PHILADELPHIA ART NEWS
ALL THE NEWS OF PHILADELPHIA ART IMPARTIALLY REPORTED
NOVEMBER 22, 1937
Vol. 1 - - - No. 2
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All the News of Philadelphia Art IMPARTIALLY Reported
We have been asked our definition of the word “impartial.” Some have even asked how we can condone critical comment if we are to be impartial.
We use the word “impartial” in its broadest sense. We cannot be swayed from what we feel to be right and just, because of anyone’s social position or because of potential advertising which we might get if we were to do “thus and so.”
A good judge determines guilt and innocence . . . condemns or exonerates IMPARTIALLY.
That is our kind of impartiality.
PHILADELPHIA’S NEW TREASURE
PUBLICITY MACHINE SCORES AGAIN
By HENRY WHITE TAYLOR
Behold, Philadelphia painters, the power of publicity. Behold the international success of the Parisian artists, living and dead, whose work has been promoted commercially by the smoothest-working publicity machine in the history of art.
Who chose these painters as leaders—as being great? Obviously, the dealers. Not the people. Not even the critics. And how beautifully the dealers co-operated to enhance the values of unwanted, disliked paintings by unknown, unsuccessful artists! The dealers bought their stock of pictures for insignificant sums, making their heaviest investment in Publicity. No opportunity did they lose to stir controversy over their daubs, good or bad. Stories appeared frequently in the press. Books were published. A flood of talk floated values from a few cents to tens of thousands of dollars.
Know ye, Philadelphia Painters and Philadelphia Dealers, it is not excellence or beauty or meaning or skill that sells art.
It is PUBLICITY.
Why don’t you co-operate? Why don’t you pool your news, exchange compliments or controversy with one another to make People talk, so that your work and your stock will advance bravely under the standard of the Almighty Dollar?
We address not only you painters and dealers, but the Press of Philadelphia, and of America—and our Government itself. Why do you advertise foreign artists more generously than you do our very fine American painters? Where is your Patriotism? Consider what France, French dealers, and American dealers who import French Art, have done through a consistent use of their official and unofficial channels of Publicity. These have been well rewarded, for Art has become an important source of national income for France, and of profit to the dealers handling her Art. Her artists are revered all over the world. Students of Art in other lands spend their lives trying to capture the mysterious isms which have succeeded so nobly—with such glittering financial rewards.
Cezanne was an excellent man. His sincere attempts at self-expression have enchanted us all. We’ve been stimulated with the Cezanne ideology which has been dinned into us with dizzying publicity. His work has been well sold. How could the Pennsylvania Museum resist buying one of his paintings for the bargain price of only a hundred and ten thousand dollars?
We brag that America is a nation of Salesmen. Why have we neglected our opportunities in Art? Think of it, you Dealers without French affiliations—the commission on one hundred and ten thousand dollars slipped through your flabby fingers! But don’t groan; Whose fault is it?
Here in America and in Philadelphia you have a vast store of excellent, vital work by American painters. All you need to promote its sale is the kind of active materialistic faith which has made the French School the most conspicuous in the world. Here is where your juiciest potential profits lie, here glory, laud and honor.
The Philadelphia Record and the New York Evening Post have devoted two-page spreads to the advertisement of Van Gogh prints which they are giving away for a number of coupons to be clipped from their papers. We ad-writers who wrote the blurbs for this spread went to town in a big way. It sorta brought tears to our eyes, but Peyton Boswell, editor of the Art Digest, had a different reaction. He comments:
“While no cure for seasickness has yet been discovered, one can be sure that the great Dutchman has by this time worn out his shroud—turning in his grave.”
Knowledge of the work of painters in other lands is vital to our culture, it is true, but it would be delightful if we could preserve a sense of proportion.
In all fairness to the Pennsylvania Museum of the Fine Arts and to the City of Philadelphia, we wish to make the following FACTS known:
- 1. The City of Philadelphia did not purchase the “Bathers” by Cezanne.
- 2 Neither did the Pennsylvania Museum of the Fine Arts.
- 3. It was purchased by the Wilstach Fund.
- 4. That fund is governed by the Fairmount Park Commission. Mr. Widener, as chairman of the Wilstach Collection Committee and member of the Park Commission, made the purchase.
MORE BALLYHOO ABOUT THE MUSEUM “BATHERS”
In connection with the controversy raised by Dr. Albert C. Barnes, of the Barnes Foundation, Merion, we herewith quote his recent communication to us. This is in answer to certain statements made by Carrol S. Tyson and others as to the merit of Philadelphia’s treasure “THE BATHERS”.
We publish Dr. Barnes’ statement in full, hoping thereby to stimulate constructive controversy. All other communications shall be given adequate editorial consideration. We ask our readers to send us their own reactions.
The “expert” testimony offered in today’s newspapers in favor of the Museum’s Cezanne “Bathers,” and the setting which is supposed to invest the statement with authority, will bear a little looking into.
The blanket designation of “Metropolitan Museum of Art” as one of the “experts,” with no official’s name attached, is about on a par as valid testimony with that of the Pennsylvania Railroad Station.
The supposedly authoritative book from which a quotation is offered, is in reality a photograph album published by a Paris picture dealer of whom the Museum buys paintings. The essential point in this testimony involves a delicate matter, and I have promised the Museum officials not to let the cat out of the bag at the present.
The third “expert” named, Mr. Carrol S. Tyson, is, by way of qualification, said to be an “artist and collector” and “in recognition of his own art he was honored by the French Government last August with the Chevalier Cross of the Legion of Honor.” The facts about the latter quotation are that the French Government never saw Tyson’s “art,” and the decoration was awarded to him because of his loans of French pictures to exhibitions sponsored by the French Government. The so-called “honor” is in fact just a plain matter of payment made for material services rendered.
It will be news to the well-informed in art matters to learn that Mr. Tyson is an “artist;” heretofore he has been known chiefly as a rich Philadelphia socialite who, for the past twenty-five years, has been trying to paint passable imitations of French impressionist pictures, but has never quite succeeded. There is a vast difference between that sort of activity and what constitutes either artistic creation or competence in esthetic judgment.
What all of this supposedly “expert” testimony amounts to is a series of mere assertions unsupported by the presentation of any relevant or verifiable facts. My statement concerning the Museum’s “Bathers” named the objective features that marked the painting as of about “fifth-rate quality,” it cited the figures indicating the extent to which the city has been “stung,” and it asserted that “an official spokesman for the City of Philadelphia, in municipal art matters has given to the public press of America, false and misleading information in which the unwarranted exploitation of my name has led people to believe that I endorse the misrepresentation.”
The only reply satisfactory to the public will consist of equally specific statements upon each of my accusations, and made by an official of the City or the Museum. Up to the present, the public has had nothing but vague ipse dixits from irresponsible and incompetents.
Albert C. Barnes
November 18, 1937
ELDON B AILEY
Vincent Van Gogh has come to town!
Not, of course, in the flesh—that would be too happy an incident. Rather in the much more pleasant garb of art. One of our local newspapers is offering, for a practically non-existent sum of money, a series of large, full color reproductions of the work of that divine madman.
This is the healthiest sign we have as yet noted in the cultural life of the city of Billy Penn’s pride. And it is one, by all odds, to be encouraged.
The other day one of our acquaintances took us to task for our enthusiasm on the subject. Why, he wondered, do they not place a premium on American art, rather than on past foreign accomplishments?
Why not? It’s certainly a good idea—if practicable. Unfortunately it is not at all practicable. America has not yet come sufficiently of age to warrant her buying, popularly, even in reproductions, the worst or best in American art. But she’s grown up enough to begin buying good art—providing it appeals to her romantically, if not aesthetically.
For example, Mr. X may be dragged to a symphony concert, have a very dull time listening to Beethoven, and come home glad it’s over. If, perchance, the following day he begins to read a romantic novel based upon the life and loves of Ludwig, he shall unwittingly have established a point of contact with the composer, and the next time he listens to Beethoven it will be with infinitely more interest.
The same element, we feel, is largely responsible for the sudden and amazing popularity of Van Gogh in America today. The fact that he amputated one of his ears and sent it affectionately to his favorite harlot has little in common with his greatness as a painter—but it furnishes a magnificent side entrance for the layman. He knows now that Vincent was quite as crazy as some of us, in our own intelligent ways, that he was quite as human—that he was, and is, brother Vincent, not only to Theo but to all of us. And America takes Vincent to its heart, not because of the ear, but because of the humanity. By the same token, many people would love Brahms more than they do, if they knew he had false teeth.
So let’s not quibble about whether Vincent was or was not American, but rejoice in the fact that work of Vincent’s calibre can actually be sold popularly in America. One of these days in the natural process of things, one of our countrymen shall have the same distinction.
