Last call! #OceanLiners stunning art deco and modernism exhibition Peabody Essex Museum

 gorgeous Stanley Spencer, panel from Titanic, and so much more!

CLOSES OCT 9. There’s still time to catch one of the best shows of the year before it sails to London! Forget the theme and be ready to be continually swept off your feet by a who’s who of 20th century art and design, history, and one of a kind surprises (spoiler alert photographs of the installation below). This exhibition is high art with loans from important collections worldwide, well curated, and supremely installed. Its genesis stems from collector Stephen Lash and curators from the Peabody Essex Museum and London’s Victoria and Albert. I was reminded of great design shows at MoMa and influential Modernism fairs during the 1980s at the Armory. NEWS FLASH –  More than 1000 works of art from the collection of Stephen Lash, Peabody Essex Museum overseer, were gifted to the museum and announced this week through this exhibition. 

If you only have time for one work…

STANLEY SPENCER 
Riveters from the epic cycle Shipbuilding on the Clyde, 1941, in the collection of the Imperial War Museums, London. I have never seen one of these Spencers in person–what a surprise to find it here!

mural by STANLEY SPENCER from epic series SHIPBUILDING ON THE CLYDE Riveters, 1941 IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM LONDON Ocean Liners Installation Peabody Essex Museum © C Ryan 20170908_114331

The photo above illustrates the left corner of the Spencer mural: it’s so vast you need to use a video to capture its mind boggling composition and entirety. (Spencer’s studies included field sketches unfurled on toilet paper–useful, cheap, and lengthy matrix):

 

FINEST EXTANT TITANIC CARVING FRAGMENT (arch at the threshhold of the recital lounge), ca.1911, from the collection of Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax Nova Scotia Museum. Spotlighting in this post for artist, Morgan Faulds Pike

FINEST EXTANT TITANIC CARVING FRAGMENT arch recital lounge ca1911, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,Halifax Nova Scotia- Ocean Liners Installation  Peabody Essex Museum © C Ryan 20170908_115342.jpg

Shout out to David and Susan Goode – was thrilled to see the Jan Matulka from Norfolk Southern collection!

JAN MATULKA New York Harbor Paris 1925 NORFOLK SOUTHERN CORP - Ocean Liners Installation  Peabody Essex Museum © C Ryan 20170908_121220.jpg

OCEAN LINERS exhibition was co-organized by the Peabody Essex Museum and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and closes October 9, 2017. The exhibition opens at the Victoria & Albert in February and continues through June 10, 2018. There are many standouts in this exhibition, photographs September 2017 (click to enlarge and see descriptions)

 

Photographs/short video clips from my visit September 2017. Gloucester’s Zach Gorrell is a participating musician for the LIVE pianist performances. Alex Olsen playing when I was there.

 

Breathtaking corner vignette, exhibition pause, includes *gasp* wow poster and Winsor McCay silent film sinking of Lusitania  ” 25,000 drawings had to be made and photographed one at a time…” see film clips below Continue reading “Last call! #OceanLiners stunning art deco and modernism exhibition Peabody Essex Museum”

Rediscovered Artist: seeking information on Arthur William Wilson (1892-1974) also known as ‘TEX’, WINSLOW WILSON and PICO MIRAN active NYC, Rockport, Gloucester

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Winslow Wilson, Squall Coming, photo http://www.winslowwilson.com

 

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Pico Miran (Arthur Winslow Wilson), Merry-go-Round, photo http://www.winslowwilson.com

Granddaughter Claudia Wilson-Howard writes Good Morning Gloucester seeking any information, biographical “tidbits”, or recollections about fine artist Winslow Wilson who resided in Gloucester and had studios in Gloucester and Rockport ca. 1946-1972.She is working on an excellent project: a digital resource about her grandfather.

I am the granddaughter of Winslow Wilson,” she writes, “an artist who spent most of his life on Cape Ann, painting under two names in two studios.  One studio, in Gloucester, the second in Rockport, and a member of the Rockport Art Association from 1946-1972, he was an active member of the art community. I have developed a website (www.winslowwilson.com), which is a work in progress.  I am attempting to develop as detailed a biography as possible, and was hoping …to reach out to the community to help gather any tidbit of information. Thank you very much!” 

