The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College’s art museum, announces its acquisition of several works by Poughkeepsie artist Thomas Barrett from the Barrett Art Center.
Barrett (1902-1947), an important Hudson Valley artist, embraced realism and everyday subject matter, especially local scenes of the city, joining the trendy art movement of the 1930s and early 1940s called the American Scene. As did many artists then, he became a muralist, completing panels for Millbrook High School and competing to paint murals for the Poughkeepsie Post Office. In 1935 Barrett and other local artists met at his home and established the Dutchess County Art Association in order to cultivate a local appreciation of art. The group also promoted exhibition opportunities for artists and aimed to connect with the life of the community. In 1974, when the home was donated to the Art Association (now known as the Barrett Art Center), it became a center for art exhibitions and classes.
Because the Barrett Art Center is not a collecting institution, staff there sought assistance from the Lehman Loeb Art Center’s curator of prints and drawings, Patricia Phagan, in assessing the works of art and making recommendations for their maintenance, which included donating some works by Barrett to institutions that could conserve them.
This fall the Lehman Loeb Art Center took possession of eight works, including mural studies for the Poughkeepsie Post Office, and woodcuts and the actual woodblocks from which they were printed of two Vassar campus buildings, Main Building and the Chapel. The woodcuts are proofs of early states, meaning the artist printed the woodblocks at early stages to see how his ideas of the prints were coming along. They show the artist’s thinking process and are invaluable for teaching. The Lehman Loeb already had the completed, published prints in the collection. (A full checklist is available here.)
“Because Barrett was such a notable local artist and supporter of the arts in Poughkeepsie, we were quite happy to be able to acquire these works,” said Phagan, the Philip and Lynn Straus Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Lehman Loeb Art Center. “Moreover, these purchases are instrumental in strengthening our collection of American art of the 1930s and 1940s, especially our trove of preparatory studies for murals.”
“The Barrett Center is thrilled that Thomas Barrett’s legacy and work will have a permanent home at the Lehman Loeb,” said Ursula Morgan, former executive director and current board member of the Barrett Center, who served as consultant on this project. “The works, which represent important Poughkeepsie history, should be conserved and made more readily available to the public and now they will be.”
Some of these works will be on view as part of the Lehman Loeb Art Center’s fall 2016 exhibition, Celebrating Heroes: American Mural Studies of the 1930s and 1940s from the Hirsch Collection.
About the Barrett Art Center
The Barrett Art Center is housed in the 1830s Greek Revival home of Thomas Barrett, which was donated to the Dutchess County Art Association in 1974 and converted to an art center and home of the association. The house, with its intricately designed moldings and marbled fireplaces, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Although the official name of the organization remains unchanged, it gradually took on the name of the building, so the association is now commonly referred to as the Barrett Art Center.
This building is the heart of the association and is still used for administrative purposes. It also provides a meeting place for art enthusiasts and artists alike to view, exhibit, discuss, create, and learn about art. The Center hosts a changing exhibition program devoted to fine contemporary and traditional works of art. Prestigious national juried shows in contemporary art (New Directions) and photography (Photowork) have each been held annually at the Art Center for more than 20 years, attracting hundreds of submissions from across the country. Other events held annually at the Center include shows featuring works by members and by the Center’s faculty and students, as well as topical shows. The Barrett Art Center also provides space for classes.
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. 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. The Art Center's collections chart the history of art from antiquity to the present and comprise over 20,000 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.
Admission to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is free and all galleries are wheelchair accessible. The Art Center is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 10:00am–5:00pm; Thursday, 10:00am–9:00pm; and Sunday, 1:00–5:00pm. 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. For additional information, the public may call (845) 437-5632 or visit fllac.vassar.edu.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.