Vigor and variety are the two outstanding characteristics of the Print Club’s Fifth National Exhibition of prints. It is interesting to compare the French group with the Polish, for here we have the greatest possible technical and emotional contrast.
The French, as ever, remain apostles of linear and tonal delicacy, as witness the output of such contributors as Picasso, Segonzac and Jean-Morin. Considerable substance of tone is to be found in the work of Germaine de Coster and Jean Bersier to say nothing of the extravagantly varied texture of Fried Berger’s etching and drypoint “Du Cote de Chez Moi.”
In the work of the Poles we have strength, sharpness and violent contrast of rhythms. Pawel Steller in his “Housewife of Silesian Mountains” and “Beehive-Keeper from Wolyn,” both wood-cuts, has gone to the old German masters for his intricacy of detail. Charles Winzer’s lithographs “Zeus and the Nymphs” and “Death of a Unicorn” hark likewise to another, but different, age. Delicate and poetic, they are not unlike Fantin-Latour.
A definite kinship exists between the Polish and Hungarian prints, although the latter lean rather more toward the naturalistic—without, however, sacrificing rhythmic considerations.
It seems quite unnecessary to comment upon the type of prints hailing from England and Scotland; all print lovers are familiar with their unchanging print tradition. Robert Austin, S. R. Badmin, Arthur Briscoe, Dame Laura Knight, James McBey and Sir D. Y. Cameron should furnish a fair idea of the contributors.
The German section is extremely well chosen and represents some of the most progressive of contemporary German artists. George Grosz, Kaethe Kollwitz, Carl Hofer, Renee Sintenis and Emil Nolde are but a few of the printmakers who have contributed to the success of this section.
From Japan come the usual landscapes, figure studies and exquisite fish, and the Mexican group is as startling as Charlot, Orozco and Rivera can make it.
The American group is, all things considered, rather feeble. The catalogue explains that “it has been thought best to invite only a few American artists to enter this exhibition” because of lack of space and the fact that American printmakers are so well represented in other shows throughout the year.
The names have been well chosen, but the work could be more representative and a number of the items have been, or are being shown elsewhere in the city. Robert Riggs, Benton Spruance and Earle Miller pep up the United States section considerably.
Other countries represented are Australia, China, India, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Holland, Wales, Canada, Greece and Belgium.
The Annual Exhibition of Water Colors and Black and Whites by members of the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, now current at the Art Club, is painfully near being the dullest show we’ve ever seen. However, the few sprightly items that did get in probably profit by contrast.
Wade Jolly, for instance, contributes the most brilliant group in the show—a series of Bermuda studies, while Ben Solowey, with the vital diamond composition of his “Tulips”, has created the most distinctive single picture. Katherine Farrell’s “Belfrey Tower—Taos, New Mexico” has achieved harmonious color and charming geometric simplicity, and June Groff realizes considerably more than distinctive individuality.
“Man Catching Bait”, by Virginia Armitage McCall, is beautiful in its opalescent suggestion of mountains, trees and sky. The “man” in question is infinitesimal, the general conception remarkably fine. Will Coffee’s “Owl of the Desert” might have been better; it seems to have missed fire, whereas the paintings of Paul Gill and Paul Laessle have inordinate freshness and spontaneity.
William N. Goodell shows “Jimmy Reading”, and Jimmy is as vital in art as he probably is in life. Anton Albers, Janet Ball, Mary Butler, Henrietta Henning, Mary Mullineux, Frederick Nunn, Wuanita Smith, Martha Walter, Jean Flannigan, June Groff, Fred Wagner and Gladys M. G. West round out the list of distinctive contributors.
One would not be inclined to suspect that T. Mitchell Hastings was formerly an architect, or that he had begun to paint scarcely more than a year ago. One’s first impression of his showing of water colors now at the Warwick Galleries is cleanliness of pigmentation and decorative quality.
There are but few of these pictures that aspire to violent contrast or tonal depth; for the most part they reveal a soft serenity of vision. While such paintings as “Laon Cathedral, France” and “Twilight; Ojai Valley, California” have deepened themselves tonally—the former suggestive of Jules Guerin, the latter quite Japanesque—we search in vain for pigmental “mud”. The shadows have a nice iridescence.
In “Road to Glory: Pioche, Nevada” and Pacific Sunrise; near Hawaii the difficult subject of sun and clouds is presented without too much sentimentality, and for the more homely subject handled intimately we recommend the studies of “Dairy Ranch” and “Shacks” which the painter observed in Santa Barabara, California.
Extraordinarily fresh in color is “Red Head Frame; Pioche, Nevada”, in which red wood rears itself against blue mountains. “Mission; Ojai Valley; California” and “Greek Monastary; Island of Skyros” are seen through a poet’s eyes.
Charles Burchfield is not interested in frills, as may readily be seen at his exhibition of large water colors at the Art Alliance. He looks at America and envisions a drab world—one that certainly offers little to the lover of gaiety—but one that is honestly seen and forcefully expressed. His pigmental language is broad and simple, and its simplicity is eloquent.
As usual, the high priests of Mexican art—Rivera, Charlot and Orozco—cover most of the territory in the adjoining room devoted to the prints of their country. It is not a large show, but its impact, after Burchfield, is tremendous.
The Annual Exhibition of the Circulating Picture Club is occupying the second floor galleries.
To those interested in observing what happens to the Oriental mind that has become occidentalized in art, we suggest the group of native Chinese—but now American—painters to be seen at the Philadelphia A. C. A. Gallery. Not only have they absorbed the Western aesthetic outlook, but three of them have turned avidly to the inevitable social problem.
Bunpei Usui with his “Shop”, Dakari Suzki with “Strength” and Eitaro Ishigaki with “Ku Klux Klan” get into the thick of it.
Yun Gee’s two studies are brilliantly patterned, Isami Doi sees Hawaii as a turbulent spot, and Chuzo Tomotsu shows a “Summer Arbor”, naive and reminiscent of Rousseau—also a “Washday” more than suggestive of Kuniyoshi, Thomas Nagai contributes two landscapes—the most Oriental works in the show. There is also an unusual wood carving—female torso—by an unknown contemporary Chinese sculptor.
The present group of water colors at the Boyer Galleries is spiced highly enough to tickle the most jaded tongue. All of the contributors are inclined, in one way or another, to be witty—whether it be line, mass or color.
David Burliuk, whose naivete is as boundless as his philosophy is profound, shows two small water colors—“Still Life—Fish” and “Russian Peasants”—both vivid joys to the eye and accomplished with zest. Carl Shaffer, in “Bittersweet,” manifests his usual affection for black outlines, and, with Shaffer, they are always effective. Here they flow along beautifully with the painter’s not too dry, not too juicy, reds and browns. “Unmasked,” on the other hand, is a sufficiently fluid water color to remind one of the flood, and is quite as piquant as the Shaffer of the flesh. A violently red mask is lowered to reveal only the lady’s eyes—and evil ones they are.
Stewart Wheeler’s “Fishery” is a rare combination of excellent draughtsmanship and richly subdued color. One senses not only the stench of the fish, but the divinity of the dune. Viktor Planckh, in “Potato Harvest,” furnishes the show’s classicism, and Rainey Bennett goes to the “Seashore” in a big way, and a provocative one. Herman Maril, Gyula Stojana and Helen Tuttle complete the showing.
Irwin Hoffman, by means of the bitten line, has many things to say at the Carlen Galleries. His erstwhile indulgence in lithography has left its mark upon his present etchings—a multitude of lines, much tonal depth and breadth.
Dramatic movement reaches its zenith in two vivid war etchings, as well as studies of miners and stokers.
In another group Hoffman turns to a fruitful study of Mexican types, and has been clever enough to alter his general plastic feeling to suit the occasion. There is more simplicity of design in these. “Mexican Mother”, indeed, stems quite patently from Charlot.
The Gallery of the Cultural Olympics is staging the first of a series of exhibits of student work, and represents the School of Industrial Art, Graphic Sketch Club and Moore Institute. The selection was made by Roy C. Nuse, Franklin Watkins and Herman Bloch. Acceptance in the exhibit automatically gives the young artists opportunity of entering their work in the final festival exhibition, to begin April 27. The present showing includes eleven paintings and two pieces of wood carving, the latter from the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp.
MARTIN ON CERAMICS
Wayne Martin, instructor in the fine arts at Radnor Township High School, spoke to a group at the Art Alliance, November 11, on Ceramics, describing some experiments he and his wife, daughter of the well-known potter, E. deF. Curtis, had made in this craft.
Informally sketching his own introduction into the field of pottery-making, he summarized his experiences by saying that ceramics “challenges like no other craft, and you soon learn to worship the god of fires, and can understand the Chinese potters of old who sacrificed their own children’s blood for the sake of color.”
