Colleen Browning: The Early Works
In collaboration with the Thomas J. Walsh
January 24 - March 24, 2013
Remembered for her capacity to endow scenes from every day life with touches of "magic realism," painter Colleen Browning (1929-2003) is the focus of this monographic exhibition, mounted jointly with Fairfield University's Walsh Art Gallery. The Bellarmine Museum showcases Browning's early works on paper, together with several signature oils, while the Walsh displays some of her strongest post-1960s paintings.
Watch the News 8 interview with Dr. Jill Deupi, Director of the Bellarmine Museum of Art, on Colleen Browning.
The Essential Line: Drawings from the Dahesh Museum of Art
October 11, 2012 - January 18, 2013
This exhibition of works on loan from the Dahesh Museum of Art celebrates the act of drawing in the 19th century, when the creation of preliminary works on paper was the cornerstone of proper academic training and art-making. Embracing a broad range of subjects, the stunning pieces in this show are united by their creators' emphases on careful draftsmanship and extraordinary skills. Highlights include drawings by Thomas Couture (French, 1815-1879), Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822-1899), Frederic Lord Leighton (English, 1830-1896), Lawrence Alma-Tadema (British (born in the Netherlands), 1836-1912), and Alexandre Cabanel (French, 1823-1889).
The roots of the academic art tradition can be traced back to 1563, when the Accademia del Disegno was founded in Florence under the aegis of Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519-1574). This institution, which consciously followed the written descriptions of the lost academies of ancient Greece and Rome, catalyzed the creation (under Pope Clement VIII Aldobrandini -69) of the Roman Accademia di San Luca in 1577 as well as the AcadÃ©mie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, inaugurated in 1648 by France’s Louis XIV (1638-1715). These canonical institutions in turn inspired a host of imitators during the 18th century, which witnessed a veritable mania for state-sanctioned academies. Indeed, by the close of the Age of Enlightenment, Europe boasted more than a hundred such bodies; a five-fold increase over the nineteen that existed in 1720. Despite their vast geographic spread (they stretched from St. Petersburg to London), these academies â like their venerable forebears in Florence, Rome and Paris â shared a steadfast commitment to disegno, a term referring to the hybridized mastery of both design and drawing that could be attained only through carefully studying and copying accepted exemplars. To ensure the centrality of disegno to artistic practice, rigid curricula were instituted in Europe’s many academies. Neophytes would begin with the intensive study of individual physiognomic details before advancing to copying the Old Masters (generally through prints and engravings). Having mastered these fundamentals, students were permitted to make renderings of classical statues and plaster casts from antiquity and the Renaissance, after which they would proceed to drawing from life (a critical exercise that even seasoned academic artists would turn to throughout their careers). Only after successfully completing each of these steps would young painters launch into serious assays in oil; a progression that typically took between five to eight years to complete.
Drawing continued to serve as a critical tool in practioners’ creative arsenals well into the 19th century, despite the incursion of significant new movements, including Romanticism, Realism and Impressionism. Its on-going relevance may be ascribed to the fact that such works served many different ends. Drawings were used not only as preparatory materials for highly finished paintings or prints but also as sketches in which artists either conceived new works or developed nascent ideas. They were tangible records of abstract thoughts, expressed in concrete visual terms, as well as the immortalization of new sources of inspiration (recalling that photography was only invented in the mid-19th century). Endlessly flexible, the act of drawing could be harnessed in the service of elevated classical themes as well as low-brow humor through caricatures or proto-cartoons, in addition to all genres in between. The results could be highly finished, stand-alone works or the loosest of sketches, intended for no eyes other than the artists’ own. Whatever the case, the resulting images remain critical cultural and historical documents as well as compelling aesthetic objects, as The Essential Line: Drawings from the Dahesh Museum of Art confirms. These works not only reveal a wealth of incredible technical skill â hard won after years of strictly disciplined practice and training â but also remind us of the great range of styles and approaches that are possible under the misleadingly corseting label of “academic art.”
