Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Revisiting "Generations of the Washington Color School"

A lot has been written about the Washington Color School, by us and by others.  Some of the best known modern Washington artists were members or associated with the group - ames such as Gene Davis, Tom Downing, and Paul Reed. As important as they are to the history of art in Washington, D.C., it’s no surprise that their work is heavily represented in the GW Collection, shown in a number of exhibitions in the Dimock Gallery and the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery, and some of our favorites to highlight.

Installation view of "Generations of the Washington Color School"

Generations of the Washington Color School (June 7 - August 10, 1984) sought to show the continuation of the movement twenty years down the road, exhibiting works by the original members with their artistic protégés who were continuing in an exploration of color.  
Consisting of works from the GW Collection and others borrowed from artists and collectors, the exhibition in the Dimock Gallery included such highly regarded artists as Howard Mehring, Leon Berkowitz, Kenneth Noland, Sheila Isham, Willem de Looper, Michael Clark and others.  

Installation view of "Generations of the Washington Color School"

Now on view as part of Expansive Visions: GW Collection Past, Present, Future in the GW Museum and The Textile Museum are some familiar names and some familiar pieces. Isham’s Kuai and Alma Thomas’s Nature’s Red Impressions make repeat performances, sharing walls with more recent acquisitions by Susan Roth and Robin Rose. Sam Gilliam and Gene Davis are represented by newer works to the collection, the Untitled painting by Davis is more compact physically and visually than the ones included in Generations, while Gilliam’s Uguisu is the largest work in the collection!

Not to be forgotten, Michael Clark’s Beaux-Arts Windows is making a surprise appearance in our Pop-up display in 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue.  On view with three other works by DC artists, the arrangement aims to interrupt passers-by with an unexpected glimpse at the GW Collection while going about their day.  

See Expansive Visions, on view at the GW Museum and The Textile Museum, and visit our Pop-up in 2000 Penn through the end of the summer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Makonde Tree of Life: Update #4

UPDATE #4: Lost and Found


Have you ever had to make a phone call and start it with “Please bear with me, this will make sense in a minute.”  After repeatedly explaining to the woman who answered my phone call at Morehouse College that I was trying to reach the President of that college, I was finally directed to his assistant who patiently listened to my story again.  


“I understand, that sounds like something Dr. Wilson owns.”  I was asked to email a picture and the story again and she would check for me.  


Two days later I got an email from Morehouse.  “Dr. Wilson would like to speak with you today, are you available?”  I wasn’t, but I made time.  


“Hello? Olivia?  You found my piece!”  


We had found the owner of the Makonde Tree of Life!  Turns out it wasn’t a Found In Collection after all, but an artwork accidentally left behind.  He didn’t have much time but I was able to get a bit of the story on the work from Dr. Wilson before he had to go.


On a trip to Tanzania, Dr. Wilson saw examples of Makonde carvings and bought a few on that trip to be shipped back to the United States.  He kept in touch with one of the carvers who came to the U.S. every few years and he believes our piece was purchased from the artist in New York.  He has several other Makonde works, a few that are very large, but none quite like this one.  


Confirming that the work was made of ebony root wood, Dr. Wilson said it symbolizes how “As we cooperate and work together, the community grows.”  


The work had been in his office at GW and when he left to work for the White House in 2009 he had asked that it be moved with the rest of his things, but it somehow got left behind. He thought it had been lost in the move and was overjoyed when he got the email from us. I told him that a few offices had expressed an interest in showing the work and he got quiet. “Olivia, I wish I could give it to you but for sentimental reasons I can’t. It was in my office at MIT. It was in my office at GW. I would love to have it here in my office at Morehouse.”  


Although we’ve solved the mystery of where this piece came from, who it belongs to, and where it’s going, we still have more questions to be answered - and only a few short weeks to find out.

Makonde Tree of Life: Update #3

UPDATE #3: Questions, questions


We frequently host classes from School Without Walls high school nearby.  Known for their energetic and inquisitive students I thought they would be a great fit to help me with our Makonde research project.  

Using the Project Zero Thinking Routine “See, Think, Wonder” we explored the Makonde Tree of Life.  Each student had a Post-it for each category and we put them up on the cases at the end to discuss.  I saved all of the “Wonder” Post-its to guide my inquiries.  This photo includes just a few of them.  As you can see, we’ve got a lot to do!


Some of the questions that came up over and over:

  • What does it mean?  
  • What does it represent?  
  • Is there a message?  
  • What is the story it’s telling?
  • When was it made?  
  • Who made it?  
  • How many people did it take to make?  
  • How did they make it?
  • Why was it left?
  • Is it completed?
  • Why was it created?
  • What is the inspiration?
  • Who was the intended audience?


Here’s hoping we can find out the answers to some of our questions!

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Covering exhibits at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery and giving you a peek into the Permanent Collection of the George Washington University.