Mr. Martin gave a brief history of ceramics, as well as an account of his work with child instruction, concluding by characterizing ceramics as possessing the three qualities that “brand any object as a work of art: something whose materials have been carefully selected, something that has been skillfully manipulated, and finally something that has been purposefully adapted to human need.”
- BOYER GALLERIES
- Broad Street Station Building.
- Sculpture and Drawings by Emma Lu Davis. Beginning November 23.
- CARLEN GALLERIES
- 323 South 16th Street
- Etchings by Irwin Hoffman to November 27–30
- PHILADELPHIA ART ALLIANCE
- 251 South 18th Street
- Mexican Graphic Arts-Prints—Water Colors by Burchfield—Annual Circulating Picture Club to November 28.
- PENNSYLVANIA ACADEMY OF THE FINE ARTS
- Broad and Cherry Streets
- Thirty-fifth Annual Water Color Exhibition and Thirty-sixth Miniature Exhibition.
- PENNSYLVANIA MUSEUM
- The Parkway
- Exhibition of the works of Honoré Daumier to December 12—Problems of Portraiture to November 28.
- PENNSYLVANIA MUSEUM SCHOOL OF INDUSTRIAL ART
- Exhibition of Lithographs by Daumier to December 12.
- PHILADELPHIA A. C. A. GALLERY
- 323 South 16th Street
- Philadelphia Paintings by Chinese artists to November 30.
- 1525 LOCUST STREET
- Exhibition of oils and pastels by Elizabeth F. Washington to November 28.
- CHARLES SESSLER’S
- 1310 Walnut Street
- Original Audubon Prints from November 20.
- ART CLUB
- 220 South Broad Street
- Annual Water Color Exhibition of the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to December 1.
- PHILADELPHIA PRINT CLUB
- 1614 Latimer Street
- Fifth International Exhibition of Prints to December 25.
- WARWICK GALLERIES
- 2022 Walnut Street
- Water Colors by T. Mitchell Hastings to December 4.
- WOMEN’S UNIVERSITY CLUB
- Warwick Hotel, 17th & Locust Sts.
- Animal Paintings by Catherine Stewart Williams to November 28.
- U. OF P. CULTURAL OLYMPICS
- 3425 Woodland Avenue
- Oils and Crafts by students over 19 years.
- FRIENDS’ CENTRAL SCHOOL
- 68th St. & City Line, Overbrook
- Contemporary German Prints beginning November 15.
- PHILADELPHIA ART ALLIANCE
- 251 South 18th Street
- Fifteenth Annual Print Exhibition Contemporary American Painters Oils—November 30 to December 19.
- PHILADELPHIA A. C. A. GALLERY
- 323 South 16th Street
- Oils by Joseph Hirsch beginning December 1.
- PLASTIC CLUB
- 247 South Camac Street
- Etchings by Horace Sheble beginning November 24.
- PHILADELPHIA SKETCH CLUB
- 235 South Camac Street
- Exhibit of work by Pupils of John Geisel beginning November 22.
- GALLERY OF CULTURAL OLYMPICS
- 3425 Woodland Avenue
- Work of Students between ages of 16 and 18. Beginning November 24.
ART IN PHOTOGRAPHY
HARLES O GLE
Like the pattern of life, time and space, the abstract exists . . . regardless of why.
It is the very essence of design with no definite label attached, imparting in marble, paint or the photograph a feeling, or sensation more intangible than graphic.
To the artist it is an urge . . . a creation of an expression which has no concrete meaning and tells no necessary story.
The abstract is not pinned down and has no definite boundaries, permitting us rather to read into it our own meanings and experiences.
Even composers do not know what will be the reaction of their audience to their music. Tchaikowsky said that he himself had no concrete explanation of the emotion which moved him in composing. When asked concerning symphonic work he replied . . .
“How can one express those vague feelings which pass through one during the writing of an instrumental work which in itself has no definite subject? It is a purely lyrical process, a musical confession of the soul that, filled with the experiences of a lifetime, pours itself out through sound, just as the lyric poet pours himself out in verse.”
Many interesting abstract pictures can be achieved through the versatile medium of the camera. The subject is not nearly as important as the approach. Let’s try to attain a symphonic tonality, thought in sequence, free rein to pattern and a pleasing play to imagination.
Let’s make music out of black and white.
Philadelphia’s foremost housing experiment is represented by the Carl Mackley Houses, Bristol, between “M” and “N” Streets. Here the modern conception of art for useful as well as for aesthetic enjoyment is fulfilled in a vital and stimulating manner.
Built in several units about open courts, the houses contain two hundred and eighty-four low-priced apartments of two, four and five rooms. The exterior of the buildings is finished in a light yellow glazed brick, with doors and various parts of the trim accented in bright blue. The general impression is of great solidity and yet lightness, due no doubt to the unusual size and number of windows. The interiors of the apartments are remarkable for their efficiency and for the large amount of sunshine and air. Each apartment has a balcony or other open-air living space, these doing much to relieve any monotony inherent in such a formal design.
Besides the general practicality of the apartments themselves, this project has other features unusual to the average apartment house. There is a swimming pool in the center court as well as a wading pool for younger children, an auditorium, and specially designed laundries on the roofs.
The Carl Mackley Houses were erected by the American Federation of Hosiery Workers, whose members are given preference in rentals, with the co-operation of the Federal Government. The architects were Alfred Kastner and Oscar Stonorov.
ETCHINGS MISSING IN FREEMAN SALE
Seven rare and valuable etchings including five by James McBey and two by Anders Zorn were missing from the Freeman Galleries during the etching sale held there last Thursday.
Mr. Brickley, the auctioneer was at a loss to explain the mysterious disappearance of the prints as they were closely guarded preceding the auction.
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LIN YUTANG SPEAKS AT ART MUSEUM
Dr. Lin Yutang, celebrated Chinese author of “My Country and My People” delivered the second lecture in the series “Vital Issues in Art,” November 6, at the Parkway Museum. The subject of his speech was the “Contribution of the East to the West.”
Moderation and eloquence distinguished this address, and address that commended itself to the thoughtful attention of a large audience. In Dr. Yutang’s opinion the East can add nothing to the material, scientific, or economic pretentions of the West; but it is possible that something can be contributed to our concept of art—especially in the way of a more lyric and animal sensitivity to beauty, rhythm, and line. This contribution might counterbalance the ponderous precision and inflexibility of the Western mind. Dr. Yutang said that to the Chinese a circle is still a straight line, if we would understand.
Two separated tendencies in art and life were clearly defined—one toward intellectual logic and material greatness, the other toward artistic perception and mental elevation. One is struck by the graceful ease with which the Chinese mind embraces this duality, and how it gladly acknowledges art to be the way back to unity.
Dr. Yutang emphasized the aesthetics of line, remarking, the immensity of suggestion achieved through the Chinese development of line as an independent potential of expression, until there is a lyrical indication in the actual brushstroke.
The West has much to learn from such representatives of Eastern art—as Dr. Yutang—who contribute much if they deepen our appreciation of the eccentric loveliness and the greatness of Chinese art.
PAINTINGS, PAINTINGS, WHO HAS THE PAINTINGS?
REPORTER TRACKS DOWN VALUABLE COLLECTION AT UNIVERSITY
ANE R ICHTER
“Could you tell me something about the paintings owned by the University?”
Such is the run of conversations pertaining to the more than one hundred oil paintings owned by the University of Pennsylvania. A general vagueness permeates both staff and students whenever the subject is mentioned. Nobody knows about them and nobody seems to care.
The collection, as listed in the one catalogue available, consists of one hundred and sixty-nine portraits of University men, done, for the most part, by American painters of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They are scattered throughout various University buildings, such as the Medical Laboratories, Houston Hall, the Main Library. Too many, however, are hidden in darkness and dirt. There seems to be no central authority responsible for the condition of these pictures, hence a great number of the older paintings, for instance the rather charming but unknown portrait of Oliver Wolcott, Jr., are hidden by dirt and varnish. Many are hung so high that only a circus giant could look at them comfortably. Many are hung in a darkness that seems to symbolize the general obscurity to which their subjects have been relegated, as the indiscernible portrait in the vestibule of the library. Many unfortunately lack the name of the subject; many more, even more unfortunately, lack the names of either artist or subject. One of the latter group comes particularly to mind, the portrait of a benevolent gentleman that hangs directly over the main desk in the library. Again, the comparatively new portrait of Dr. Rosengarten, also in the main library, is hung without the name of the artist. Still another instance of this neglect is a small landscape of the nineteenth century romantic type hanging above the entrance to the American History Seminar, for which no title, author, or school is given.