Perhaps a reader of this blog can help identify a sitter in one of Wilson’s stellar unidentified local portraits.

Arthur William “Winslow” “Tex” Wilson, also known as Pico Miran was an American artist–primarily a painter– born on July 20, 1892  in Brady, Texas. His family moved to Junction, TX, where he graduated from high school, also the address he used while attending Harvard. Wilson  was a veteran of the First World War (National Guard, AEF) deployed to France 1918-1919. He died November 18, 1974 in Miami, FLA.

At Harvard

Wilson transferred from Texas A&M University to  Harvard. Roy Follett his professor at Texas A&M described Wilson’s impact on him as “atomic”, possessed with a creative intellect that surpassed the teacher’s.  And then the unthinkable…

For Wilson, life changed punishingly July 4, 1912 as he accidentally and horrifically killed his fellow undergrad, a friend and co-worker Merle DeWitt Britten on the job, driving the streetcar that crushed him. Wilson left Harvard, then came back. He skipped classes. At times he soared. He was a writer and editor of The Harvard Monthly  literary magazine with an impressive group of multi talented peers and friends: ee cummings; John Dos Passos; critic Gilbert Seldes; poet (Pulitzer prize winner) Robert Hillyer; poet (later Director MA Historical Society) R. Stewart Mitchell; Scofield Thayer*; and  James Sibley Watson*.

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the-girl-that-advertised
Arthur Wilson undergraduate writing published in The Harvard Montly

The Harvard Monthly was founded in 1885 and ceased publication in 1917, its aim “to publish the best (undergraduate) articles, fiction and verse by students in the University.”  The words  “and verse” were added after E.E. Cummings gave their class commencement speech in 1915 on “The New Art” extolling contemporary expressions in music, the visual arts, and literature. “What really brought down the house was Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons,” he’d later say about this bit in the speech:

“unquestionably a proof of great imagination on the part of the authoress, as anyone who tries to imitate her work will discover for himself. Here we see traces of realism, similar to those which made the “Nude Descending a Staircase” so baffling. As far as these “Tender Buttons” are concerned, the sum and substance of criticism is impossible. The unparalleled familiarity of the medium precludes its use for the purpose of aesthetic effect. And here, in their logical conclusion, impressionistic tendencies are reduced to absurdity. The question now arises, how much of all this is really Art? The answer is: we do not know. The great men of the future will most certainly profit by the experimentation of the present period. An insight into the unbroken chain of artistic development during the last half century disproves the theory that modernism is without foundation; rather we are concerned with a natural unfolding of sound tendencies. That the conclusion is, in a particular case, absurdity, does not in any way impair the value of the experiment, so long as we are dealing with sincere effort. The New Art, maligned though it may be by fakirs and fanatics, will appear in its essential spirit to the unprejudiced critic as a courageous and genuine exploration of untrodden ways…how much of all this is really Art? The answer is: we do not know. The great men of the future will most certainly profit by the experimentation of the present period.” – ee cummings 1915 

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ee cummings portrait of Thayer, printed in the Dial

*The Dial was founded by James Sibley Watson and Scofield Thayer. Emily Sibley Watson, Founder of Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester was friends with Marianne Moore

1917 NYC apartment with Cummings

Wilson and e.e. cummings (1884-1962) were roommates at Harvard, friends who hit the town. (There’s one story with them caught at a prostitute’s apartment.) They remained friends enough to room together more and carouse Greenwich Village. Thanks to $1000 from Thayer, Cummings joined Wilson in New York at 21 East 15th Street in 1917.

There are striking parallels, comparisons, and secrets in the lives they led. Both men were artists and writers that had tragic and shattering life experiences, and estranged and scandalous family stories.