Everett Raymond Kinstler:
Pulps to Portraits
June 14 - September 28, 2012
Painter Everett Raymond Kinstler (b. 1926) sees the world in hues. Unfettered by conventional color designations, Kinstler paints his subjects as he perceives them, rather than as he knows them to be. His shadows, then, are neither brown nor black but instead pulse in shades of indigo and violet, while the artist's highlights dance unabashedly up and down the chromatic spectrum, from dusky peach to the palest of blues. Like a true master of his craft, however, Kinstler does not stop at mere technical wizardry. Rather he harnesses his virtuosity in furtherance of what he considers the chief ends of art: the conveyance of emotion, the unleashing of imagination and the craft of communication. The results are staggering; an ersatz world, conjured only in oil on canvas, suspends our disbelief while simultaneously speaking to our hearts, minds and souls. Experience Kinstler's mastery for yourself at the Bellarmine Museum's Everett Raymond Kinstler: Pulps to Portraits exhibition (which was organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA), now through September 28, 2012.
Kinstler, who splits his time between New York City (where he has had a studio at the National Arts Club for more than sixty years) and Easton, CT, has produced more than 2,000 portraits in his career; a career that is far from over for the octogenarian, who continues to paint every day. Highlights among the thirty-three works on view at the Bellarmine include Kinstler's paintings of President Bill Clinton, Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck, Benny Goodman, Katharine Hepburn, Paul Newman, Liv Ullmann, and Tom Wolfe. "Everett Kinstler's portraits not only capture, with dazzling bravura, the physical traits and characteristics of his sitters, they also convey the essence and character of those he paints," notes the Bellarmine's director, Dr. Jill Deupi. She continues: "It is this capacity to 'connect' that makes Kinstler, like the great John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) before him, a true master of the genre."
One of our nation's finest portraitists, Kinstler was awarded the highly coveted Copley Medal from the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in 1999. Additionally the artist has received honorary doctorates from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco (2010), the Lyme Academy College of Art (2002) and Rollins College (1983). His memberships include: National Academy of Design (N.A.), Allied Artists of America, American Watercolor Society, Pastel Society of America (Hall of Fame), Audubon Artists, Copley Society of Boston (life), and National Arts Club. Kinstler's works are represented in prestigious art institutions across the country, including the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery (which acquired over 100 of his works for its permanent collection), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the White House. A large number of his paintings are also held in private collections.
Everett Raymond Kinstler: Pulps to Portraits features an exhibition catalogue with over 60 images, including comic and pulp pages, paper-back book covers, easel paintings, portraits, and the artist's most recent movie series, plus an essay by William H. Gerdts, art historian and Professor Emeritus of Art History at the CUNY Graduate Center. It is available for purchase at the museum for $20. An illustrated exhibition brochure is also available, free of charge, in the galleries. Exhibition programming includes Gallery Talks with Everett Raymond Kinstler at 5 p.m., Wednesday, June 20, 2012, and 5 p.m., Thursday, September 20, 2012. The Bellarmine Museum also presents Hold That Pose! Portraiture for Children, a Family Day, for ages seven and up from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, 2012. The documentary, Everett Raymond Kinstler: An Artist's Journey (2004, 56 minutes), will be shown on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at noon, Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at noon, Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at noon, and Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at noon.
This exhibition has been made possible by the generosity and support of the following institutions and individuals:
Mr. and Mrs. Tony Bennett
Dianne B. and A. Van H. Bernhard
Dr. Arnold J. Davis, Lord of Barnham Broom
Bill and Jane Donaldson
Mr. and Mrs. E.R. Kinstler
Mr. Gary R. Haynes, Haynes Galleries
Mr. James B. Murphy II
The National Arts Club
National Endowment for the Humanities
Norman Rockwell Museum
Portrait Society of America
Jack Richeson & Co.
Super Discount Wine & Liquor
Westtown Publishing Company
sarah z. sleeper (mfa '12)
July 11 - September 28, 2012
ek•phra•sis. n.\'ek-frə-səs\. A literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art.
Holding the ancient technique of responding through the written word to visual works of art ("ekphrasis") at its core, this show provides an exciting platform for graduate students in Fairfield University's MFA in Creative Writing program. This year Sarah Sleeper (MFA '12) responds in prose to four works by Everett Raymond Kinstler, four works on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and one piece in the museum's permanent collection.