Undoubtedly there is a very definite need for a general reorganization of the collection, with special emphasis placed on the need for a new catalogue. Mr. Nitzche’s is an aid, but it is far from complete, due to the acquisition of new pictures since its compilation, and now, over twenty years after its publication, it contains inaccuracies. Many of the pictures listed as being in certain places have been removed to new, known or unknown, destinations. Such is the case with the Gainsborough Benjamin Franklin. Formerly in the University library, it is now in President Gates’ office. More mysterious is the fate of two Eakins portraits. The catalogue states that they are in the University Museum, but a careful search of the building and a persistent questioning of three members of the staff failed to disclose their whereabouts. Certainly a thorough cataloguing of these paintings, giving their history and their location would be a worthy publication. Could a portion of the Bicentennial Fund be appropriated for this project?
Taken individually, the majority of these paintings are probably not particularly valuable, but as a collection they do have a definite worth. They illustrate, in a thorough manner, nineteenth and early twentieth century portraiture, in its conventionality, placidity, occasional brilliance, and as such have a historical, if not purely aesthetic value. Here are four paintings by the Philadelphia artist, John Neagle, the Sargent portrait of J. William White, six examples of Sully’s work, Charles Wilson Peale’s portrait of David Rittenhouse, several works by Thomas Eakins, including the famous Agnew Clinic, which might well be a companion piece to the Gross Clinic in the possession of the Jefferson Medical College. There are also a few examples by foreign painters, the Gainsborough mentioned above, the DeLloip Benjamin Franklin, and Angelica Kauffman’s portrait of John Morgan.
The University of Pennsylvania has a valuable inheritance in these portraits of her scholars and leaders. Should not something be done to physically preserve them, and at the same time to make them more understandable and more accessible to the general public?
APPROACH TO SCULPTURE
LEXANDER P ORTNOFF
Self-centered personal ego cannot escape the outside influences of the world at large. Intellectual and independent tendencies shaping the destiny of the artist are developing a personality more sensitively attuned to, and more conscious of, the complexities of life. Within the measure of such a development, the artist, too, and more keenly than the layman, must feel the pulse of his time. His sphere of action, his ties—social, cultural, and material—evolve in him a desire for inquiry, a revaluation of the concepts of art in the search for readjustments. The artist, by leaps and bounds, is capable of visioning horizons deep into the past ages, wide into the present, and high into the future.
If contemporary creative efforts need scrutiny, analysis, and understanding; sculpture, as an art of expression, requires them perhaps more so. It is not uncommon to note that the very concept of sculpture as an art is often lost—either not consummated or not assimilated. Sculpture, the oldest of the fine arts, expresses—more profoundly—truth, simplicity, and beauty. The universality of the art of sculpture, as exemplified by great works of past civilizations, touches the very heart of human emotions.
What is sculpture today? To the layman, the words “sculpture” and “sculptor” sound strange, forlorn, as if, vaguely enveloped in antiquity. A host of misinterpretations surrounds the meaning of sculpture. Is wood-carving sculpture? Is stone-cutting sculpture? Or metal chasing? Or molding? These synonyms of sculpture are crafts: they can be poor or good in their own right, excel as crafts if touched by a creative impulse. In relation to sculpture, these fine crafts are tools and technical means of expression. Sculptural decorations, three-dimensional accessories, embellishments within voluminous spaces, ornamental frivolities, are only step-cousins in the realm of the great traditions of sculpture.
A common denominator of prevailing trends and styles in sculpture is to translate an idea into plastic forms, organized and rhythmic. Mystical archaism, as a style draws some artists into a world of allegorical transcendencies, colorful fabulæ, and fantastic folk-lore. Neo-classicism draws inspiration from the great sources of the golden ages of sculpture, of tranquil simplicity, arrested motion, and Hellenic beauty. Impressionism in the realm of plastic art ascends to the highest expression of psychological emotions, vibrating form within form. The dominant tendency of contemporary art is realism: social, dramatic, and humane. Ideological, emotional motivation, inventiveness, technical equipment, and, above all, intellectual grasp, are part and parcel of sculptural expression today. A requisite of creative sculpture is knowledge of the intricacies of its own media, also, knowledge of, and experience in, the allied arts: graphic, painting, and architecture.
Such an artist dwells not in veiled abstraction, nor subjects himself to immunization from reality. He faces life courageously, feels the turmoil of his surroundings and gives expression—from life, to life.
Omne vivum ex vivo.
A local painter, leaning against a local bar with several drinks too many on board, was expounding as follows: “I love people. To me there is nothing in life so interesting, so vital. Character study is my life’s blood.” He hicced.
“What do you paint?” Dave queried, somewhat awed.
“Landscapes,” bellowed the artist.
Shortly after our Volume 1, Number 1 appeared, a member of our circulation department questioned a newsboy as to how the copies were selling.
“They’re going fast,” said the newsy. “One fellow just bought half a dozen copies. Said there was an article about him in the paper.”
“Know who it was?”
“Naw, I dunno. He had a big car with a chauffeur.” He glanced at the front page headlines. “Say—maybe it was DAUMIER!”
Which reminds us of the lady from the province of West Philadelphia who said to the artist who was painting her portrait, “I read in the paper about a painting that was sold for $75,000. Is that possible?”
“Who was the painter?”
“He was . . . uh . . . name began with R.”
“Yes, that was the man! And does he really get $75,000 for just one painting? My, he must be a very rich man.”
We regret to report that Mr. Wayne Martin was confined to his bed with a sore back, following the completion of a mural upon which both he and our esteemed colleague, Mr. Henry White Taylor, were working jointly.
Following this sad news, we hastened to see this prodigious painting. We found the restaurant containing the precious art in semidarkness, its sole occupant collapsed with his head flat on a table, either asleep or in a dead faint. So help us!
ETCHINGS ON BLOCK AT FREEMAN’S
A valuable collection of original etchings was sold at Samuel T. Freeman’s galleries last Wednesday from the collections of the late Dr. Holloway and Mr. Ralph L. Freeman. The collection included examples of the work of Rembrandt, Whistler, Pennell, Zorn, Hayden, Durer, Brockhurst, Cameron, Bone, Bishop, Benson, together with a large variety of sporting prints, mezzotints and lithographs.
An important sale, its advent was eagerly awaited by collectors over the entire country. There was much spirited bidding, and among the audience were to be seen many important collectors and dealers.
WEINER ILLUSTRATES NEW FOLIO CLUB BOOK
Milton Weiner, a 1926 graduate of the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art, and now a freelance illustrator in Philadelphia, has undertaken the illustration of the Folio Club’s second publication. The book, Alphonse Daudet’s “Tartarin of Tarascon,” will be released about the first of the year.
PAINTERS WIN RESEARCH FELLOWSHIPS
Among those selected for Research Studio Fellowships at Maitland, Florida, for this year are A. L. Chanin, of Philadelphia, and Ralston Crawford, of Exton. The Fellowship, given by Mary Louise Curtis Bok, with Andre Smith as director, provides painters and sculptors with an opportunity to do experimental work under ideal conditions from January to May. The artists provide their own materials, but are given board and lodging.
Mr. Chanin will have a one-man exhibition of water colors at the Boyer Galleries beginning November 30. He was a member of a group which was sent to Europe on a Barnes Foundation Scholarship in the summer of 1934. At present he is employed by the W. P. A. in their Museum Extension Project in Visual Education.
DREXEL MUSEUM REOPENS
The reconstructed museum at Drexel Institute of Technology, housing objects from the museum collections of the college and certain Drexel relics and trophies, was opened to the public on Wednesday, November 17.
Of particular interest among the exhibits are fragments of old coptic textiles, ancient Venetian and Greek glass, an extensive collection of nineteenth century ceramics, and the Tanagra figurines. The figurines are in terra cotta and date from the fourth to the third century before Christ. They were excavated at Boetia, Greece, and were used by the Greeks as offerings to their divinities.
One wall of the museum is entirely occupied by a high tapestry entitled “The Fruits of War.” It is of Brussels workmanship and dates from the seventeenth century.
The collections have been arranged under the supervision of the Advisory Art Committee of the college, with particular attention to their study value. The members of the Art Committee are Edward P. Simon, architect, chairman; Nicola D’Ascenzo, artist and designer of stained glass; Walker Hancock, sculptor; Samuel Yellin, artist and designer of wrought iron, and Dorothy Grafly, art critic and writer, who is curator of the Drexel Museum and Picture Gallery.
On Friday afternoon, November 19, the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts held an “All Academy Get-Together Party,” to greet the recently returned Cresson Scholarship Students. Six of the students entertained the group by showing pictures taken during their stay in Europe.
