Anonymous Art Lover’s Vast Collection of Mexican Revival Art ‘New Beginnings’ Ends at OKC
An anonymous art lover became so fascinated with the Land of Enchantment that he amassed a dazzling collection of paintings, sculptures, textiles, furniture and more.
And that’s just the backdrop to the magnificent exhibit “New Beginnings: An American History of the Romantics and Modernists of the West,” which concludes a three-year tour of six museums in the United States with a stop at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
“People came to me and said that show brought tears to their eyes.… It’s a gallery full of nine’s and ten’s. That’s how good the quality is. I mean , it’s really off the charts, “said Michael Grauer, McCasland President of the Museum’s Cowboy Culture. “It is difficult to assemble so many great works of art together in a coherent way, and it is always excellent throughout the exhibition and especially because of the different thematic areas.”
Presented until January 2 at the Oklahoma City institution, “New Beginnings” features more than 100 works from the Tia private collection in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The collection is named after the daughter of the anonymous collector who has collected it since 2007, when he first discovered New Mexico. –
“New Mexico is a special place. It’s called the land of enchantment for a reason, and people go there and fall in love with it. … It was the establishment of a few art colonies there. – down in the 1890s and early 1900s which really formed the basis of this collection, ”said Grauer, who is also the curator of the Cowboys and Western Art Collections at the National Cowboy Museum.
“This is one of the finest collections of New Mexico art that I have seen in 35 years.”
Ranging from portraits and still lifes to landscapes and three-dimensional works, “New Beginnings” covers a century of Mexican Revival art, with pieces dating from the 1880s to the 1980s.
“You go through the whole gamut of pretty traditional artwork… which we’re used to seeing associated with the Taos and Santa Fe art settlements to very, very daring and daring works that are much more modern,” Grauer said. .
The exhibition features works by acclaimed New Mexican artists Ernest L. Blumenschein, Walter Ufer, Agnes C. Sims, E. Martin Hennings, and Leon Gaspard.
“This is probably one of the finest shows we’ve had at The Cowboy in many, many years. I’ve been to this gallery countless times, and every time I go back, I pick a finalist for my favorite – and it’s always different, ”said museum president and CEO Natalie Shirley, adding that Kenneth Adams’ 1937 portrait of“ Juanita ”is her favorite.
Here are seven more highlights to see from “New Beginnings” before he leaves OKC:
1. “The Dance of Women” by Dorothy Brett (1952)
Born into British nobility, Brett (1883-1977) took dance lessons at Windsor Castle as a child and had her first date with Winston Churchill. She attended Slade Art School, where she studied with Augustus John and befriended George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, and Aldous Huxley.
In 1924, she visited Taos with the famous novelist DH Lawrence and his wife, Frieda. Upon their return to England, Brett remained in New Mexico, where she lived and worked as an artist for the rest of her life.
Her fascination with American Indians is said to have started as a child when she saw “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show” in London, and she is perhaps best known for her paintings of Taos Native American culture, in particular its evocative depictions of Pueblo dances. As biographer Pamela Hall Evans noted in “Remarkable Women of Taos,” Brett tried to paint “their inner and outer selves” by describing Native Americans.
2. “Untitled” by Patrocino Barela (1930)
One of the Hispanic artists in the exhibit, Barela was “a rock star at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the 1930s,” Grauer said.
“New Beginnings” includes several examples of the self-taught woodcarver’s work, but his 1930 piece “Untitled,” which could function as an oversized footstool, is arguably the most eye-catching.
3. “Rodeo Rider” by Jan Matulka (circa 1917-20)
Born in Bohemia (in what would later become Czechoslovakia), this painter and printmaker arrived in the United States as a teenager and studied at the curator National Academy of Design. After graduating in 1917, Matulka (1890-1972) toured the country for a year as the first recipient of the Joseph Pulitzer National Travel Fellowship.
The modern artist was particularly drawn to the native and Hispanic cultures of the Southwest, which he represented in stylized geometric works. In “Rodeo Rider” he paints an iconic figure of the West in the style of a circus or vaudeville poster.
4. “Camino del Monte Sol, Santa Fe” by Beulah Stevenson (1947)
It’s hard to imagine a huge art exhibit being held in New Mexico and around New Mexico without beautiful scenery, and “New Beginnings” has an entire section devoted to “Earth and Sky.” But Stevenson’s colorful abstract canvas stands out.
Brooklyn painter and printmaker Stevenson (1890-1965) studied with John Sloan at the Art Students League in New York as well as with abstract expressionist Hans Hoffman in Provincetown, Massachusetts, joining the Santa Fe Art Colony during the are.
“One of the things about women artists that really stood out in this exhibition… was that women were much more willing to take risks with their art than men,” said Grauer. “Because women often had to reinvent their art over and over again, they tried new things and were much more avant-garde than the men, who tended to play it safe.”
5. “The Fourth Saint” by Henriette Wyeth (1983)
Daughter of famous illustrator NC Wyeth and sister of famous painter Andrew Wyeth, Henriette Wyeth (1907-1997) is best known for her portraits, especially her resemblance to The First Lady Pat Nixon in the White House Collection, and his still lifes such as the beautifully intriguing “Le Quatrième Saint”.
Child prodigy, Wyeth grew up in Pennsylvania, but moved to New Mexico in the 1930s after marrying fellow artist Peter Hurd and living there the rest of her life.
6. “Our Lady of Guadalupe” by Frank Applegate (1924)
It wouldn’t be a true exhibition of Neo-Mexican art without the Virgin of Guadalupe, and Applegate’s (1881-1931) portrayal of the Catholic “Patron Saint of All the Americas” is particularly striking.
7. “Lucinda” by Robert Henri (1917)
The Mexican girl depicted in the portrait of Henri (1865-1929) seems almost too real to be a mere painting. In a 1917 letter to her mother, the artist describes Lucinda as “a beautiful little saffron queen of about six years old. Last year she wasn’t keen on posing but this year she likes to come ”, especially since the portrait painter was playing music on his Victrola for her.
“Lucinda” is one of more than 170 portraits that Henry painted at three expanded residences in Santa Fe in 1916, 1917, and 1922, but they were rarely exhibited during his lifetime, despite his fame.
“New Beginnings: An American History of Romantics and Modernists in the West”
When: Until January 2.
Or: National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63.