According to Virginia Spencer Carr‘s 1984 biography of John Dos Passos, Dos Passos envied these two: “Wilson was already signing his paintings (when he signed them at all) “Winslow Wilson” and Dos Passos surmised (when?) that he would be recognized eventually for his stunning portraits and seascapes. He was convinced that Cummings was too assured a reputation as a painter and saw Dudley Poore as the best poet of the lot from Harvard who aspired to a career in letters.” 

All three enlisted in WW1. Cummings signed up for the volunteer ambulance corp along with Harvard chums Hillyer and Dos Passos. Cummings ended up a POW and wrote a novel about the experience, The Enormous Room. Cummings said he was a self-taught painter, helped along by friends from Harvard. Did he sign up for classes in New York? Where did Wilson study art in New York before WW1?

(Incidentally, Gertrude Stein was also a volunteer camion; it seems like a ‘who wasn’t?’ roster. The majority of the 3500+ drivers came from ivy league schools, especially Harvard. The American Field Service (AFS) ambulance unit grew to be the largest and was founded by Gloucester’s own A. Piatt Andrew in 1915, after helping out the year before.)

1920s

After the War, Wilson was in New York and abroad in Paris, and London (infamously). There was a blink of a marriage and divorce from Elizabeth Brice, and a daughter Caroline, a dancer, that he never saw again. At 34, Wilson and his  19 year old girlfriend Winifred Brown abandoned a baby. It was an international scandal. Wilson’s family stepped up and his brother Ernest raised the boy as his own. It was four decades before the baby learned about his biological parents. I know these wincing details because that boy, H Robert Wilson, is a good writer and did the research.

Arthur Wilson signed his paintings as “Winslow” Wilson, which fits as a wink at Homer. Seascapes as a subject. Private solitary life. It also works as a visual swapping out of “Tex” for East Coast “Winslow”. The initials become double letters (like e.e. cummings), and nearly a double name, minus one letter and there’s an anagram of Wilson. It’s even a  way to differentiate his name ‘Arthur Wilson’ from other artists and writers with the same name(s), initials (AW or the comic Aww), and friends. Winslow Wilson is decidedly not Edmund Wilson (though like many writers he credits “nearly everything” about his sources of style as a painter to him), artist Edward Arthur Wilson, artist Arthur Wilson (UK), artist Arthur Wilson (LA), artist Edward Adrian Wilson, to name a few.

Mostly, Wilson using “Winslow” seems a deliberate break from his traumatic past: living with the death of his friend, letting his family down, fighting in WW1, divorce, scandal, family secrets, and that difficult ee cummings portrait poem about him.

ca. 1922 ee cummings poem ‘Arthur Wilson’

E.E. Cummings poem “Three Portraits” (I. Pianist  II. Caritas  III. Arthur Wilson) is published in the modernist magazine the Broom: An International Magazine of the Arts, Volume 2, Number 4, July 1922. Founded and backed not nearly enough by Harold Loeb and Alfred Kreymborg, the Broom publication was a short lived (1921-24) modernist monthly featuring  “unknown, path-breaking” writers and artists (reproductions, original designs, translations). The cummings poem ‘Arthur Wilson’ was illustrated with woodcuts by Ladislaw Medgyes.  The issue’s cover design was by Fernard Leger;

the-broom-july-4-1922-fernard-leger-cover
Cover design by Fernard Leger, Broom, Volume 2 No. 4, July 1922

 

Picasso, Modigliani and William Gropper drawings were reproduced inside.

gropper-the-top-box-broom-july-1922

The text for III. Arthur Wilson follows (refer to the image for the visual spatial break in cummings prose).

ee-cummings-three-portraits-broom

III. Arthur Wilson
as usual i did not find him in cafes, the more dissolute atmosphere
of a street superimposing a numbing imperfectness upon such peri-
grinations as twilight spontaneously by inevitable tiredness of flang-
ing shop-girls impersonally affords furnished a soft first clue to
his innumerable whereabouts          violet logic of annihilation demon-
strating from woolworthian pinnacle a capable millenium of faces
meshing with my curiously instant appreciation exposed his hiber-
native contours,
aimable immensity impeccably extending the courtesy of five o’clock
became the omen of his prescience          it was spring by the way
in the soiled canary-cage of largest existence.

