Spotlights: The Fantastic Photos of Julia Margaret Cameron

 

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Image: Julia Margaret Cameron (British 1815-1879). The Mountain of Nymph Sweet Liberty from Miniature Edition of Mrs. Cameron’s Photographs from the Life, 1874. Albumen print mounted on cardstock. Eskenazi Museum of Art 75.28.15

This summer the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is exhibiting Spotlights: Five Views into the Museum’s Collection. Nan Brewer, the museum’s Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Works on Paper chose a rare book of photos by nineteenth-century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron for her section of the exhibition. 

The wife of a retired jurist and mother of six, Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815–1879) took up photography at the age of forty-eight. One of the medium’s early pioneers, Cameron is widely recognized for her pictorial artistry. Born in Calcutta, India, Cameron traveled widely during her lifetime, studying in France, and living in England, before her death in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) at age sixty-four. The great aunt of author Virginia Woolf, Cameron brushed shoulders with many famous and historical figures of the time.

In 1874, she created an album of 101 miniature versions of her earlier works as “a board of ship companion for my beloved son Hardinge Hay Cameron.” Miniature Edition of Mrs. Cameron’s Photographs from the Life is a rare treasure, available for view in Spotlights on individual pages as it was disbound for repair.

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Image: Julia Margaret Cameron (British 1815-1879). W. G. Palgrave from Miniature Edition of Mrs. Cameron’s Photographs from the Life, 1874. Albumen print mounted on cardstock. Eskenazi Museum of Art 75.38.65

The album was created by making small copy photos from images that spanned ten years (all are albumen prints mounted on cardstock). As a personal memento, the album reads like a visual scrapbook of Cameron’s family, friends, neighbors, and members of the Victorian intelligentsia. Among her subjects are naturalist Charles Darwin, the great poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and other colorful characters such as W. G. Palgrave, the Jesuit missionary who would often disguise himself during his travels to then, forbidden lands, and Dejatch Alamayou, the only person outside of the royal family to be buried at Windsor Castle. Interspersed with these portraits are lyrical allegorical vignettes and illustrations of themes from classical mythology, the Bible, and English literature, which Cameron recreated stylistically based on prototypes from Renaissance and Pre-Raphaelite painting traditions.

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Image: Julia Margaret Cameron (British 1815-1879). Christabel from Miniature Edition of Mrs. Cameron’s Photographs from the Life, 1874 (negative 1866). Albumen print mounted on cardstock. Eskenazi Museum of Art 75.38.8

For more on Julia Margaret Cameron, check out a recent video interview below with contemporary photographer Nan Goldin, as part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s The Artist Project series.

We hope you take this opportunity to visit the museum and see Cameron’s photography and the rest of our Spotlights exhibition for yourself. It is on view through September 4, 2016. If you have any questions please contact us at iuam@indiana.edu.

Eskenazi Museum of Art website

 

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Your Favorite Things: Sasha Sokolchik and Mountain Landscape with Travelers

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This is the first installment of a new series where students, community members, and staff share their favorite works at the IU Art Museum. This week’s feature is by Alexandra “Sasha” Sokolchik, a freshman at Indiana University Bloomington majoring in Economic Consulting. Sasha selected Mountain Landscape with Travelers, a large oil painting on canvas, attributed to Jan Hackaert (Netherlandish, 1628-in or after 1685), and Adriaen van de Velde (Netherlandish, 1636-1672), located in the museum’s first floor Gallery of the Art of the Western World. Here is what Sasha had to say:

What I love most about this painting is how small it makes me feel. Not insignificant, but rather, all of my problems become so trivial, so irrelevant.  My world expands and I am reminded of the bigger painting all around me. I will not be here in a hundred years and I cannot say with certainty how much longer our world will look the way it does today, how long these trees will stay rooted, or these mountains unbroken, but I do know that life will continue no matter the form it decides to take.

I am brought back to reality every time I take in Mountain Landscape with Travelers, remembering that this life is about simplicity. Without bounds, it is everlasting yet I find myself caught up in every day monotony at times. Without a constant mnemonic I casually forget about the fact that I am simply human. A human, just as the millions before me and the millions after me. It serves as a reminder that I should not carry burden on my shoulder and simply live to expand my knowledge and happiness.