Immortality of the Spirit: Chinese Funerary Art from the Han & Tang Dynasties
April 12, 2012 - June 6, 2012
For the ancient Chinese, life in the afterworld was as important as one's existence on earth. For this reason the dead were laid to rest in tombs intended to replicate earthly palaces in all their splendor. They were also adequately provisioned by surviving family members with mingqi, or "spirit articles," for the deceased's journey into the afterlife. Fairfield University's Bellarmine Museum of Art will explore this fascinating subject in its new exhibition, "Immortality of the Spirit: Chinese Art from the Han and Tang Dynasties," which features thirteen pottery funerary objects from the Han (206 BCE - 220 CE) and Tang (618 - 907 CE) Imperial dynasties. A small catalogue, co-authored by Mr. Swergold and Dr. Ive Covaci (Adjunct Professor of Art History at Fairfield University and a specialist in Asian Art), is available in the galleries.
The earliest Chinese tomb figures and furnishings date back to the Neolithic period (10,000 - 2,000 BCE). The popularity of such objects increased during the lengthy Han dynasty before reaching its zenith under the highly cosmopolitan Tang Dynasty. Considered one of the "golden ages" of Chinese civilization, the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE) was an era of relative peace, prosperity, and Imperial expansion, which was marked by great advances in poetry, music, calligraphy and the visual arts. Trade also flourished in the outward-looking Han Empire, which fell in 220 CE. Centuries of disunity followed until the 7th century, when the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 CE) ushered in another long period of stability and prosperity. Its capital, Chang'an (modern day Xi'an) was the largest and most sophisticated city in the world at that time, with a population (including immigrants from as far away as Persia and Syria) of some one million people in the mid-8th century. Art and culture flourished under the dynasty's extensive court patronage, and a new interest in naturalism was expressed in painting and sculpture, including funerary objects.
Clay tomb figurines proliferated in the Han Dynasty, replacing an earlier tradition of human and animal sacrifice. Despite this humane shift, the basic principle remained the same: everything needed in life was also needed in death, including horses, chariots, farm animals, guards, attendants, entertainers, and vessels for lavish banquets, as the pieces on display in the Bellarmine - including a Seated Story Teller and a Figure of a Dancer (both Han) - illustrate. These replicas, like all mingqi, were deliberately made to appear distinct from the "real thing" by alterations in material, color, size, technique, or function. It is by understanding this broader context that visitors to the Bellarmine can gain a deeper appreciation of the objects showcased in "Immortality of the Spirit ..." and the cultures that created them.
While personal possessions and items used in daily life could be interred with the dead, the majority of grave goods were created specifically for funerary purposes. Indeed burial figures and furnishings were exhibited during lavish funerary rites before being sealed in the tombs for which they were intended. These objects, like the tombs themselves, communicated the social status of the occupant. The wealthier the family, the more elaborate the tomb and the finer - and more numerous - the funerary objects that accompanied the deceased on his or her journey into the next world. Tombs were also seen as gateways to everlasting life. Thus, symbols of immortality commonly appear on Han and Tang funerary objects, such as the cloud-filled mountain landscape representing the abode of the immortals on the fine Hill Jar (Han Dynasty) exhibited in the museum's show.
The market for funerary goods was such that workshops had to rely on molds in order to keep pace with demand. Fine details on tomb figures and vessels were sometimes shaped by hand, but often decoration (such as that of the Green Glazed Jar, or Hu (Han Dynasty), at the Bellarmine) was also molded. Though the shapes of ceramic vessels, in particular, often echo metal prototypes, burial figures were made from a variety of media, including clay, jade, bronze, gold, silver, wood, textile, or stone. Clay objects, like the ones showcased at the Bellarmine, could be painted, unpainted, or glazed. Remarkable in this context is the stunning Sancai Glazed Horse (Tang Dynasty), on view in the museum's galleries. Sancai (or three color) glaze was applied to objects by dipping, pouring, and painting. Heads and extremities of figures were often left unglazed, so that details could be painted directly onto the earthenware. The presence of such objects in tombs was a mark of high status, and hence restricted to imperial and elite tombs.
