POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — As a number of key works from the permanent collection are on tour in a major exhibition in Japan, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center (FLLAC) curators decided to review rarely seen paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, and sculptures in the museum’s storage vaults in order to present a sampling of works that have not been on view in recent years. In addition to the works now on display in the Permanent Collection Galleries, this new exhibition gives viewers the chance to further their knowledge of the almost 18,000 objects in the permanent collection of the Art Center.
From November 7, 2008, through January 4, 2009, the exhibition Revealed Anew: Selections from the Permanent Collection will present approximately 40 of these important works and will be on display in the Prints and Drawings Galleries of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. Co-curating the exhibition are Patricia Phagan, the Philip and Lynn Straus Curator of Prints and Drawings, and Mary-Kay Lombino, Emily Hargroves Fisher ’57 and Richard B. Fisher Curator.
“The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar has one of the earliest major Hudson River School painting collections in the country,” stated Phagan. “Beginning with Matthew Vassar’s initial gift of a few hundred American and Hudson River School paintings and 3,000 English drawings and prints, the permanent collection has remained a vital part of teaching at the college.”
In the years since Matthew Vassar established the college’s collection, other large gifts, Phagan noted, “have stimulated and provided new directions for the permanent collection and for teaching. For instance, Italian baroque paintings given in the early 20th century, and the Felix Warburg Collection of Old Master Prints given in the early 1940s made possible the study of high-quality original works of art from these periods on campus. Also in the 20th century, numerous gifts of modern works by Vassar alumnae/i enriched the collection further, providing new and vital areas of study for students, scholars, and the public at large.
Even photography, a new medium in the 19th century, was part of Matthew Vassar’s initial gift in 1864, and through steady gifts and purchases photography now numbers almost 3,000 works in the permanent collection.
Revealed Anew pulls from these sources and others, concentrating on late 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century American and European art. Several of the works are drawings or prints, which, due to their light-sensitive nature, can only be displayed for short periods of time. Many other works have not been presented in recent years because of space limitations in the galleries or because of other curatorial priorities. Phagan emphasized that, “this is an opportunity for viewers to delve further into the many-layered collection of the Art Center and discover its diverse depths.”
Richard Westall’s heroic Ajax Defying the Lightning, that Phagan noted is a “deft study in opaque watercolor. It was preparatory to a print published for a book of illustrative plates of Shakespeare by the prolific English publisher John Boydell.”  The watercolor will be accompanied by an early, vibrant, graphite and chalk study by Benjamin West for Lot Fleeing from Sodom, of 1810. West’s oil on panel, for which this work is the study, is now in the permanent collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. West was an American expatriate artist and director of the Royal Academy in London when the work was executed.
The Art Center’s 20th-century collection will be represented with works including Pablo Picasso’s powerful print, Blind Minotaur, of 1934, from the Vollard Suite, rendered during a desperate period in the artist’s personal life.
Also in the exhibition will be the snowy Winter View from Newburgh, of 1856, by Hudson River School painter Louis Rémy Mignot, and two etchings, Sir Francis Seymour Haden’s velvety A Sunset in Ireland, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Greenwich Pensioner, part of the major Warburg Collection donated to the college in 1941.
Artist Elizabeth Rebecca Coffin, a member of Vassar's undergraduate class of 1870, gave to the college her Study of a Head, an elegant oil painting. Coffin, an American realist painter based in Brooklyn and Nantucket, studied drawing and painting at Vassar with Henry Van Ingen, the college’s first professor of art. Notably, Coffin went on to receive from Vassar the first master of arts degree in fine art in America, with her thesis, “The Progress of Art in Ancient Times.” She also trained in painting and drawing at The Hague in the Netherlands and with Thomas Eakins at the Brooklyn Art Association and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Exhibition reception and curatorial tour
Free and open to the public, part of the "Late Night at the Lehman Loeb" series.
Thursday, November 13, 6:00 pm
Exhibition tour led by co-curator Patricia Phagan
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie
(845) 437-5632, http://fllac.vassar.edu
About the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
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 Lehman Loeb Art Center's collections chart the history of art from antiquity to the present and comprise almost 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.
Admission to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is free. The art center is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm; Thursday, 10:00 am–9:00 pm; and Sunday, 1:00–5:00 pm. Located at the entrance to the historic Vassar College campus, the Art Center can be reached within minutes from other Mid-Hudson cultural attractions, such as Dia:Beacon, the Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt national historic sites and homes, and the Vanderbilt mansion. The Art Center is wheelchair accessible. For more information, the public may call (845) 437-5632 or visit http://fllac.vassar.edu.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.