I always wonder where the traveler sitting on the side of the dirt road has come from. What is in that bag that he tosses over his shoulder and carries with him along his adventures? What are his thoughts as he sits turned to the lake and mountains under the shade of a tree? More exciting than that; where is this man headed? My future, like his, is up in the air waiting for the wind to blow it in the right direction.

I am excited for whatever my compass needle decides to show but for now, I know that the IU Art Museum will always have a place for me to come ponder and reflect. It is always comforting when a book seems to have been written about you, or a song sung about your life; but through a painting, the text is written into every brush stroke and the song is sung with every color, bringing out those emotions with an entirely new intensity. These are just my sentiments though and I am only a simple observer sitting at the top of a hill by the side of a dirt road.

Many thanks to Sasha for her contribution. Stay tuned for more stories in “Your Favorite Things.” If you would like to contribute to the series, contact Abe Morris the IU Art Museum’s Manager of Public Relations and Marketing at: abamorri@iu.edu

The Progressive and Regressive America: Exploring “Rosie the Riveter”

200.XX.10.8Alfred T. Palmer
American, 1906-1993
Fingers of Destruction, ca. 1942–43
Gelatin silver print
Henry Holmes Smith Archive 
200.XX.10.8

“Rosie the Riveter” is an illustration that many people may recognize. It is the face of a strong and determined fictional young woman during World War II. The image, often displayed in the form of a poster or other portrait, portrays the young woman with a distinct red bandana and with her flexed arm muscles ready for combat. Often times, this image is paired with the phrase “We can do it,” which was aimed to encourage women to earn and care for families as the men were away at war. This was a precursor for the role reversals that women tackled during World War II.

The black and white photo installation, curated by Nan Brewer and a museum intern from the Department of Communication and Culture Maura Campbell-Balkits and on view in the Gallery of the Art of the Western World, shows real life examples of “Rosie.” Including photographs by Howard Liberman, Andreas Feininger, David Bransby, and Alfred T. Palmer, the group of six photographs shows white women and women of color working in industrial settings, creating parachutes, working with armaments, and putting together bombs.

Originally part of a larger selection of photographs that included men working as well, these photos were taken as propaganda for the Office of War Information. The point of the photographs was to mobilize citizens to participate in war efforts and to display national strength to the rest of the world. Brewer and Campbell-Balkits found it to be essential to showcase the unique range of inclusion in the 1940s. This series is particularly notable as the jobs that these women and minorities were undertaking in the photographs were jobs that were usually reserved for white men at this time. However, with the men at war, white and minority women were the ones left to support families and to help supply the military.

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Manoower: Negro navy yard worker. 
In a sea of silk, this woman worker is making parachutes for 
America’s paratroopers. She is one of many Negroe employees 
in the aircraft factory of an Eastern navy yard. May 1942
Gelatin silver print
Henry Holmes Smith Archive
200.XX.27.1

After speaking with Brewer and Campbell-Balkits, it is clear that this new era was progressive for the United States. The photographs  in this series were utilized to make America appear modern and powerful, with all hands on deck for the war. According to Brewer, this was potentially a factor in the forward movement of the civil and women’s rights movements and was one of the first times in history that photographs of people of color were circulated in news publications.

However, as progressive as the photographs appear to be, there are always aspects of the truth that remain regressive. Campbell-Balkits said that the photographs do not show the hardships of these groups, only the positives. For example, Brewer said that although women and minorities were doing the same types of factory jobs that white men had done prior to the war, there was still a wage gap that was unequal to what white men had been paid. Additionally, there was the issue of the post-war effect. According to Brewer, the end of the war meant white men returned to their jobs in the factories, leaving women and minorities without these positions once more.

These photographs say more than what women and minorities were doing during World War II; this series also highlights the effects of the war. After developing more capabilities to work for themselves throughout the war, women and minorities strove to further that ability both legally and socially. Indeed, once women and minorities had the knowledge that “they can do it,” the empowering image of “Rosie” and the phrase “We can do it” became a progressive way to think for those who had been told otherwise.

