Poughkeepsie, NY.— The summer exhibition at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, “A Taste for the Modern: Gifts from Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller, Edna Bryner Schwab, and Virginia Herrick Deknatel”, will showcase 48 paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and photographs that have been donated to the Art Center by three Vassar alumnae. On view from June 24th through September 4th, “A Taste for the Modern”, will examine for the first time the modern art collecting of these three generous alumnae – Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller, Edna Bryner Schwab, and Virginia Herrick Deknatel – and the development of their tastes for the modern.
In addition, the exhibition, curated by Patricia Phagan, the Philip and Lynn Straus Curator of Prints and Drawings, will explore how all three of their collecting histories have profoundly affected and will continue to influence the visitor’s and Vassar student’s experience of exploring modern and contemporary art at the college.
In the permanent collection of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, works of art by 20th-century modernists vie for attention, providing excellent examples for contemplating the moments and moods associated with artists and movements of that century. Luscious, nature-evoking canvases and watercolors stand out by the circle of American artists around gallery owner and photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Provocative oils and prints by mid-century expressionists project new, alternative, and tense worlds. How did these and many other adventurous modern works come to reside at the Art Center? The answer may be seen through the important gifts to the Art Center from the three generous alumnae to be on view in the exhibition.
Several key works will also be on view in the permanent collection galleries. One section of the exhibition will explore mid-century works given by Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller (1909-1992), Vassar class of 1931. The remaining two sections explore works donated by Edna Bryner Schwab (1886-1967), Vassar class of 1907, and Virginia Herrick Deknatel (1906-2009), Vassar class of 1929. Some of the works include: the drawing “Schwanenteich (Swan Pond)” by Paul Klee, “Night Mirror” by William Baziotes, “No 4.” by Bradley Walker Tomlin, and “Child and Beast II” by Karel Appel, given to the Art Center by Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller. The turbulent and groundbreaking watercolor “Thirty-Fifth Street and Fifth Avenue at Noon” by John Marin, and several of his transformative landscapes dominate the works given by Edna Bryner Schwab to the college. Virginia Herrick Deknatel’s gifts encompass a wide arc, from several works by Pablo Picasso to drawings by Paul Cézanne to bronzes by David Smith and Anthony Caro. All three of these women collected in close concert with authorities in the field of modern art. Blanchette Rockefeller sought advice for her collection primarily from Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the first director of the Museum of Modern Art. Edna Bryner Schwab and her husband Arthur purchased numerous works of avant-garde American art from Stieglitz. Virginia Deknatel partnered with her husband, Frederick Deknatel, professor of modern art at Harvard University, in collecting post-impressionist and modern art. After his death, she continued this tradition.
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center was founded in 1864 as the Vassar College Art Gallery. The current 36,400-square-foot facility, designed by Cesar Pelli and named in honor of the new building’s primary donor, opened in 1993. The Art Center’s collections chart the history of art from antiquity to the present and comprise over 18,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and glass and ceramic wares. Notable holdings include the Warburg Collection of Old Master prints, an important group of Hudson River School paintings given by Matthew Vassar at the college’s inception, and a wide range of works by major European and American 20th-century painters. Vassar was the first U.S. college founded with a permanent art collection and gallery, and at any given time, the Permanent Collection Galleries of the Art Center feature approximately 350 works from Vassar’s extensive collections. This January, the Art Center reopened with a new look at its acclaimed permanent collection in newly reinstalled and reorganized galleries. In addition to the permanent collection, the reorganization includes the Focus Gallery that features temporary exhibitions, as well as three galleries devoted to special exhibitions. Visit the museum’s website at … http://fllac.vassar.edu/