Arthur Carles, picturesque Philadelphia painter, conducts a kind of clinic in his three art classes. To him come young professionals who have become entangled in a web of academic technique—have somehow lost the vitality in their work. Carles seems to know how to help such people, to bring out their best and to straighten out their difficulties. Yet he never influences their work toward his own abstract expression.
His classes now include people well-known in art circles—Helen Lloyd Horter, Esther Wirkman Margaretta Hinchman, Alan Jones, and Samuel Homsy, a Wilmington architect.
Among Carles’ former students are John Kucera, who recently did the murals for Gimbels, Leon Karp, and Morris Blackburn.
WILLIAM PENN, PROP.
Now that Philadelphia City Hall has been cleaned, you can see a wealth of sculptural detail which has been blanketed by soot for two generations. We question the esthetic merit of this expensive laundering of the great landmark. Before Mayor Wilson had its face washed, City Hall was an even more magnificent conglomeration of ugliness than it is now.
“William Penn, Proprietor,” took his place on top of our incredible geologic agglomeration of civic investiture in 1894. He is thirty-seven feet tall and weighed 53,523 pounds when he was put up, being cast in bronze. He probably weighs a little more now because some of his sections were bolted more firmly a few years ago, when it was feared he might lay his hand on some passing pedestrian five hundred and forty-eight feet below.
His benign figure was modelled by Alexander Milne Calder, a Scot by birth, who was engaged by the Architect, John McArthur. The statue of Penn crowned an amazing fecundity, for Calder did the myriad balance of the City Hall sculpture. Behold it!
Alexander Milne Calder’s son, Alexander Sterling Calder, designed the Logan Circle Fountain. Thus, the work of these two members of the family is among the most conspicuous in Philadelphia. A grandson, also an Alexander Calder, is noted for his Mobiles or Harmonic Motion designs which he has exhibited in 1934 and 1937 at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York.
It’s a strong talent that can run full tide through three generations. It must be a genuine talent. Its presence may account for our exclamation when we look at City Hall, “How awful, but how wonderful!”
HUGH H. BRECKENRIDGE
PAINTER OF PORTRAIT,
The passing of Hugh H. Breckenridge makes a gap in the thin line of really great art-teachers in America, in addition to leaving a keen sense of personal loss in the hearts of the hundreds of students, artists, and laymen, who felt the influence of his brilliant personality or appreciated his work.
He taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for forty-three years, instructing, at one time or another, in almost every branch of the Graphic Arts. With Auschutz, he conducted the Darby School of Painting, first at Darby and later continued at Fort Washington. Then he taught at the Chester Springs Summer School, a subsidiary of the Academy, until he organized his own school at Rocky Neck, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Those who were fortunate enough to study with him at his Rocky Neck studio learned to know him best. It was at this school that his progressive ideas came into full play. His Saturday Morning Reviews were exciting revelations of his keen mind. His pupils were stimulated by the intelligent display and discussion of their astonishingly varied work.
Except in the cases of a few unimportant, superficial painters who picked up this or that “trick” from him, the “Breckenridge Influence,” as a flip judgment of a school of painting, is a myth. Brecky was skilled in the art of encouraging the individual growth of his students, who attained the stature of artists in their own right. This was his true Influence, and it will make its impress on American Art for a long time to come.
The quantity and quality of Breckenridge’s painting and the long list of his prizes and honors in the art world are amazing when one considers the extent of his important teaching activities. His restless and ingenious mind made him an inveterate experimenter. Each painting he produced was an idiomatic adventure in self-expression. It has been said that his work underwent “periods,” but it is more nearly true of him that he was a linguist in paint, constantly exploring new languages of color and technique. He was equipped with an alert mind and enormous technical skill in draughtsmanship and knowledge of color. His experiments led him more and more into abstractions which were purely individual expressions, unflavored by the fashionable French influence of Matisse, Picasso, Bracque, et al. His work was his own.
In 1934, the Academy tendered him a Retrospective Exhibition which disclosed him as a profound scholar of esthetics. It is a bright spot on the gray field of Philadelphia’s artistic lethargy, that this honor was accorded to Breckenridge while he was alive.
With keen regret for his passing, the Philadelphia Art News encloses a reproduction of Hugh Breckenridge’s “Still Life,” through the courtesy of the Locust Club where it now hangs. This painting won the Locust Club Award in 1927.
PHILADELPHIANS REPRESENTED AT WHITNEY MUSEUM
Included in the Annual Exhibit of Contemporary American Painting, on view until December 12 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, are nine canvases by Philadelphia artists.
Ralston Crawford is represented by “Grain Elevators, Buffalo;” Emlen Etting, “Interior with Fruit;” Earle Horter, “Backwater, New Orleans;” Virginia Armitage McCall, “The Blade;” Antonio P. Martino, “Terrace Street Hill;” Biagio Pinto, “Checker Game;” Hobson Pittman, “Quiet Evening;” Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones, “Where Is Venus?” Francis Speight, “To Till the Ground,” and Benton Spruance, “Football at Night.”
This exhibition, the sixth in a series inaugurated in 1932, contains one hundred and fifteen paintings, each by a contemporary American artist. Instead of awarding cash prizes, the Museum prefers to use its funds to acquire outstanding works for the Museum’s collection.
A Tower of Chimes in Whitemarsh Memorial Park, Whitemarsh Valley is being designed by Paul P. Cret. No definite style of architecture has been followed, unless it be called “Paul P. Cret” style, but an attempt has been made to capture the religious quality of the Romanesque period, when an intense belief in life after death was evident.
In the Tower there is a Wishing Seat like the one in Sir James Barrie’s “The Little Minister”. The stone for this was quarried in the very place where the Minister met and courted his gypsy, Kurriemuir, Scotland. The ends of the seat incorporate stones from the paving of St. Peter’s in Rome, and from the cathedral in Panama City which was once sacked by Sir Henry Morgan, the pirate. In front of the seat is an actual meteorite upon which lovers may kneel to plight their troth in the traditional manner.
It is indeed heart-warming to find an architect who uses actual materials having a definite association with the past periods he is re-creating. While contrary to the tenets of modernity, sentiment is certainly permissible in the atmosphere of a memorial park.
Jean DeMarco, of New York City, has done the sculpture for the Tower. Where were you, Philadelphia sculptors, when Mr. Cret was scouting for someone to do this work?
GRAPHIC SKETCH TO CELEBRATE FLEISHER’S BIRTHDAY
Saturday, Nov. 27, the Graphic Sketch Club will celebrate the birthday of its founder, Samuel S. Fleisher, as it has marked the occasion each year since the club was formed at the turn of the century. Open house will be held, with an informal gathering, at which there will be vocal and instrumental selections from the music department and presentation of gifts of painting and sculpture executed by students. Mr. Fleisher, winner of the Bok Award in 1924, will reply to the tribute.
The students who are thus honoring Mr. Fleisher include both rich and poor, people who have come from all walks of life—university professors and students, a professional baseball player, a writer who wants to illustrate her own poems, nurses, maids, clerks, high school students preparing to go on to art school, middle-aged persons who come for sanctuary from home and office problems, older people who just “like to draw.”
The students themselves are all-important. It is they who look after the mechanical details, such as posing models or arranging for adequate lighting. A few of the former students who have since become famous include Leopold Seiffert, whose portrait of Mr. Fleisher hangs behind the desk in the school office, Francis Chris, recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation traveling scholarship, and Lazar Raditz, well-known portrait painter.
The faculty is always composed of men who have at one time studied at the school. At present Earle Horter is giving a course in etching, Aurelius Renzetti and Nicolo Romana, are teaching sculpture, Gerson Keyser and Nathan Margolis, drawing, Maxim Gottlieb and Lazar Raditz, painting and life, Morris Blackburn, composition and design, while Allison Moulton has formed a new fashion illustration class, meeting on Friday nights.
TRICKS OF THE TRADE
Morris Blackburn says (as a criticism of our recommendation of low priced colors in our last week’s column).
“It is no trick at all to use cheap student’s color, neither is it economy, because these colors do not cover well. However it may solve problems for painters in the case of cadmiums or other very expensive pigments.”
MODEL REGISTRY BEING COMPILED
The large group of Philadelphia models freelancing is gradually being collected by the Vogue Studio Model Registry into a permanent list which is available to the artist and photographer.
Many of the models have interesting backgrounds. Anne Trenosky was formerly chief of the operating nurses at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Rachel Stowe is a descendant of Harriet Beecher Stowe, of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” fame. Miss Stowe recently posed for the Panepinto poster for the Republican Campaign.
Marie Washington is a descendant of George Washington while Adalaide Hecht claims John Howard Payne, who penned “Home Sweet Home,” as her ancestor. W. Ward Beam, who does character work, conducted the open air early morning exercises on the beach at Ocean City for many years.