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R.C.

Green Shutters

Emilio SanchezEmilio Sanchez 
American, born Cuba, 1921–1999 
Green Shutters, 1998 
Oil on canvas 
Gift of the Emilio Sanchez Foundation, 2011.69

Emilio Sanchez was born in Cuba in 1921, but he moved to New York when he was twenty-three years old to study at the Art Students League. His artwork features various landscapes and buildings from the tropics as well as cityscapes from New York City.

In an interview conducted by Arlene Jacobowitz, assistant curator of paintings and sculpture at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Sanchez was asked what fascinated him about the houses he painted. He replied that he was “struck by the patterns in the little houses… and…when the sun is turned on, it’s absolutely incredible.” He was also quoted as saying that he liked tropical landscapes better, though, and when asked if this had to do with his Cuban background, he answered, “I suppose so, although I’ve been a terrible Cuban: I’ve never lived there [as an adult].” He said he grew more aware of the country when he was away and began to miss it. It was visiting Cuba that led to him becoming more interested in Cuban subjects and their beauty.

Green Shutters is one example of the many architectural paintings that Sanchez completed in his lifetime. I was drawn to this work because of its bright yellows and greens as well as its straight lines. I was impressed by its sharpness and perspective (two things I have trouble with in my own paintings).  My curiosity, though, was mainly about the bright and vibrant colors and if they were truly representational. In the interview is where I found my answer, Sanchez states, “I have to tone things down.… What is most interesting is how the sunlight will bring up contrast because…right in the middle of the day when the sun is at its brightest, the sun can wash the color out completely.… So just a little earlier or later I get this wonderful rich shading, especially with yellow that seems to be the best color.… Sometimes I have to wait for the sunny day to get the effect I want.”

I find it amazing that sometimes he actually had to tone down the colors. So when you look at these brilliant depictions of doors and windows, just think that they may be even more brilliant in person.

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References:

Emilio Sanchez Foundation. “Emilio Sanchez Biography.”  http://www.emiliosanchezfoundation.org/sanchez.html

Lost Record

Transferring as a new student to Indiana University this summer, I was ready to jump in and get involved with the Bloomington community.  As an arts management major with a background in studio art, my first stop was the Indiana University Art Museum. Taking a look through all of the galleries I found myself clinging to a piece by Kay Sage in the Gallery of the Art of the Western World on the first floor.

Kay Sage (American, 1898–1963)
Lost Record,1940
Oil on canvas.
IU Art Museum 64.73

This Surrealist oil painting titled “Lost Record” (1940) seemed tiny compared to the larger works that took over entire walls in the gallery.  However, though small in size with dimensions of only 36 x 27 ¾ inches, one cannot help but be drawn in by the power of Sage’s eerie, dream-like landscape.  A single dying tree is the only sign of life in an otherwise barren landscape with two ambiguous rock formations and one must ask “who is this artist?”  Intrigued, I decided to do some more research on the artist:

Kay Sage never stayed in one place for too long; her constant displacement started at a young age due to her parents’ divorce and her aversion to a formal education.  However, Sage found a temporary home and inspiration in Paris in 1938 where she joined other artists in the Surrealist movement.  Andre Breton, the group’s leader, officially accepted her as a Surrealist artist soon after; Sage was one of only a few female artists who were formally designated as part of this artistic movement. Though Sage drew inspiration from her Surrealist counterparts such as Giorgio de Chirico and Yves Tanguy (whom later became her husband in 1940), “Sage’s mature vocabulary of architectural scaffolding set in barren landscapes infused with a disquiet melancholy is intensely personal and entirely her own” (Celia Gant Edict Of Women Artists, Vol. 2).  Unlike her contemporaries, Sage utilized muted colors, architectural forms, and metaphysically directly linking her works with personal suffering of inner loneliness and disillusionment with society, many pieces foreshadowing her suicide in 1963.