(when he would extemporise the innovation of muscularity upon the
most crimson assistance of my comforter a click of deciding glory
inflicted to the negative silence that primeval exposure whose elec-
tric solidity remembers some accurately profuse scratchings in a
recently discovered cave,           the carouse of geometrical putrescence
whereto my invariably commendable room had been forever subject
his Earliest word wheeled out on the sunny dump of oblivion)

a tiny dust finely arising at the integration of my soul i coughed

, naturally.
-E.E. Cummings

Like The Harvard Monthly and The Dial, Broom contributors were or would become recognized luminaries: Sherwood Anderson, Guillaume Apollinaire, Hans Arp, Conrad Aiken, Kenneth Burke, Robert M Coates, Jean Cocteau, Malcolm Cowley, Hart Crane, Adolph Dehn, Andre Derain, Raoul Dufy, Paul Eldridge, T S Eliot, Wanda Gag, Robert Graves, Juan Gris, William Gropper, George Grosz, Rockwell Kent, Paul Klee, Fernand Leger, Lipchitz, El Lissitzky, Amy Lowell, Louis Lozowick, Marianne Moore, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Mondigliani, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, ‘Charles Sheeler, Gertrude Stein, Joseph Stella, Wallace Stevens, Paul Strand, Max Weber, William Carlos Williams, and Virginia Woolf among other  artists and writers.

It was a small world and circle. The Broom contributors likely read that ee cummings poem about Wilson, and several knew both men. Names carried over from the Harvard-Dial network (Amy Lowell, Marianne Moore).

EE Cummings published Part III in later editions by the title “as usual I did not find him in cafes” omitting Arthur Wilson’s name.

1924 e.e. cummings visits Gloucester

to see writer, friend and editor R. Stewart Mitchell (1892-1957) who had a home here. Stewart Mitchell was another Harvard alumni (1915) and former Harvard Monthly editor. His face inspired the nickname “The Great Auk”. How nice being friends with artist-writers.

ee-cummings-pencil-portrait-of-stewart-mitchell

After serving in WW1, Mitchell was a managing editor and regular contributor for The Dial from 1919-21, then published poet. From 1928-1937 he was Managing Editor of the New England Quarterly journal, and from 1929- 57 an editor and Director of the Massachusetts Historical Society. On the Ma Historical Society seal : “It would hardly have done to compare the members of the Society to oxen, sheep, or birds … but bees had always had a good reputation for the sweetness and light of their honey and their wax. “– 1949 Stewart Mitchell

 

poems-by-stewart-mitchell

 

Did  Cummings and Arthur W. Wilson come to Gloucester while attending Harvard or at other times in the 1920s to see Stewart? Was Cummings in Gloucester other years, decades? Did Wilson and Mitchell re-connect in Gloucester? John Sloan’s etching Frankie and Johnnie illustrates EE Cummings’ play HIM. Did Wilson interact with Stuart Davis in Gloucester or New York?

(Aside: In 1984 the play ViVa Cummings! opened in Gloucester under the direction of William Finlay and the New Stillington Players. Did they know Cummings had been here…)

1935

Wilson fails to update his Harvard alumni association requests. Here’s the 1935 entry:

harvard-class-of-1915-printed-1935

1951 ELEANOR ROOSEVELT VISITS EXHIBIT AT AAA, NYC

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Artist Winslow Wilson guiding Eleanor Roosevelt through his solo exhibition at Associated American Artists, June 4, 1951.   Photograph from http://www.winslowwilson.com

Wilson’s painting from the 1951 Contemporary American Artists exhibition at the Associated American Artists won the people’s choice award, and his solo exhibit in June was attended and written about by Eleanor Roosevelt in her nationally syndicated MY DAY column:

HYDE PARK, Sunday—At lunch last Friday I had a visit from Mr. Tatsukichiro Horikawa, who is over here from Japan on a trip studying the World Federation movement in different countries. He has visited Switzerland, Germany, France and England, as well as the United States, and he came to see me before in New York City; but he wishes particularly to come up to Hyde Park and place some flowers on my husband’s grave.