Helen Ashbrook, posed for Artist Tyler Fogg’s Miss Philadelphia Electric. . . . Jessie Smith was used by Goodell-Timanus, the Germantown Avenue photographers for Vogue Magazine hosiery advertisements. . . . Helen Prince was the bride on Albert Hampson’s Saturday Evening Post cover. . . . Mildred E. Stowe is the director of the Vogue Studio Model Registry.
Thornton Oakley, for twenty-five years secretary of the Philadelphia Water Color Club, gave the first of five weekly talks in the rotunda of the Pennsylvania Academy Galleries, Thursday afternoon, November 11. These talks, sponsored by the Fellowship of the Academy, are being held in conjunction with the 37th Annual Water Color Exhibit.
THE OLD CYNIC
I arrived in a town which previously I had never visited. I strolled to view its sights. On an eminence overlooking a broad, albeit bumpy, driveway I observed a most impressive winged building, done in roseate marbles. Its fluted columns stood above a multitude of broad granite steps which were guarded by two muscular, mythical monsters in gold-leafed bronze.
“What building is that?” I asked a gentleman seated on a bench.
“That,” said he, “is the Temple of Art. It took ten years to build and cost twenty-one million dollars. The foundations alone required the entire original appropriation. Its corridors and bronze doors are the finest in the world. They occupy more than one-third of its floor space.”
“What is on exhibition there?” I asked the gentleman.
“Magnificent collections of art,” he informed me.
“Are the works of your local artists included in the collections?”
“Oh, dear, no! At least, not many. The Temple buys the work of really famous men, and pays very large sums indeed.”
“How do your local artists make a living?”
I left the man and walked up the great flight of steps, between the columns, through the bronze-framed door. I walked along a vaulted corridor, came to a smaller door, entered a room which was puny in comparison with the corridor. Several very large windows illuminated this small room. Pictures were hung between the windows and on the other walls. I could not see those at one end because people were entering the room and fanning out from the door. Pictures on the wall opposite the windows mirrored the sky. Their content was lost. I stood this way and that, trying to see them. No use. I tried to see those hanging between the windows, but the halation of light was too strong for my eyes to penetrate.
I gave up. I went out through the hundred thousand dollar door and returned to my hotel.
COMMERCIAL ART NOTES
ETE B OYLE
Roland V. Shutts has just completed a series of black and white drawings for the Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania. Part of a newspaper campaign, they were handled through Frank R. Ewing Art Service.
What local pencil pusher, whose gentle nature makes him a ringer for Casper Milquetoast, recently gave the A. D. of a huge corporation a dressing down? Goaded by what he thought was an unjust criticism, he saw red and indulged in a tongue lashing that would have done credit to a top-sergeant. A select group of onlookers, and also the A. D. himself, regarded the speaker with a great deal of awe and no little admiration. However, no one resigned.
MIDNIGHT OIL NOTE
Paul Froelich has four water colors in the current show at the Academy. Leon Karp has had a still life invited to the Chicago annual. And just to be sociable, Rollin Smith won second prize of $1,000 in the General Outdoor Advertising Poster Contest. During the day, the above mentioned artists do layouts for N. W. Ayer & Son.
Manning Lee has done a skating scene for the Country Gentleman Christmas Cover.
R. W. Bugbee, art director of the Clement Agency, will show his color movies of the Canadian Rockies to the members of the Sketch Club, November 19.
Severo Antonelli is now working for a commercial photographic studio in Chicago. He has executed commissions for Wrigley’s and Marshall Field.
The Da Vinci Alliance will meet at the home of Mr. Antonelli, who is its president, on Friday, November 26.
McCauley Conner has just sold a cover to Liberty. This is the same young chap who sold a cover to the Saturday Evening Post in his senior year at the School of Industrial Art. Not bad for an ambitious youngster who is scarcely a year out of art school.
Horace Rose and Edward Palmer have opened a studio at 719 Walnut Street. Palmer returns to the local commercial art field after an absence of several years. Rose has just finished illustrating a story for the Country Gentleman.
Speaking of orange blossoms, Julian Marson, art director of Wanamaker’s, has joined the ranks of benedicts.
Lowell Thomas, in a recent broadcast, mentioned the line-up of a baseball game he promoted at his country place—a line-up that fairly bristled with big names. His mention of the name, Paul Webb, evoked the thought that Paul should have played ball attired as one of the bearded mountaineers that have made a national figure of this Academy trained Philadelphia cartoonist.
Gordon Deacon, the playboy and artist, has just presented one of his distinctive paper cutouts to the proprietors of the Pirate Ship Inn, his favorite bistro.
DON’T LOOK NOW DEPARTMENT
Geoffrey Grier, art director of Chilton Publications, is the only A. D. in town who sports a beard.
Nelson Gruppo, who recently was appointed art editor of Stage Magazine, marks the second time a Philadelphian has leaped into the big time in New York within a year. Joe Jones, another alumnus of the Pennsylvania Museum School of the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art, is art director of House Beautiful.
The Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art has instituted a class in lithography under the direction of Benton Spruance. The group, twelve students selected from the class in Illustration, meets on Monday afternoons.
The class originated through a special request by the students that they be permitted to work under Mr. Spruance. It is the school’s first real instruction in this field.
GEISZEL CLASS EXHIBITS
The Annual Exhibition of the Geiszel Sketch Class will be held at the Philadelphia Sketch Club, 235 S. Camac St., from November 22 to November 29.
Ada C. Williamson leaves this week for the Virgin Islands to paint.
DECORATORS PAINTING ON GLASS
Paintings on glass by Herbert C. Beagary have been placed on view at Catherine Field Comly’s, 1805 Walnut Street, to be on exhibit for a week or ten days.
Painting on glass is at once one of the oldest and one of the rarest forms of painting. The Chinese in the eighteenth century did practically the finest work in this medium that has ever been done. At the same time in the United States and in America they were using glass painting for clock ornaments.
Mr. Beagary has tried various types of paint, and he is still experimenting. Chemists invariably say that painting on glass is an impossibility—that, glass being non-absorbent, there can be no cohesive quality. But Mr. Beagary has proved that it can be done. At present he is working with opaque water color, but expects to use oils later.
Mr. Beagary is especially interested in the decorative side of art, believing that in decoration the modern artist will find one of his most fertile fields.
An exhibition of rare rugs and antique tapestries of Michaelyan, of New York and Palm Beach, was on display in the ballroom of the Warwick Hotel from November 15 to 19, under the auspices of Mr. George Lamaze, vice-president of that hotel.
Special feature of the exhibition was the replica of the widely-known Holy Ardebil Carpet of the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, measuring 34 feet long by 17 feet wide.
One of the new notes in interior decoration is the increased use of mirrors. Frequently they are used to cover the whole side of a room. Again, especially in narrow halls, they are employed to give an illusion of width.
The present trend in interior decoration is mostly late eighteenth century English and American with new notes injected, giving a fresh and up-to-date ensemble. There is, however, an apparent return of the earlier periods perhaps because of the many early English homes recently built.
HATHAWAY STAINED GLASS
A stained glass window by John W. Hathaway, young Philadelphian, has been sent to the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, in Bowie, Maryland, after a week’s exhibition at the Art Alliance.
The window contains two medallions, the upper showing Mary and Martha entertaining Christ, the lower, Boaz allowing Ruth to glean in his field. It is done in the twelfth-thirteenth century style, with over twelve hundred separate pieces of glass. Reds and blues predominate, with yellows, purples, greens and whites.
Mr. Hathaway studied for seven years with Lawrence Saint at Huntingdon Valley, helping with the eighteen windows Saint did for the National Cathedral in Washington during that period.
CHARLES E. COINER ART DIRECTOR
ETE B OYLE
An art director is a difficult person to analyze. He must be an artist, either by training or natural bent, and by the same token, he must also be a maestro, a psychologist, and a brick wall, with just a dash of Simon Legree thrown in.
The Philadelphia Art News wanted us to track one down and see what it was all about. Naturally, we thought of Charles E. Coiner, who guides the art trends and impulses of N. W. Ayer & Son.
Coiner graciously granted us an interview and accordingly we met him in his office on the ninth floor of the big white building on Washington Square, West.
His office is plainness itself. The only pictures it boasts are some superb reproductions of interiors done by a new water color process, and a pile of proofs, impressively mounted and left in lonely array against the wall.
We questioned him first about the prevalence of photographs in the advertisement pages of the magazines. Coiner believes the fault lies with the artists themselves. Too many artists have been taught by the schools to look down on advertising as a means of expression. If they could be brought to realize that a magazine page can have as much dignity as an art gallery, they could reach a much wider audience, be decently remunerated, and still retain their standing in the field of art. Coiner feels that if a Rembrandt were painting today, his works would be sought eagerly by appreciative advertisers. The scarcity of really excellent work, and the hesitancy of capable men to accept advertising commissions have forced many clients to turn to the camera, and consequently we have a plethora of color photographs.