References:

http://www.sullivangoss.com/kay_Sage/

http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=48080

Celia Gant Edict Of Women Artists, Vol. 2 (via Jenny McComas)

http://www.oxfordartonline.com.ezproxy.lib.indiana.edu/subscriber/article/benezit/B00159028?q=kay+sage&search=quick&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit

http://www.oxfordartonline.com.ezproxy.lib.indiana.edu/subscriber/article/grove/art/T074967?q=kay+sage&search=quick&pos=2&_start=1#firsthit

S.D.

Art Work of the Week: Henri’s Portrait of Edith Haworth

As a photographer, I prefer portraits taken when the subject is unprepared. I am drawn to depicting a fleeting facial expression that shows an emotion or personality trait. In my opinion, a good portrait is an attempt to give the viewer a sense of who the subject is beyond physical appearance. It is much easier to capture these quick, unnoticed expressions when taking a photo. Many painted portraits show a well-lit subject confronting the viewer with a vacant facial expression. Although the technical skill involved in creating these portraits can be praised, I find them lacking an emotional component. This portrait is different.

Robert Henri
Portrait of Edith Haworth
April 1909
Oil on canvas
IU Art Museum 76.55

Henri painted this portrait of his former student Edith Haworth in an hour and a half during her visit to his studio before she left for Europe in 1909. He captured her looking over her shoulder in what appears to be an intimate, reflective moment for Haworth. The loose, spontaneous brushwork provides a sense of urgency, furthering the perception of a passing moment. Everything about her posture and apparel show the confidence of a wealthy, modern woman, but her face displays a sense of vulnerability. The emotion captured in Haworth’s face is entrancing.

Henri often depicted family members or friends in his portraits. His increased teaching responsibilities around this time led him to work in a smaller format with a less formal style of portraiture. Working with a group known as The Eight, later called the Ashcan school, he created work depicting modern, urban life. The group was known for their journalistic approach to art, as shown in Henri’s Portrait of Edith Haworth, where they attempted to capture more than simply physical appearance.

Robert Henri’s Portrait of Edith Haworth can be found in the Gallery of Art of the Western World on first floor of the IU Art Museum.

S.A.

Art Work of the Week: Caillebotte’s Effect of Rain

The very first time I visited the IU Art Museum two years ago, this was one of the pieces that resonated with me the most. Even without knowing much about Gustave Caillebotte at the time, I could appreciate the rhythmic juxtaposition of the ripples across the water, caused by the steady fall of a summer rain. This painting made me feel peaceful, and almost like I could smell the warm, humid air. When I was young, one of my brother and my favorite summer activities was to play in the rain, splashing through puddles in our neighborhood streets and mostly disregarding our umbrellas.
(When cars weren’t coming, of course. Safety first)

Gustave Caillebotte
French, 1848–1894
Yerres, Effect of Rain, 1875
Oil on canvas, 31 5/8 x 23 ¼ in.
Gift of Mrs. Nicholas H. Noyes, 71.40.2. Image via.

According to the Masterworks of the Indiana University Art Museum (pg. 298), Caillebotte’s family estate was located in Yerres and he enjoyed painting the river near the family property. Yerres, Effect of Rain was Caillebotte’s first work to focus on water as the dominant element of the composition. The abandoned canoe across the water recalls canoes/skiffs found frequently in Caillebotte’s other paintings, typically manned by bourgeois citizens. Unlike the rest of his oeuvre (body of work), this painting does not incorporate any human figures into the composition.

Propriété Caillebotte à Yerres. Caillebotte lived here. Yikes, that’s nice. Image via.

Caillebotte was the son of a wealthy textile merchant, and utilized his inheritance in order to financially support his Impressionist artist friends through exhibitions and publications. He was at the forefront of the movement, this painting being produced during his most prolific painting period. When the Impressionist group dissolved in 1882, Caillebotte’s painting output diminished and he turned instead to designing and building racing yachts similar to those he had depicted in his paintings. Today, Caillebotte is remembered as a pivotal member of the Impressionist movement.

If you really enjoy this painting, Angles Café and Gift Shop sells an umbrella with its printed image. The large, high quality Caillebotte umbrella has a fine, curved wooden handle and sells for $39.99.

You can find the real painting in the first floor Art of the Western World gallery!

A.H.