University art professor to speak and sign latest work at Fairfield University Bookstore
(Posted on March 02, 2012) Fairfield University art history professor and acclaimed author Philip Eliasoph, Ph.D., will discuss and sign copies of his latest work, "Colleen Browning: The Enchantment of Realism," (Hudson Hills Press, 2012) on Sunday, March 25 at 2 p.m. at the Fairfield University Bookstore, 1499 Post Road, Fairfield. The event is free and open to the public.
Dr. Eliasoph's latest book details the dramatic and prolific life and 70-year career of Browning, a British native who arrived in New York City during the tumultuous art scene of the early 1950s. Though Abstract/Action painting was on the ascendance, Browning quickly rose to prominence at the top ranks of the Magic Realists, joining such admired artists as Paul Cadmus, Andrew Wyeth and Robert Vickrey. Withstanding the pressure of avant-guardism, she explored the human condition through urban street scenes and later life abroad on the Caribbean island of Grenada.
During her long and varied career, she depicted everything from subway scenes and romantic fairytales to mystics, clairvoyants and dreamers. Her body of work - spanning five decades - won her critical acclaim, including the coveted Carnegie International Award.
Despite her obvious talent and impressive body of work, Browning has been almost forgotten in contemporary times. That's where Dr. Eliasoph comes in: He has long championed the art of the Magic Realists by both researching and writing about their work and launching retrospectives that brought them back into the forefront of international art discussion. He is the author of Robert Vickrey: The Magic of Realism (Hudson Hills Press, 2009) and Paul Cadmus: Yesterday & Today (Miami University Art Museum, 1981).
"I guess this latest monographic book project is best explained as yet another one of the hidden gems - American artists who were once critically acclaimed - who ended up falling by the wayside," Dr. Eliasoph noted. "Inspired by so many of these superbly talented, multi-talented mid-century painters, my professional task has been to restore these artists - Paul Cadmus, Robert Vickrey, and now Colleen Browning - to their original positions as creative dynamos. In the era dominated by avant-gardism, I take comfort offering a second look at more traditional figurative painters whose pursuit of beauty was ridiculed. The post-modernist mindset - which exalts cultural anarchy bereft of academic, intellectual or technical standards - usually dismissed artists like Browning as somewhat uncouth, a bit archaic, essentially 'un-cool' or hopelessly passé."
In part because of Dr. Eliasoph's book, the art world is once again paying attention to Browning's deft style and prowess. The Pennsylvania-based Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, which is the country's largest repository of her work, has organized a retrospective of some of her most beloved paintings, which opens May 24 at the National Academy of Design in New York City. The traveling exhibit will be on display at Fairfield University's Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery from January 24 through March 24, 2013 with a related exhibition of Browning's early works on campus at Fairfield's Bellarmine Museum of Art.
Dr. Eliasoph was appointed Fairfield's first full-time art history faculty member in 1975 and has taught undergraduates, graduates and lifetime learners in the classroom, on museum trips and on cultural tours in the U.S. and Europe. He is founder/moderator of the popular Open VISIONS Forum and received the Fairfield Alumni Association's Distinguished Faculty Award in 2008. Dr. Eliasoph holds a bachelor's degree from Adelphi University and a master's and Ph.D. from the State University New York, Binghamton.
Vol. 44, No. 205