Sunday, January 21, 2018

Francis Quirk Curates Exhibition of Works of Richard Treaster with those of the Camille and Henry Drefyus Foundation

In our ongoing exploration of the curatorial work of Francis Quirk at Lehigh University, we learned of a 1967 exhibition of the works of Richard Treaster in combination with works held by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. 

Watercolorist Richard Treaster was born in Lorain, Ohio in 1932. He earned a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Treaster became a faculty member at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1966. 

Treaster has earned many honors for his painting including being one of only 50 living painters represented in The Metropolitan Museum of Arts "200 years of American Watercolor" in 1966. His paintings are in over 200 private collections throughout the United States including the Ford Motor Company, Cleveland Museum of Art, The Butler Museum of Art and the National Academy of Design.

Prior to his 2002 death, Treaster resided in Lakewood, Ohio.

We can see why Quirk might have had an affinity for this artist. Both worked in watercolors. And both were skillful draftsman. While Treaster was not as technically skilled as Quirk, he did have the ability to reproduce an image with considerable accuracy as illustrated in the images below. 

Despite his widespread body of work and some referring to him as the premiere watercolorist of his day, Treaster seems to be largely forgotten. He has not a Wikipedia page and we were able to find only one image of his countenance. One reason may be that watercolors don't display as well in Museums as oils. Thus, they are relegated to periodic exhibitions or buried away in archives for most of their lives. 

The Trip by Richard Treaster

Law and Cleveland   Watercolor by Richard Treaster

The Cellist  Water Color by Richard Treaster  Cleveland Museum of Art

The Group Plan by Richard Treaster 

Vermeer and Times by Richard Treaster 1984

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Two New Francis Quirk Chalk Drawings Come to Light at Ursinus College- Depicted Benefactor Berman Donates Harding Painting to Lehigh

Working on a hunch we reached out to Ursinus College in Allentown, Pennsylvania to see if they had any works by Francis Quirk. As it turned out, they had two chalk drawings. One is dated 1965 and is of an unknown gentleman. The other depicts the philanthropist Philip I. Berman who worked with his wife Muriel to support the arts in Pennsylvania.  This drawing of Berman was included in an A to Z listing of works in the Ursinus collection. Given Berman's love of art, his donations to Lehigh, and now, this drawing their is little doubt that Quirk knew Berman well and had a relationship with him.

Portrait of Philip Berman  by Francis J. Quirk  Image Courtesy of Ursinus College
Philip I. Berman  Philanthropist Businessman

Quirk Drawing  Portrait
Portrait of a man 1964 by Francis Quirk  Image Courtesy of Ursinus College
We include another chalk drawing of Quirk's for comparison purposes. 
Francis J. Quirk Chalk Drawing  Portrait of Smoking Man 1951  Image Courtesy of a Private Collector

The Berman's business pursuits included the Fleetways trucking business which Philip Berman managed from 1965 to 1990, and Hess's department store which the Bermans bought in 1968. Hess's was an old Allentown institution and throve mightily under the Bermans, expanding from a single downtown store to a chain of seventeen stores in two states by the time the Bermans sold it in 1979. In 1975 Muriel Berman opened Hess's Fine Arts Gallery, where she exhibited and sold the work of first rate artists.

The Berman's were avid collectors with a wide variety of interests. Their personal collection would include works by many of the leading names in the modern art movement, from American masters such as Thomas Eakins to Gauguin, Matisse, Renoir and Picasso. The Bermans became a fixture in the art world, traveling through Europe and Israel personally negotiating the purchase of many of his artistic acquisitions. When asked why he bought so many works by each artist he responded with his retailer's philosophy, "If one is good, then 10 is better."

They numbered among their personal friends the artist Francoise Gilot, former mistress of Picasso and mother of Paloma Picasso. When Gilot married Jonas Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine, she and Muriel Berman shopped for her wedding dress at Hess's.
They regaled their friends with stories of their visits to Henry Moore, whose sculptures occupy prominent positions in the Berman's personal sculpture garden, as well as to Alexander Calder and Marc Chagall.
Berman's list of donations to Museums is impressive. The first outright gift of art for public display may have been the gift of a painting, "Drifting Fog" by George M. Harding, to Lehigh University in 1959.  The work has a coastal flavor to it as it includes sailboats and a lobster trap.  Perhaps Harding crossed paths with Quirk in Maine.
Morning Fog by George M. Harding  Image courtesy of Lehigh University Art Gallery

We do not know if Quirk new George M. Harding, but there is some likelihood as both were active in the eastern Pennsylvania art scene and similar organizations, such as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. 

Major gifts of art followed to Ursinus College and Lehigh University as well as to several other colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Philip Berman became Chairman of the Board of Trustees in 1989. At Ursinus College, to house their gifts of art, the Bermans established in 1984 the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art.

George Matthews Harding  American Painter 

George Matthews Harding (1882–1959) was an American painter, author-illustrator, and a muralist. Born into an artistic family in Philadelphia, Harding was particularly influenced by the art career of his older sister, Charlotte. Following in her footsteps, he studied at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, then with the distinguished illustrator-teacher Howard Pyle. In 1903 he began a successful career as an illustrator-author, which included international travel.