Coiner spoke proudly of some of the men whose work has been bought for Ayer clients. We mentioned an old enthusiasm of ours, a portrait of Paderewski by the Spanish painter Zuloaga, for Steinway pianos. Sharing our feeling, the A. D. pointed out that it ranked with Zuloaga’s best work and in no way compromised the Spaniard’s integrity as an artist. Incidentally, Zuloaga received $15,000 for the painting, which must be an all time high for an advertising commission. Rockwell Kent is another big name employed for the same account, and an original work by Alexander Brook, noted modernist, has just been acquired for Steinway.
Coiner walked across the room and picked up the pile of proofs. Here was a Buk Ulreich, an abstract for a liner account. And this next one, a Cassandre, a beauty in full color for a page ad in the Saturday Evening Post. It was a Dole Hawaiian Pineapple Juice advertisement, with no copy save the name of the product and its maker. Here was another Cassandre, a full color page that ran in Fortune for a lumber account. Coiner considers the Frenchman tops in the poster field, and recalls that the now famous Ford V-8 billboard elicited very little response from his own art staff. That was the poster in which Cassandre employed a surrealist mannerism, with the manufacturer’s symbol implanted in a huge human ear. This particular work was one of Coiner’s pets, and was greeted enthusiastically by Edsel Ford and his sales staff.
For another account, the agency retained a German designer to make the engineering field tractor conscious. Going into trade journals, and approaching highly exacting prospects, the designer went modern in a manner accenting in both type and photograph the rugged characteristics of the product. It clicked beautifully.
Coiner pointed out another artist, our own Robert Riggs, as an example of one who does commercial work that ranks on a par with the work done by the same man for exhibition purposes. Riggs has an enviable reputation as a lithographer, yet his assignments are done in the same spirit as the work which is eagerly sought by discerning collectors.
James Williamson, whose ultra smart sophisticates look perfectly at home in a Ford or a Yardley of London ad, was beguiled from magazine illustration to his present preoccupation, and Philadelphian H. Rudolph Pott continues to do well by Bermuda in ads run by the island playground.
Naturally it takes an adequate art force to service the many clients on the Ayer roster, and Coiner’s office is surrounded by the glassed-in cubicles of twenty-five layout men. Four of these men are supervisors who act as liaison officers between their colleagues and the A. D.
Coiner’s task must be a pleasant one. He works with the finest materials available and his co-workers are aces in their particular field. His task is to catch the eye of the reading public and make it conscious of the products of some of the biggest names in the business and manufacturing world. That he has succeeded can be gathered from the number of medals from the Art Directors’ Annuals that Ayers has garnered with almost boring regularity.
Tall, rangy after the manner of an oarsman, Coiner suggests the Latin in appearance. He has a small mustache, a well-balanced voice and a smooth, unruffled way of using it.
A native of Santa Barbara, California, his artistic hegira eastward was interrupted by a six-year interlude in Chicago with Erwin Wasey & Co. He lives in New Hope, Pa.
Coiner has one distinction that makes him unique among his fellows, for it was he who designed the now famous Blue Eagle, symbol of the N. R. A. Although he would rather forget it and the phrenetic bit of public interest it brought him, it nevertheless gives him the honor of having designed the most widely reproduced piece of commercial art in our time.
ENRY W HITE T AYLOR
While it is impractical for some artists to prepare their own grounds, it is far more undesirable for them to use defective grounds of the trade which will impair the luminosity or durability of their work. Reputable dealers are supplying excellent grounds for painting. However, “bargains” in canvas or panels may be had which turn out badly in use because of their faulty preparation. When buying prepared canvas or panels, one should be very sure of the quality of the fabric and the ingredients of the grounds. A way of learning the finer points of good grounds is to prepare one’s own.
Home-made grounds have many advantages. One can provide himself with precisely the surface quality he likes best. He can evolve a formula suited to his personal technique. He knows exactly what goes into his grounds. He can prepare canvasses and panels of any reasonable size or shape to fit specific commissions.
We will summarize, briefly, the methods for preparing three types of ground: Chalk Ground, Tempera Ground and Full Oil Ground.
1. CHALK GROUND—Suitable for Gouache, Egg-and-Water, or Lean Tempera painted thinly.
I measure Glue Water
I measure Zinc White dry
I measure Gilder’s Whiting
Soak 2 oz. rabbit-skin glue in 1 qt. and ½ cup of cold water, overnight Warm in double boiler until glue dissolves, but make sure it does not boil.
Stretch unbleached linen well. Rub with pumice stone. Lay it flat. Brush on glue water, lightly covering as evenly as possible. As little glue as possible should soak through the canvas. Set to dry in shade at normal temperature. Dry for forty-eight hours.
Rub again with pumice stone to raise the nap.
Take I measure of Zinc White and mix with I measure of Gilder’s Whiting. Rub through sieve while both are still dry. Add slowly I measure of luke-warm glue water, stirring until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Lay canvas flat and apply mixture lightly with wide flat brush. Don’t use pressure. Ground should penetrate canvas only halfway.
Scrape lengthwise, then across, with a broad knife. Long, smooth strokes.
Add second coat, if desired, in twenty minutes, and scrape as before. One coat is usually enough.
Dry in a normal temperature for forty-eight hours.
Coat freely with a five per cent solution of Formalin to make ground waterproof. Dry for twenty-four hours.
This ground is too absorbent for thickly painted tempera or oil.
2. TEMPERA GROUND—Best for tempera painting, or tempera overpainted with putrido or oil.
I measure Glue Water
I measure Zinc White dry
I measure Gilder’s Whiting
1/3 to ½ measure Linseed Oil
Prepare canvas as for Chalk Ground. Mix Zinc White, Whiting and Glue Water as for Chalk Ground. When the mixture has cooled to hand-temperature or cooler, stir in the Linseed Oil, drop by drop.
Apply two coats, allowing first to set for fifteen minutes.
Dry for not less than ten days.
Do not treat with Formalin.
Test when dry by pressing finger into back of canvas. If not too heavily glued or too hastily dried, this ground should not crack under reasonable strain.
3. FULL OIL GROUND. NON-ABSORBENT—Best for ordinary oil painting when full gloss is desired. Unsuitable for tempera.
I measure Glue Water
I measure Lead White dry
I measure Gilder’s Whiting
I measure Linseed Oil
Prepare as for Tempera Ground. The mixture of Lead White, Whiting and Glue Water should be quite cool before oil is stirred in, drop by drop. Apply two or three coats with ten minutes between coats.
Dry for not less than two weeks.
NEWS ABOUT ARTISTS
James House, Jr., in charge of sculpture at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Fine Arts, is on a leave of absence which began last June and will end next fall.
He is spending this time deep in the Michigan wilds doing wood sculpture.
The Federal Art Project here recently received a request from Howard University, at Washington, D. C., for water colors by Sam Brown. Brown is a Philadelphian and studied at the University of Pennsylvania and the School of Industrial Art. Included in the works to be sent to Howard will be his first lithograph, called “The First Writing Lesson.” It is a study of a chubby pickaninny at a school desk, awkwardly grasping a pencil with an impish grin of triumph.
“Creative Arts” recently published an elaborate article on Philadelphian, Benton Spruance.
Eleanor Taylor Banks was awarded the first prize for still-life and the second prize for landscape at the recent Trenton Interstate Fair.
Mrs. Banks, a former resident of Trenton, has brought her talent to Philadelphia, where she resides as a member of Camac Village.
She is a former Academy of the Fine Arts student.
Earl Kerkam is exhibiting some recent paintings in the Babcock Galleries in New York, November 15 to 30.
An exhibit of fine prints and etchings from the collections of six etchers will open at the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association, Broad and Pine Streets, on Wednesday evening, November 24, in the Art Lounge. Originals and reproductions of the works of Elias Grossman, William Meyerowitz, William Margolies, Saul Raskin, Lionel S. Reiss and Libby Siegal will be represented. The exhibit will continue for two weeks.
Maurice Molarsky will have a one-man show at the Art Alliance, December 20 to January 9. This exhibit will provide a comprehensive view of Molarsky’s work during the last four or five years, including portraits, still life, seascapes and landscapes. A private showing and reception will be held on the afternoon of December 20.
On Thursday, November 18, a dinner was given at the Academy of the Fine Arts for Dr. George Walter Dawson. Mr. Dawson was one of the founders of the Philadelphia Water Color Club thirty-six years ago and has been its President for twenty-five years. He has just been awarded the Dana Gold Medal for his group of water colors in Gallery F at the Academy. Guests from many parts of the country attended the dinner.