The work of Tang artisans, in particular, reflects the influence of the many cultures with which they came into contact both in their capital city of Chang'an and elsewhere. It is not unusual, for example, to find exotic symbols, motifs and shapes more closely associated with the arts of India, Persia, Syria and even Greece in Tang art. The Pair of Sancai Glazed Grooms (Tang) on view at the Bellarmine, for example, have Persian facial features; apt reminders not only of the international flavor of this dynasty but also of the historical fact that the Tang emperors consolidated and maintained their martial power by importing horses - and horsemen - into China.
Artifacts like those in the Bellarmine Museum of Art's exhibition provide great insights into daily life during the Han and Tang Dynasties. They also remind us of how carefully orchestrated the burial rites and rituals were for a society with clearly delineated class hierarchies: the poor typically were buried with little more than small coins while the wealthy were accompanied by elaborate figures.
This exhibition has been made possible through the generosity of Jane and Leopold Swergold, who have lent both their objects and their expertise to this project. Further support was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities: because democracy demands wisdom.
From Italy to America: Photographs of Anthony Riccio
February 1, 2012 - March 30, 2012
For Anthony Riccio (b. 1952), a picture truly is worth a thousand words. For the past four decades, the New Haven, Connecticut, native has documented, in word and image, the experiences of Italians and Italian-Americans not only in Southern Italy - from Campania to Sicily - but also in two culturally rich immigrant communities in America, Boston's North End and New Haven's "Little Italy."
"From Italy to America - Photographs of Anthony Riccio" features twenty-six black and white photographs by Mr. Riccio in addition to audio clips excerpted from his lengthy interviews with his subjects as they reminisced about the changes they experienced and witnessed in their lives.
Through the often poignant, always engaging photographs and interviews of his subjects, Mr. Riccio delves deeply into the lives of those whom he documents. In Boston's North End, for example, he immortalizes the zampognari (singers with pastoral wind instruments) as they perform during the Christmas season. His New Haven images show people at work and play and also capture individuals engaged in moments of quiet reflection who share memories that define them both as individuals and as part of the larger Italian-American community. U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, whose district includes New Haven, CT, observes: "Anthony Riccio produces such a rich and emotional narrative of the Italian American Experience - both through his interviews and photographs that are timeless. I am sure this work will advance his lifetime project and give us insights that will not be lost."
Mr. Riccio's images of rural Southern Italy - an area that saw many of its inhabitants leave in search of the American dream - equally transport the viewer to another world, where captivating vistas and lively images of children are counterbalanced by the hardscrabble realities of an agrarian existence. His evocative view of an olive grove, with the cloud-shrouded hills of Faggiano looming in the distance, for example, is a bucolic counterpoint to his image of Naples, the abject buildings of which suggest a clear lack of financial prosperity. Italian American artist, educator and author writer B. Amore notes: "These are rare photographs of a people at one with village life on the point of change. The intimacy and directness of gaze could only be captured by a photographer like Anthony Riccio, who works with great respect for his subject matter and an authentic interest in his own heritage."
"From Italy to America - Photographs of Anthony Riccio" has been made possible through the generous support of Nestlé Waters North America, and its S. Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, which is sourced in the Italian Alps, and the National Endowment for the Humanities: because democracy demands wisdom.
James Prosek: Un-Natural History
October 21, 2011 - January 27, 2012
Artist, writer, and activist James Prosek made his authorial debut at age nineteen, when he was still an undergraduate at Yale University, with Trout: an Illustrated History (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996). This work established his reputation as a naturalist as well as a gifted artist, whose remarkably detailed watercolors reflect a seemingly boundless depth of talent. Prosek's paintings, which range from the compellingly realistic to the inventively fanciful, have been shown with the Gerald Peters Gallery (New York, NY and Santa Fe, NM); Meredith Long Gallery (Houston, TX); Wajahat/Ingrao (New York, NY); the d.u.m.b.o. arts center (Brooklyn, NY); Reynolds Gallery (Richmond, VA); the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, CT) and Yale's Whitney Humanities Center (New Haven, CT). Prosek's prowess as an artist is matched by his talent as a wordsmith. He has written for The New York Times as well as National Geographic Magazine, and won a Peabody Award in 2003 for his documentary about traveling through England in the footsteps of Izaak Walton, the seventeenth-century author of The Compleat Angler. Prosek's most recent book, Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World's Most Amazing and Mysterious Fish, was a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice. Prosek's work as both an artist and writer is marked by a critical probing of accepted taxonomies and naming conventions. He is particularly interested in exploring the ways in which language not only serves to organize the world around us, but also to reify extant hierarchies, thus fostering a sense of a “natural” order of things; an order that is, in fact, entirely illusory. The Bellarmine Museum of Art will explore these, and related, questions in James Prosek: Un-Natural History (October 21, 2011-December 21, 2011). Highlights of this dynamic exhibition, which provides a unique forum for cross-curricular initiatives at Fairfield University, include Prosek's captivating watercolors that illustrate these and other novel classificatory schemae as well as the artist's whimsical hybrid creatures, including Cockatool and Parrotfishe.
