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Paper + People is a blog about the Smith College Museum of Art’s collection of over 18,000 prints, drawings, and photographs. Here you will find a diverse array of posts written by museum staff, students, scholars, and other paper enthusiasts about anything pertaining to the collection.

Any works you see featured here are available to view by appointment.

  • Friday, April 29, 2016

    Artists Through Each Other’s Eyes

    The Smith College Museum of Art is dedicated to bringing out works on paper into the main galleries, where all visitors can see them. Since works on paper are more sensitive to light than other mediums, SCMA has installed special Works on Paper cabinets throughout the galleries for the display of prints, drawings and photographs. Today’s post is part of a series about the current installations of the Works on Paper cabinets, which will remain on view through July 2016.

    Guest blogger and curator Renee Klann is a Smith College student, class of 2019. She is the 2015-2017 STRIDE Scholar in the Cunningham Center for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.

    You may recognize the work of certain artists, but would you recognize the artists themselves? A Works on Paper cabinet on the third floor of the museum is currently displaying examples of the ways artists have captured each other’s appearances through portraits. The works include both famous figures like Pablo Picasso and others, like Charles Drouet, who are not as well-known. Regardless of the subjects’ fame, these portraits allow us to see artists from new and sometimes surprising perspectives.

     

    Jacques Villon (Gaston Duchamp), French, 1875-1963; after Juan Gris, Spanish, 1887-1927. Portrait of Pablo Picasso, n.d. Etching printed in red/brown on paper. Gift of David R. Pesuit, PhD. SC 2009:32

     

    James Abbott McNeill Whistler, American, 1834-1903. Drouet Sculpteur, 1859. Drypoint printed in black on paper. Bequest of Henry L. Seaver. SC 1976:54-105

     

    Portraits are not only depictions of a person’s appearance; they can also record relationships between the artists themselves, whether they were friends, mentor and student, or admirers of each other’s work. For example, Georges Daniel de Monfreid became a close friend of Paul Gauguin’s when they were living in Paris. After Gauguin moved to Tahiti, the two stayed in touch by writing letters, sharing their achievements and struggles. De Monfreid depicted Gauguin in a print, capturing his tired expression and the cigarette dangling from his fingers. This image presents Gauguin, an artist who felt misunderstood by the art establishment, from a unique, sympathetic perspective.

    Georges Daniel de Monfreid, French, 1956-1929. Paul Gauguin, n.d. Wood engraving printed in color on Japan paper. Gift of Selma Erving, class of 1927. SC 1975:24-1

    In contrast to de Monfreid, Leonard Baskin made images of deceased artists to honor their talent and character. The portrait of Edvard Munch suggests his troubled psychological state through his uneven eyes and scratchy shading, as well as the way his face hovers against a deep black background. Although Baskin’s print is unsettling, it’s a compassionate portrayal of an artist with mental illness.

     

    Leonard Baskin, American, 1922-2000. Munch, 1964. Etching and aquatint printed in black on heavyweight cream-colored Rives BFK paper. Gift of Leanna Y. Brown, class of 1956. SC 2012:77

     

    Although they vary in style and time period, the portraits in the cabinet all reveal intriguing aspects of artists and the interactions between them. Stop by the museum to see them for yourself!

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  • Friday, April 22, 2016

    Collaboration with the Spatial Analysis Lab

    Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Italian, 1720-1778. Arch of Titus from Vedute di Roma, 1748-1780. Etching. Yale University Art Gallery. The Arthur Ross Collection. 2012.159.11.98

    This fall, the Smith College Museum of Art will be opening the exhibition When in Rome: Prints & Photographs, 1550–1900. Using prints and photographs from both our own collection and that of the Yale University Art Gallery, When in Rome is a historical tour of the city's most renowned monuments, showing the many ways they have been pictured over time. This collaboration is a part of Yale's Collection-Sharing Initiative, which aims to lend works to academic museums to foster creativity and increase access to original art. 

    Gioacchino Altobelli. Italian, 1820 or 1830-after 1878. Arch of Titus, Rome, ca.1860. Albumen print. Purchased with Hillyer-Tryon-Mather Fund, with funds given in memory of Nancy Newhall (Nancy Parker, class of 1930) and in honor of Beaumont Newhall, and with funds given in honor of Ruth Wedgwood Kennedy. SC 1982:38-115

    In a similar interdisciplinary spirit, the museum is teaming up with the Spatial Analysis Lab here at Smith to find the best ways to put these images in both spatial and historical contexts. Karen Yu '16, a student assistant at the SAL, has written a blog post on their work with us, including some examples of interactive maps we may use as a counterpart to the exhibition. Check it out--and get excited to see the show in the fall!

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  • Thursday, April 7, 2016

    Gladys Engel Lang: Scholar, Author, and Collector

    We are saddened to report the passing of Gladys Engel Lang on March 23, 2016.

    Born in 1919 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Gladys Engel studied sociology at the University of Michigan and the University of Washington, Seattle, before entering government service, working in Office of War Information from 1942-1943, then later in the Office of Strategic Services (a predecessor to the CIA) from 1943-1949. She entered a doctoral program in sociology at the University of Chicago in 1949, where she met and married fellow student Kurt Lang.

    Gladys Engel Lang and Kurt Lang on their wedding day, June, 1950

    In the early 1950s, the Langs began their productive careers as collaborators, authoring the ground-breaking study “The Unique Perspective of Television and Its Effect: A Pilot Study,” in which they documented how television coverage shapes and effects how viewers understand and react to events. Decades of fruitful collaborations followed, including their 1990 book Etched in Memory: The Building and Survival of Artistic Reputation. This study focused on the painter-etcher movement between the 1860s and World War II, seeking to understand the process whereby some artists but not others come to be considered worth remembering. In 2014, the Langs made an important gift of 1,446 prints and drawings to SCMA. This collection has been the subject of several installations at the Museum over the past two years, and will be featured in an upcoming special exhibition.

    Gladys Engel Lang and Kurt Lang, 2015

    Gladys Engel Lang had a particular interest in the study of forgotten women etchers, and the Lang Collection is rich in examples of little-known talented printmakers such as Greta Delleany, Bertha Gorst, Sylvia Gosse, Catherine M. Nichols, Constance M. Pott, Marjorie Sherlock Gabrielle de Vaux Clements, Blanche Dillaye, Edith Loring Peirce Getchell, Bertha Jacques, Katherine Merrill, and Mary Nimmo Moran, among others.

    Sir Frank Short (English, 1857 – 1945). Low Tide and the Evening Star and Rye’s Long Pier Deserted, 1888. Etching printed in black on medium weight, slightly textured, cream-colored paper. The Gladys Engel Lang and Kurt Lang Collection. Promised gift. SC TR 7604.512.

    We are grateful to Gladys and the Lang family for entrusting SCMA with the legacy of their work in the form of the prints, drafts, and research for the Etched in Memory project. SCMA is committed to making these vital documents available to generations of scholars and students so that they may continue to study and extend the Langs’ research.

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