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Howard Hodgkin: Paintings - May 16, 2012

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Revisiting "Generations of the Washington Color School"

A lot has been written about the Washington Color School, by us and by others.  Some of the best known modern Washington artists were members or associated with the group - ames such as Gene Davis, Tom Downing, and Paul Reed. As important as they are to the history of art in Washington, D.C., it’s no surprise that their work is heavily represented in the GW Collection, shown in a number of exhibitions in the Dimock Gallery and the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery, and some of our favorites to highlight.

Installation view of "Generations of the Washington Color School"

Generations of the Washington Color School (June 7 - August 10, 1984) sought to show the continuation of the movement twenty years down the road, exhibiting works by the original members with their artistic protégés who were continuing in an exploration of color.  
Consisting of works from the GW Collection and others borrowed from artists and collectors, the exhibition in the Dimock Gallery included such highly regarded artists as Howard Mehring, Leon Berkowitz, Kenneth Noland, Sheila Isham, Willem de Looper, Michael Clark and others.  

Installation view of "Generations of the Washington Color School"

Now on view as part of Expansive Visions: GW Collection Past, Present, Future in the GW Museum and The Textile Museum are some familiar names and some familiar pieces. Isham’s Kuai and Alma Thomas’s Nature’s Red Impressions make repeat performances, sharing walls with more recent acquisitions by Susan Roth and Robin Rose. Sam Gilliam and Gene Davis are represented by newer works to the collection, the Untitled painting by Davis is more compact physically and visually than the ones included in Generations, while Gilliam’s Uguisu is the largest work in the collection!

Not to be forgotten, Michael Clark’s Beaux-Arts Windows is making a surprise appearance in our Pop-up display in 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue.  On view with three other works by DC artists, the arrangement aims to interrupt passers-by with an unexpected glimpse at the GW Collection while going about their day.  

See Expansive Visions, on view at the GW Museum and The Textile Museum, and visit our Pop-up in 2000 Penn through the end of the summer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Makonde Tree of Life: Update #4

UPDATE #4: Lost and Found


Have you ever had to make a phone call and start it with “Please bear with me, this will make sense in a minute.”  After repeatedly explaining to the woman who answered my phone call at Morehouse College that I was trying to reach the President of that college, I was finally directed to his assistant who patiently listened to my story again.  


“I understand, that sounds like something Dr. Wilson owns.”  I was asked to email a picture and the story again and she would check for me.  


Two days later I got an email from Morehouse.  “Dr. Wilson would like to speak with you today, are you available?”  I wasn’t, but I made time.  


“Hello? Olivia?  You found my piece!”  


We had found the owner of the Makonde Tree of Life!  Turns out it wasn’t a Found In Collection after all, but an artwork accidentally left behind.  He didn’t have much time but I was able to get a bit of the story on the work from Dr. Wilson before he had to go.


On a trip to Tanzania, Dr. Wilson saw examples of Makonde carvings and bought a few on that trip to be shipped back to the United States.  He kept in touch with one of the carvers who came to the U.S. every few years and he believes our piece was purchased from the artist in New York.  He has several other Makonde works, a few that are very large, but none quite like this one.  


Confirming that the work was made of ebony root wood, Dr. Wilson said it symbolizes how “As we cooperate and work together, the community grows.”  


The work had been in his office at GW and when he left to work for the White House in 2009 he had asked that it be moved with the rest of his things, but it somehow got left behind. He thought it had been lost in the move and was overjoyed when he got the email from us. I told him that a few offices had expressed an interest in showing the work and he got quiet. “Olivia, I wish I could give it to you but for sentimental reasons I can’t. It was in my office at MIT. It was in my office at GW. I would love to have it here in my office at Morehouse.”  


Although we’ve solved the mystery of where this piece came from, who it belongs to, and where it’s going, we still have more questions to be answered - and only a few short weeks to find out.

Makonde Tree of Life: Update #3

UPDATE #3: Questions, questions


We frequently host classes from School Without Walls high school nearby.  Known for their energetic and inquisitive students I thought they would be a great fit to help me with our Makonde research project.  

Using the Project Zero Thinking Routine “See, Think, Wonder” we explored the Makonde Tree of Life.  Each student had a Post-it for each category and we put them up on the cases at the end to discuss.  I saved all of the “Wonder” Post-its to guide my inquiries.  This photo includes just a few of them.  As you can see, we’ve got a lot to do!


Some of the questions that came up over and over:

  • What does it mean?  
  • What does it represent?  
  • Is there a message?  
  • What is the story it’s telling?
  • When was it made?  
  • Who made it?  
  • How many people did it take to make?  
  • How did they make it?
  • Why was it left?
  • Is it completed?
  • Why was it created?
  • What is the inspiration?
  • Who was the intended audience?


Here’s hoping we can find out the answers to some of our questions!

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About

Washington, District of Columbia, United States
"Found In Collection" or simply "FIC" is the way many museums classify the more mysterious items in their possession that have little or no documentation. Here at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery of the George Washington University, we do keep extensive records of our collection, but some of the items we come across in academic buildings or our own storage can leave us wondering. This blog is an effort to showcase some of the more curious examples and their stories, and to provide a glimpse of the great variety of art pieces within the collection. To learn more about the Brady Gallery's history, recent exhibitions, or the George Washington University, take a look at the links below.

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