On view: February 3 – April 23, 2017
Opening Reception: February 3, 2017 | 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Learn more & RSVP
An intimate collection of American masterworks from the Old Jail Art Center (OJAC) in Albany, TX, Modernist Masters, Contemporary Icons includes works by the most highly acclaimed American artists in history.
Work by American greats like Grant Wood, Alexander Calder, and Thomas Hart Benton will be presented for the first time at The Rockwell. Other artists, familiar to The Rockwell’s collection like Fritz Scholder, John Marin and Andy Warhol, are also included – providing a new dialogue with The Rockwell’s own modernist watercolors, works on paper, and sculpture.
Comprised of 33 modernist works of landscape, portraiture, nudes, modern life stills and wildlife, this exhibition celebrates the work of the most honored American art masters of our time.
The modern visions of the American landscape with subjects ranging from depictions of the desert southwest to the Maine coast are presented in various manners by a range of artists. Yet the dynamic application and handling of media often supersedes the modern artist’s need for a convincing pictorial space. Many landscapes verge on becoming non-objective abstractions, emphasizing the emotive and dynamic powers of brushstroke, color, line, and other formal qualities. The accurate depiction of a scene is secondary—simply serving as a means to an end in order to enforce the concept of art for art’s sake.
The representation of the human figure varies within the collection. The traditional approach of accurately recording the human body stands in stark contrast to more expressive likenesses. An elegant drawing of a human nude reflects the controlled skills of an artist while expressive gestures elicit more emotive responses from the viewer. Other times, simple to enigmatic narratives that provoke interpretation are created by the placement of the human figure in a landscape, engagement with other figures, or the utilization of simple props.
The landscape and human figure are prevalent subjects in the OJAC’s modern and contemporary painting, drawing, print, and sculpture collections as well as those selected for inclusion in this exhibition that span 100 years of artistic creation.
Like The Rockwell Museum, many art institutions begin humbly and manifest themselves by the desire of individuals to share their holdings with the public. So it was in 1980 with the Old Jail Art Center’s founders Bill Bomar (1919 – 1991) and Reilly Nail (1920 – 2006). Both were born in Albany, Texas—a small rural town rich in history, ranching, and the new wealth of oil. Both had the financial means to attend prestigious schools and begin collecting art. Upon graduation from Cranbrook Art Academy, Bill Bomar moved to New York City to study with John Sloan, Hans Hoffman, and Amédée Ozenfant. While working and living in NYC, Bomar began to collect domestically scaled paintings, prints, drawings, and sculpture of European and American Modern artists whom he admired and influenced his own artwork. Later, Bomar moved to Taos, New Mexico and collected the works of artists active in the New Mexico region. Reilly Nail graduated from Princeton University and had an award-winning career in New York City working as a television producer. From his college years on, he purchased art from galleries as well as from artist friends. Without a concern of purchasing art as an investment, both founders collected works that they individually responded to including young contemporary artists they befriended and supported.
The OJAC maintains a diverse collection of Modern American and European masters as well as works by well- and lesser-known contemporary artists. Over the past 35 years, the OJAC art collection has grown through gifts and purchases, continuing the approach established by Bomar and Nail of adding to complement and enhance established collections, while supporting contemporary artists through collecting and exhibiting their work.
Reproduction, including downloading of Andy Warhol works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
This program season at The Rockwell brings a series of exhibitions and special programs centered on the ever-changing and complex American experience. As the only conduit to Smithsonian resources in Upstate NY, we are excited to not only bring you nationally relevant topics to a local stage, but just as thrilled to present nationally renowned experts from the Smithsonian network.Reserve Your Seat