

The British Society for the History of Science Great Exhibitions 2012

Sep 13, 2012

The Fralin's Making Science Visible: The Photography of Berenice Abbott was awarded third place in the small exhibitions category of the British Society of the History of Science's Great Exhibitions 2012.

Jean Hélion: Reality and Abstraction, currently on view at U.Va.'s Fralin Museum of Art presents a small, yet rich collection of this under-appreciated artist's work. The eight paintings and numerous works on paper are both handsome works of art and revealing souvenirs from Hélion's artistic journey "through and then away from abstract art."

Curated by Matthew Affron, associate professor, McIntire Department of Art, the exhibition provides an excellent showcase of [French artist, Jean] Hélion's strong compositional sense. Whether working in oil on canvas, or watercolor, charcoal, and ink on paper, his abstract shapes have real authority. In his oils, Hélion uses alternating flat areas of color with volumetric modeling that recalls the work of Fernand Léger. Deftly arranged on the picture plane, these shapes achieve Hélion's ideal of "a surface fully organized and optically integrated." This compositional skill continues in Hélion's representational work where the unexpected placement of figures and objects in space adds drama and interest. Hélion uses a striking combination of cool and warm tones in his paintings. His works on paper rely on strong lines with subtle smudges and washes of watercolor and gouache.

Making Science Visible: The Photography of Berenice Abbott, which opened Aug. 31 at the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, explores how the photography of Berenice Abbott (1898-1991) has been used in both artistic and scientific contexts.

Abbott's images are important in art, science, documentaries and the history of science education. Trained in New York as a sculptor, she left for Europe in 1921. In Paris, she became the Surrealist artist Man Ray's photographic assistant and saw the photographer Eugéne Atget's work. In 1929, Abbott returned to New York and began a series of documentary photographs of the city and directed the "Changing New York" project for the Works Progress Administration in 1939.

By the early 1950s, Abbott was experimenting with photographs of scientific subjects, and produced images of an array of scientific processes. On display in this exhibition are photographs of magnets, parabolic mirrors, insects, soap bubbles and bones created for scientific textbooks and Science Illustrated magazine. Her images represent a unique melding of science and art, which produces an aesthetic that compels the viewer while also conveying scientific ideas.

Review of The Adoration of the Magi by Bartolo di Fredi: A Masterpiece Reconstructed organized by The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia (UVaM) on view at the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA), New York.

The French painter Jean Hélion made his name as an abstract painter. Throughout the 1930s, he created extraordinary geometrical compositions that balance pristine clarity with both a strongly dynamic feeling and a sense of unceasing transformation. But by the end of the decade, Hélion turned in a different direction and began to paint worldly subjects in a realistic style.

The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia explores Hélion's evolution in Jean Hélion: Reality and Abstraction. The exhibit, curated by art history professor Matthew Affron of the College of Arts & Sciences, who is also the museum's curator of modern art, runs from Aug. 31 through Dec. 16.

Hélion helped found an international artists' group called "Abstraction-Création" in Paris, participated in many important exhibitions in Europe, and forged connections with modern art circles in the United States. He spent much of the 1930s shuttling back andforth across the Atlantic and between studios located in Paris, New York City and Rockbridge Baths, Va. His evolution is more complicated than it might first appear, Affron said. "The abstract compositions had contained configurations of form, which were ultimately converted into recognizable figures and objects. And the newer figurative pictures possessed strongly formal qualities. Hélion complicates any simple opposition between notions of abstract art's detachment and realism's involvement in social immediacy."

The artistic alchemy of ancient and modern Chinese masters will be presented in a major exhibition... Included are paintings so skillfully rendered as to make water appear to flow and trees radiate with life. Minimal brushstrokes animate a bird and contrast a green praying mantis with the hue of autumn leaves.

Delicate wisps of fog materialize as if produced by natural forces. A featureless face, all but hidden beneath the sheer pitch of looming cliffs, reveals emotions with the cant of the head.

Unlike exhibits in which one stands back several paces to admire the paintings, Ancient Masters in Modern Styles: Chinese Ink Paintings from the 16th-21st Centuries invites viewers to draw near.

"Get close to the paintings," said Kathleen M. Ryor, curator for the exhibit, which will be on display through Dec. 16. "You'll see Chinese scholars of paintings get their face right up to it.

"That's how you see the brushwork, individual strokes, movement of the artist and the process. And it's amazing, because it's so minimal, and yet so much is achieved."

New York Times

Come Let Us Adore Him

Aug 09, 2012

...Mr. Boucher and Ms. Fiorani also deliver a masterpiece but supplement it with fresh research, probing questions and answers that try to tell us things that we (and they) didn't know. In short you get, through modest means, a big art experience: beauty, deepened by information, leading to contemplation. As I said, perfect.


Lady Like

Aug 06, 2012

July 31 — August 6, 2012

French novelist Roland Dorgelès wrote, "Émilie Charmy, it would appear, sees like a woman and paints like a man, from the one she takes grace and from the other strength, and this is what makes her such a strange and powerful painter who holds our attention." Remembered in part for her place in the early avant-garde movement, Charmy produced a body of work full of...full the body. Her sensuous, expressive portraits of the female form have remained objects of admiration....

No 237, July/August 2012

Like Caesar's Gaul, this exhibition is divided into three parts. The first is a display of paintings by Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, David Johnson, Standford Robinson Gifford, John Frederick Kensett and Aaron Draper Shattuck, all mainly New York-based, who composed the first and second (and final) generations of what art historians have name the Hudson River School.

One of the must-see exhibitions of the summer is now on view at the Museum of Biblical Art ... "It's Bartolo's masterpiece," said Bruce Boucher, the director of the University of Virginia Art Museum, which first hosted the show and owns one of the predella panels. The other is loaned from the Lindenau-Museum in Altenburg, Germany.