On the Trail of the Hun Aylward by George Matthews Harding

After becoming America's first war artist, Harding was particularly intrigued by the new technologies of war. His war pictures are full of guns, airplanes, motorcycles, trucks, and tanks. He returned to American in February 1919 and before the end of the year published a lavish portfolio of his war art, The American Expeditionary Forces in Action.

In 1922, Harding became the head of the department of illustration at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, remaining at the school until his retirement in 1958. During World War II, at age 60, he was once again commissioned as an army captain and created war art in the South Pacific. He was the only AEF artist to serve in both wars. 

Among his work was the murals in the Montgomery County Courthouse. You can read his writings about this work here. He also painted murals for several other Federal buildings including Post Offices as part of the WPA program. 

Ben Franklin Colonial Postmaster- Mural by George Matthews Harding

More can be found in his Wikipedia biography. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Francis Quirk Curates Exhibition with Waldo Peirce

We continue to examine the work of Quirk as a pillar of the Pennsylvania arts community through the exhibitions he organized under Quirk's era at Lehigh.  Perhaps the renaissance of his reputation as a painter will be matched by a new found respect for his curatorial efforts. This post focuses on Waldo Peirce. As you will read below Quirk included him in a 1960 exhibition with Charles Ward and Raymond Galucci  Full Pierce biographies can be found on Wikipedia and Citizendium We have excerpted from them below. 

Waldo Peirce (December 17, 1884 – March 8, 1970) was an American painter.[2]
A 1920 portrait painting of Waldo Peirce by George Bellows, on display at the de Young Museum in San Francisco
Peirce was both a prominent painter and a well-known character. He was sometimes called "the American Renoir". A long-time friend of Ernest Hemingway, of whom he painted the cover picture for Time magazine in 1937, he was once called "the Ernest Hemingway of American painters." To which he replied, "They'll never call Ernest Hemingway the Waldo Peirce of American writers."

Waldo Peirce Time Cover Painting of Ernest Hemingway
Cover Painting of Ernest Hemingway by Waldo Peirce  Photo Courtesy of Time Magazine3

As Peirce once said, he never worked a day in his life. He did, however, spend many hours every day for 50 years of his life painting thousands of pictures of his beloved families (he was married four times and had numerous children), still lifes, and landscapes. Peirce was a large man for his time (he was drafted onto the Harvard football team, he said, solely because of his size) and with a mustache and full beard and a large cigar jammed perpetually into his mouth he looked every inch of a cartoonist's notion of an artist. Peirce himself was adamant about one thing: "I'm a painter," he insisted, "not an artist".

He was born in Bangor, Maine to Mellen C. Peirce and Anna Hayford on December 17, 1884. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and graduated in 1903. He then attended Harvard University.
In 1915 Peirce joined the American Field Service, an ambulance corps that served on the French battlefields, two years before the entry of the United States into World War I. He was later decorated with the Croix de Guerre by the French government for bravery at Verdun.

In 1938, he was commissioned by the Treasury Section of Fine Arts to paint two murals, Legends of the Hudson and Rip van Winkle, for the U.S. Post Office in Troy, New York.

Legends of the Hudson by Waldo Peirce  Mural in the Troy, New York Post Office

Rip Van Winkel by Waldo Peirce  Mural in the Troy, New York Post Office 

He lived in Searsport, Maine. He died on March 8, 1970, in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Below is a representative painting of his oeuvre. The Silver Slipper painting of a saloon features a self-portrait of Peirce seated on the left and his friend Hemingway seated at the bar through the archway. 

Silver Slipper by Waldo Peirce 

Peirce was a prolific painter and the abundance of his work may detract from its market value today.  His works can generally be purchased for less than $10,000 and a selection are available from the Liros Gallery in Blue Hill, Maine.

These modest valuations are a bit surprising when one considers his paintings can be found in the museums listed below.
  • Addison Gallery of Ameican Art, at Phillips Academy
  • Arizona State University Art Museum 
  • Brooklyn Museum of Art 
  • Butler Institute of American Art 
  • Carnegie Museums of Pittsburg/Carnegie Institute 
  • Colby College Museum of Art 
  • Columbus Museum of Art–Ohio 
  • Encyclopedia Britannica Company
  • Farnsworth Art Musueum 
  • Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, at the University of Minnesota
  • Georgia Museum of Art, at the University of Georgia
  • Hirschorn Collection
  • James A. Michener Foundation
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art 
  • National Portrait Gallery, at the Smithsonian Institution 
  • Newark Museum 
  • Ogunquit Museum of American Art 
  • Parrish Art Museum 
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 
  • Pepsi-Cola Company
  • Portland Museum of Art 
  • Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery 
  • Smithsonian American Art Gallery 
  • Southern Oregon State College
  • University of Arizona Museum of Art 
  • University of Maine Museum of Art 
  • University of Michigan Museum of Art 
  • Upjohn Company
  • Washington State College
  • Whitney Museum of American Art