I was especially interested in talking to him because, like so many of the World Federalists, he felt that the United Nations was very inadequate. He felt one must bring about more unity—and particularly, if we were going to have any settlements in the Far East, there must be unity between Great Britain and the United States as well as the other nations in their policy.

I asked him if he did not think it was a good deal to expect to have a unified policy among 60 nations when the organization bringing them together had been in existence only six years. It seems to me it requires longer for people to understand how the other peoples think and feel. World federation might someday be possible, but not until people have had a greater length of time to find out about each other. One of the American World Federalist members had also written me saying that the federation must come first and then be followed by understanding. I think this begs the question of how you obtain the federation and how, having obtained it in name, you do anything practical with it.

In New York City on Thursday afternoon I went to see an exhibition of paintings of the sea done by Winslow Wilson, at the Associated American Artists Galleries on Fifth Avenue. This exhibition was arranged under the auspices of Greenwich House, toward whose support a portion of the proceeds of any sale will go.

Mr. Wilson told me he did not paint actually from a scene he was looking at, but from memory. He said he particularly liked to use the sea because it was to him a symbol of the stress and strife we were all going through at present; and still it had a kind of discipline and control which was what most human beings were striving for today and finding difficult of achievement. I found some of his paintings quite beautiful, and reminiscent of many seacoasts I have known. In certain ones the light made one think of tropical climates; in others the shores of Maine seemed to stand out. More often the sky and the sea were stormy, but the light was nearly always breaking through. Let us hope that out of this turbulent period of history the light will break through for all human beings.

The other day I was sent a little pamphlet written by Eloise R. Griffith on the national anthems and their origin. I think this will be of interest to a great many people who want to know a little more than the mere words of the songs which we hear sung so often.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I am thunderstruck reading a portion of sales would benefit Greenwich House. Talk about an undercurrent.

1951 Post-Modern Manifesto in the same year as the AAA seascapes

 

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https://winslowwilson.com/manifesto-for-post-modern-art/

“A complete study of Cummings should take penetrating account of his painting and drawing. And no estimate of his literary work can begin without noting the important fact that Cummings is a painter.” That’s the opener for Syrinx., a critique of Cummings by Gorham B. Munson published in Secession July 1923. “His first stimulus comes from the emotional and perceptive materials of his experience…Cummings has jabbed his pen into life, but he has also twisted it in the wound, and it is this twist of the pen that makes literature.” 

Knowing ee cummings facility with visual arts transforms how his poems read. He identifies both pursuits. The press announcement for Cummings appointment at Harvard in 1952 affirmed that he resided in New York City, writing and painting since the year 1920. It wasn’t that he sculpted marks–‘scratchings’- that could be seen as pictures in print,–it’s this charge when visual art and writing advance toward or basically obliterate media boundaries.

After reading Wilson’s 1951 Manifesto For Post-Modern Art published under his pseudonym Pico Miran, I felt a similar tug. For Wilson, when it comes to ideas and individuality, words and paint –and as many names and identities to match– matter.  Some of Wilson’s paintings could be shown alongside pages from ee cummings The Enormous Room.

There are takeaways and points one can make about this manifesto and painting series of Wilson. I can think of art I’d like to show together with this work.

Yikes, the thoughts about women! Here’s Wilson writing as Pico Miran in his Manifesto, emphasis on man apparently:

“But while he proposes to save the personal symbol, he must emphatically reject the conception of its privacy–a conception which he is compelled to regard as an effeminate misery: he cannot help thinking an almost unmanly exaggeration of the one bit of feminine make-up in every artist, here flouncing in absurd esthetic millinery, with coy desire for secretiveness, mysterious subjectivity, and vain feelings of cryptic superiority to the vulgar mass.” 