Philadelphia public schools showing great interest in original art work . . . Now the custom for graduation classes to present their school with art gifts . . . Wilson Junior High owns largest art collection in the city . . . Students Association of the South Philadelphia High School for Girls paid for the James Blossom Farley mural done for that school . . . S. Gordon Smythe, a member of the school’s art department, is working on a mural for Overbrook High School. . . . Pupils at Simon Gratz High are also doing a mural for their school.
AYNE M ARTIN
This is the first of a series of articles dealing with the problems of the art teacher:
There are two kinds of students encountered in the Secondary School Art Class. Those whose interest is purely advocational and those who look forward to art school and a life spent in one of the varied fields of creative endeavor. Our approach to student number one is not so intensive as that to student number two, but the plan we follow is in general much the same. Each must be given the chance to experiment in as many media as possible and in a variety of fields.
At once we hear the cry of “Where will the money come from? Where will we get the time?” When I hear art teachers say this I think of one thing only: if they are competent teachers those materials will be forthcoming no matter how poor the school. I mean just that. All the recognized media of the art world and most of the processes can be had and taught with careful budgeting of the money allowed your department by the school board and by addition if necessary of materials and tools gathered from every source imaginable. You’ll surprise yourself by getting any number of things needed if you or the children want them badly enough. They’ll help. Start them collecting a kit of tools for their own use. They can ask for them for Xmas and Birthdays; they can come out of pocket money; the department can sell candy if need be to get a block printing press or a gas burner for a kiln. My point is that if there is need and desire for a thing, that thing can be had, and the teacher who discourages the interest in such things should, if he’s not too satisfied with himself, sit down to a protracted period of self-examination.
What a variety of techniques can be offered? Wood-carving and stone-cutting, tempera, oil and water color, pottery, jewelry, block cutting and many, many others—all these require materials and you will say, “How?” I can hear you, too, saying to yourself, “I, teach oils, when they object to my paper and crayon bill!”
May I suggest that you buy your paper in rolls—news, wrapping and craft—and, by the way, have you tried the wrong side of wall paper for charcoal and pastel sketches? Instead of buying prepared modeling wax, why don’t you use clay, and go directly to the original source for it, that clay you can use, too, in your potter work. The money we can save then on paper and wax we can use for brushes and carving tools or stone-mason’s chisels.
A permanent, sound tempera and oil palette may be had very cheaply. Dry pigments cost very little and an assortment of the earth colors, green, red, brown, and yellow plus a good blue and black and white permit a wide range of color possibilities. They may be ground in oil or in any of the tempera media and the result will be lasting color, full of character.
Surfaces may be prepared for student work, as many of you know, very cheaply (and for those that are interested we’ll be only too glad to answer all letters relative to this or any of the above).
There’s always wood to carve, any amount of it if you care to look for it, by haunting lumber yards and the firewood dealers, or just being around when a house is being built helps your supply. You can acquire a habit of asking, it pays. Before long you’ll have a supply at school that will warm your heart. It pays to hang around when trees are being cut down.
Last year for $0.25 I received enough applewood to keep me busy for months when it’s properly seasoned. You needn’t worry over an elaborate array of carving chisels, but if you do, go out to the Stella Elkins Tyler School and talk to Boris Blai or any of his students. They use three chisels and with the addition of a couple of wood rasps for work in the round you’ve enough to do you.
Broken slabs of bathroom marble from the plumber or pieces of building stone plus a few chisels and mallets and a group may start stone cutting. Remember if you know nothing of this art, there are people who do, and will not deny any of your children who come to them and want to learn. These pupils of yours can come back and instruct others if need be, and I know that the master will come once in a while to your school to see what you are doing, if you are interested.
I bought a strip of battleship linoleum 4 or 5 years ago, we’re still using it. It cost very little, being to the furniture man a useless remnant. As to pottery, you can build a kiln, you can find people only too willing to help you with it and the construction of the other potters furniture and in the same vein, doesn’t one of your artist friends own an etching press and doesn’t another one make jewelry.
This could go on and on. Encourage the children into new fields, explore with them the possibility of new media, if you’ve never experienced them yourself, learn them with your pupils. There are teachers who discourage interest by refusing a child’s desire to work in a method not offered by the school, but accessible with a little work. This is fundamentally wrong pedagogically. Interest is the fundamental thing to my way of thinking—and must be fostered to enable any art department to function in the way it should.
ART IN PRINT
EN W OLF
Four stars for Mr. James Laver’s “French Painting and the Nineteenth Century,” published by Scribners, as we feel it is of importance historically as well as artistically. Not only does he trace Nineteenth Century painting from its beginnings to the end thereof, but he has a way of tying it up with History that tends to make it an excitingly alive document.
Mr. Laver has put in print many things which we will be mumbling to ourself for some time. May we quote? “The admired artist is no longer the master craftsman, but the prophet. He paints no longer for the glory of God, or even for the glory of the Venetian Senate; he paints for his own glory, for the presentation of his own conception of the universe, for the promulgation of his own message.”
We commend the above to your serious consideration. Drawing and subject matter have in the last century become more and more subservient to message, for, as Mr. Laver goes on to say later, the artist’s brush has been free and his own weapon for the greater part only since the beginning of the Nineteenth Century. It is perhaps this sense of freedom that has caused the pendulum to swing over such radical fields. We found his biographies of Nineteenth Century artists pertinent as well as inclusive. The book is profusely illustrated, which, we suspect, has had much to do with the rather high price of the volume. It is a worth while book, however, and we trust you can afford to enjoy it.
We have just finished reading “Fine Prints, Old and New,” by Carl Zigrosser, published by Covici, Friede in New York. Here is a book at a price within the reach of all, that we feel is definitely worth while. It is a challenging little volume with rather disturbing and thought-provoking questions asked of the reader. May we ask you one? “Is there any difference between old and modern prints?” Mr. Zigrosser more or less stopped us on that one. Showing us equal distortion in the work of old masters and modern men.
He rather explodes the limited edition racket, going into some detail on the subject of steel facing plates. The book has much to do with practical economics and points out the much greater popularity and the wider audience that existed in the field of prints when they were within a moderate price range. It is something for our etchers to think about.
P. S. You must read “Rumbin Galleries,” by Booth Tarkington. It’s the best antidote we’ve found yet for “Art Gallery” blues.
READERS HAVE SAID—
“Being a member of the Pen and Pencil Club, I have read your first issue of the Philadelphia Art News on our files of numerous other periodicals and was very much impressed . . .
“Wishing your staff and publication an unlimited amount of success.”
George P. Fayko, Jr.
TAKE A WALK
Hi-Ho, the holidays are here again—joy and jingling register for the merchant (and it’s about time)—worry and work for the display man, but work!
At this point we would like to interpose a question: “Merchant—have you considered that even the cleverest display man must have time to plan?”
Unlike a magician, he can’t produce windows from a hat. Contact him now.
Second the MOTION!!
Display men will do well to study some of the current animated displays. This type display can lend itself admirably to Christmas and general winter windows . . . . . TOP-TIP . . . Florsheim Shoes . . . Chestnut Street.
This writer is disappointed . . . Several months ago there seemed to be an earnest movement (BONWIT TELLER and BLUM’S) toward functional decorative lighting of window displays. This movement not noticeably advanced . . . and it should. Fewer ceiling lights . . . more directional spots.
TOP-TIP . . . Geuting’s . . . Chestnut Street.
WHAT PRICE . . . DISPLAY??
Too many merchants are of the opinion that smart looking displays are expensive. This need not be true. The modern display man MUST of necessity meet budgets, but ingenuity overcomes lack of financial resources . . . Merchant Moral: Obtain the Services of the Really Clever Display Man.
TOP-TIP . . . Winfield Donat Company . . . Chestnut Street.
Bonwit’s get horsey for Christmas . . . and Stylepark, too . . . NEXT ISSUE . . . “Logical Window Display for the Average Merchant.”
LORENCE M ARTIN
Did you know:
That the Arts and Crafts Guild on Latimer Street relies on Massachusetts craftsmen for its flat silver. This is a far cry from the days of Swann, the Richardsons, the Wilsons, and those other famous Philadelphia silversmiths of the last century. Surely here is a field that some native son can glorify!
That T. Bayard Beatty, Jr., instructor in the Fine Arts at Northeast High School, and authority on Scottish Weapons, Dress, and Customs, has done the research for the booklet published by the Botany Tie people to introduce their Tartan neckwear!
And apropos of the above: that Local Jeweler is showing one of the most amazing collections of old Scottish Jewelry that has ever been our good fortune to see. When we were in his store the other day and bought a piece which seemed to us most reasonably priced, our eye was taken by a pair of candlesticks done in aluminum, that metal so congenial to both the amateur and the professional craftsman!