jeanne delarm-neri (mfa '12)
June 15 - September 15, 2011
ek•phra•sis. n.\'ek-frə-səs\. A literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art.
Poet and prose writer Jeanne DeLarm-Neri has created a series of new poems that respond to works in the Bellarmine Museum of Art's Permanent Collection. From a delicate 14th-century French ivory diptych to casts after masterworks from the Acropolis frieze, DeLarm-Neri engages with a broad cross-section of objects in the museum. In each instance, her writings give voice to a very personal aesthetic experience, which in turn provides visitors to the BMA with a new point of departure for their own interpretations and musings. DeLarm-Neri's poems will be displayed in the galleries next to the objects they address. They will also be posted on the BMA's website together with images of the relevant works.
Read Jeanne DeLarm-Neri's poems.
Kells to Clonmacnoise: Medieval Irish Art in Context
April 18 - May 24, 2011
This exhibition highlights the University's facsimile of the Book of Kells, and four reproductions of Irish medieval metalwork on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters. The Book of Kells is a lavishly decorated Irish gospel book, which contains colorful decorations on each calligraphic page, including several full page illustrations. Produced ca. 800 A.D. at the height of Irish monastic influence in Europe, it is a unique record of one of the most vital periods of Christian history from which few liturgical objects survive. This period, the so-called "Golden Age" of Irish art, was an era of rich cultural exchange when Irish and Continental monks helped to spread Christianity throughout the British Isles. Arts, in all media, combined pre-Christian Celtic and Germanic traditions with new Christian forms. Irish monasteries throughout the British Isles were centers of production for sumptuous manuscripts and finely crafted liturgical objects, as this show will make clear. View events related to this exhibition.
Norman Gorbaty: Works in Dialogue
January 27 - March 27, 2011
Over the span of his fifty year career as a graphic artist, Norman Gorbaty has produced a formidable body of work, including sculptures, paintings, and works on paper. A master of abstract empiricism, the artist's work is a testament to his pursuit of pure forms through observation and movement. Using emptiness as a symbol and minimalism as a style, Gorbaty transforms spaces into an evocative blend of mystery, freshness, and beauty. Works in Dialogue will run in tandem with Gorbaty's show of Judaica at the Thomas J. Walsh Gallery (To Honor My People), and will highlight the artist's smaller works on paper and his carved "stele."
Read more about the artist's drawings, and see images of works from his previously unpublished sketchbooks, in "Norman Gorbaty & the Legacy of Disegno."
Gifts from Athens: New Plaster Casts from the Acropolis Museum and Photographs by Socratis Mavrommatis
November 2 - December 17, 2010
This exhibition highlighted photographs by Socratis Mavrommatis, a prominent Greek photographer who gifted 23 works to the university in 2008, and 8 new plaster casts, given by the Acropolis Museum in Athens to Fairfield in July 2010. Mavrommatis's work focuses on the Acropolis, with an emphasis on the beauty and changing nature of monuments and the Athenian landscape. The plaster casts, in contrast, are evidence of the grandeur and monumentality of the Parthenon and other Acropolis sculptures, and remain symbols of the art and mythology of Ancient Greece. This show also explored Athenian "gifts" in the broader sense - that is, of antiquity's enduring legacy in the development and evolution of Western civilization's multi-faceted culture.
See our calendar of events relating to the exhibition and view the photo slide show of works in show.