1951 Hidden, not lost

Wilson evidently maintained some contacts; note the supportive reviews by friends (Moore, Burke, Wheelock) later reprinted for his 1957 solo exhibit at Vose Galleries in Boston. Edward Alden Jewel, the New York Times critic, described Wilson as “living a hidden life of pure dedication and drudgery” in his 1951 NYC AAA review.

2015 Found. A great teacher

On Cape Ann, Wilson taught figurative painting through the Rockport Art Association, which he joined in 1946. Wilson is recollected as a dazzling teacher who could bring out the best in his students. One student’s 2015 recollection is a must read:  “Bing McGilvray of the Cape Ann Museum was fortunate to communicate with a local artist familiar with Wilson, Betty Lou Schlemm.”  Wilson sounds like the famous and captivating professors at Harvard.   Another unforgettable piece about Wilson’s biography concerns a local exchange between Pico Miran and Peter Anastas following a 1954 review by the latter.

For local readers, the www.winslowwilson.com website helpfully provides some Gloucester addresses associated with Wilson.

  • June 21, 1951: Bradford Building, 209 Main Room 208, Gloucester, MA
  • August 1, 1951: Marine Basin, E. Gloucester, MA
  • June 18, 1952: Bradford Building, 209 Main Room 208, Gloucester, MA
  • July 26, 1955: Bradford Building, 209 Main Room 208, Gloucester, MA
  • 1967 maybe 195 Main Street, Gloucester, MA
  • 1969 maybe 195 Main Street, Gloucester, MA
  • June 2, 1971: PO. Box 414, Gloucester, MA

Also:

21 Est 15th Street, 154 East 39th Street, Carnegie Hall, 3 Washington Square North in Greenwich Village, Woodstock, N.Y., and Lime Rock, CT.

Movie – “Visible Silence”

VISIBLE SILENCE: MARSDEN HARTLEY, PAINTER AND POET
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12TH @ 7:15PM
***DIRECTOR IN ATTENDANCE***
THE CAPE ANN COMMUNITY CINEMA
(AT GLOUCESTER STAGE)
267 EAST MAIN STREET * EAST GLOUCESTER * 978/282-1988

This is the first documentary ever made about world-renowned painter Marsden Hartley. It was written, directed, and narrated by Michael Maglaras of 217 Films, who will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions following the screening.

“Visible Silence” features 43 Hartley paintings and sketches as well as many photographs of Hartley — from early youth to his final years as “Maine’s Painter.” Drawing heavily from his poetical works, this documentary, a deeply personal statement by Maglaras, captures the essence of Hartley — long considered one of the fathers of American Modernism.

Hartley spent his life traveling the world in search of remote and forbidding landscapes. A critical period for Hartley was his stay in Gloucester in the 1930’s, where he painted his “Dogtown” series.

“The two periods in Hartley’s creative life, first in 1920 and then again in 1931 when he went to Gloucester and to Cape Ann to paint, left us some of the most wonderful and exciting work of Hartley’s career,” said Maglaras. “Hartley fell in love with the area around Gloucester, known as Dogtown, and from his humble boarding house at #1 Eastern Point Road, reported to friends that ‘… a sense of eeriness pervades all the place; the white ghosts of those huge boulders stand like sentinels guarding nothing but space.’”

An entire section of this film is devoted to an important early painting, “Carnival of Autumn,” which is in the permanent collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Art. Also featured is the late painting “Summer, Sea, Window, Red Curtain” from the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Mass.

In 2008, a Hartley painting sold for $6.31 million, setting an auction record at Christie’s for an American Modernist work, overtaking a record previously held by a work of Georgia O’Keeffe.

Check out Gail McCarthy’s great article from last Thursday’s GD Times.

Director Michael Maglaras will be on-hand to present the film and conduct a Q&A after the show, and will be joined by Mary Beth Bainbridge of the Peabody-Essex Museum.

61 cm
“Dogtown” (1931) by Marsden Hartley, oil on canvas, h: 18 x w: 24 in / h: 45.7 x w: 61 cm