American Art
The Edith and Milton Lowenthal Collection
LisaMintzMessinger
TheMetropolitanMuseumof Art
TheMetropolitanMuseumof ArtBulletin
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Thispublicationwas made possiblethroughthe
generosityof the LilaAchesonWallaceFundfor
TheMetropolitanMuseumof Artestablish...
Director's Note
Edithand MiltonLowenthalwere pioneeringcollectors of con-
temporaryAmericanart, who, in a span of approxim...
Introduction
Notes to the texts can be found beginningon page 54.
InJanuary1943, when Edithand MiltonLowenthalacquired
the...
found a sympatheticand guidingspiritin EdithGregorHalpert,
owner-directorof the DowntownGallery,whomthey met during
theirf...
Edithand MiltonLowenthal(seated) withLloydGoodrich,
associate directorof the WhitneyMuseum of AmericanArt,
in the installa...
TheLowenthals'apartmenton FifthAvenue, 1991. Displayed
are Stanton Macdonald-Wright'spaintingSynchromyNo. 3
and John B. Fl...
PaintingsinTheMetropolitanMuseumofArtfrom
the EdithandMiltonLowenthalCollection
STUART DAVIS
American,1892-1964. Reportfro...
STUART DAVIS
Arboretumby Flashbulb,1942. Oilon canvas,
18 x 36 in. (45.7 x 91.4 cm). Edithand
MiltonLowenthalCollection,Be...
MARSDEN HARTLEY
American,1877-1943. AlbertPinkham
Ryder, 1938. Oilon Masonite, 28 x 22 in.
(71.1 x 55.9 cm). Edithand Milt...
MARSDEN HARTLEY
Mt. Katahdin,Maine, No. 2, 1939-40. Oilon
canvas, 30'/4 x 401/4 in. (76.8 x 102.2 cm).
Edithand MiltonLowe...
CHARLES SHEELER
American,1883-1965. Americana, 1931.
Oilon canvas, 48 x 36 in. (121.9 x 91.4 cm).
Edithand MiltonLowenthal...
CHARLES SHEELER
The Open Door, 1932. Conte crayonon
paper,mounted on cardboard,233/4x 18 in.
(60.7 x 46.7 cm). Edithand Mi...
ARTHUR DOVE
American,1880-1946. The Inn, 1942. Wax
emulsion and aluminumpainton canvas,
241/8x 27 in. (61.2 x 68.5 cm). Ed...
MAX WEBER
American,1881-1961; bornin Russia.
Hasidic Dance, 1940. Oilon canvas, 321/4x
40 in. (81.8 x 101.6 cm). Edithand ...
Selected Worksfromthe Edithand MiltonLowenthalCollection
MILTON AVERY
American,1885-1965. Artist's Daughter by
the Sea, 19...
MILTON AVERY
The Baby, 1944. Oilon canvas, 44 x 32 in.
(111.8 x 81.3 cm). The ButlerInstituteof
AmericanArt,Youngstown,Ohi...
ROMARE BEARDEN
American,1911-1988. The Agony of Christ,
1945. Watercoloron paper,18 x 24 in.
(45.7 x 61 cm). The ButlerIns...
planes,juxtaposingthem withthe more
painterly,tactile renderingofthe tablecloth,
wherewhitepainthas been thinlybrushedover...
JOSE DE CREEFT
American,1884-1982; bornin Spain.
Iberica, 1938. Granite,h. 24 in. (61 cm). The
BrooklynMuseum, NewYork.Beq...
JOSE DE CREEFT
Une Ame, 1944. Carraramarble,h. 151/2in.
(39.4 cm). Collectionof Mr.and Mrs.AlfredE.
Bernstein
UneAmewas pr...
STUART DAVIS
American,1892-1964. The Mellow Pad,
1945 and 1950-51. Oilon canvas, 26 x
42 in. (66 x 106.7 cm). The Brooklyn...
LYONELFEININGER
American,1871-1956. LunarWeb, 1951.
Oilon canvas, 21/4 x 36 in. (54 x 91.5 cm).
The BrooklynMuseum, NewYor...
JOHN B. FLANNAGAN
American,1895-1942. Jonah and the
Whale: RebirthMotif, 1937. Bluestone,
h. 35 in. (88.9 cm). The Brookly...
ROBERT GWATHMEY
American,1903-1988. Vacationist, 1945.
Oilon canvas, 501/16 x 30 in. (127.2 x
76.2 cm). The BrooklynMuseum...
MARSDEN HARTLEY
American,1877-1943. FlowerAbstraction,
1914. Oilon canvas, withpaintedframe,
493/8x 42 in. (125.4 x 106.7 ...
MARSDEN HARTLEY
Handsome Drinks,1916. Oilon composition
board,24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm). The
BrooklynMuseum, NewYork.Gift...
MARSDEN HARTLEY
American,1877-1943. The Last Lookof
John Donne, 1940. Oilon academy board,
281/8x 22 in. (71.4 x 55.8 cm)....
ModernArt,N.Y). Forallthree the scene
depictedseems originallyto have derivedfrom
the lowerthirdof Hartley'sslightlyearlie...
No. 9
No. 11No. 6
JACOB LAWRENCE
American,born1917. John BrownSeries,
1941. Gouache on paper.The DetroitInstitute
of Arts....
No. 12 No. 20
No. 12: John Brown'svictory at Black Jack
drove those pro-slaveryto new fury,and
those who were anti-slavery...
JACK LEVINE
American,born1915. CityLights, 1940. Oil
on canvas, 54 x 36 in. (137.2 x 91.4 cm).
MemphisBrooksMuseumof Art,M...
STANTON MACDONALD-WRIGHT
American,1890-1973. Synchromy No. 3,
1917. Oilon canvas, 39 x 38 in. (99 x
96.5 cm). The Brooklyn...
JOHN MARIN
American,1870-1953. Street Movement,
New YorkCity, 1932. Watercoloron paper,
255/8x 205/8in. (65 x 52.3 cm). Th...
GEORGIA O'KEEFFE
American,1887-1986. Ram's Head, White
Hollyhock-Hills, 1935. Oilon canvas, 30 x
36 in. (76.2 x 91.5 cm). ...
American art the_edith_and_milton_lowenthal_collection_the_metropolitan_museum_of_art_bulletin_v_54_no_1_summer_1996
American art the_edith_and_milton_lowenthal_collection_the_metropolitan_museum_of_art_bulletin_v_54_no_1_summer_1996
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American art the_edith_and_milton_lowenthal_collection_the_metropolitan_museum_of_art_bulletin_v_54_no_1_summer_1996
American art the_edith_and_milton_lowenthal_collection_the_metropolitan_museum_of_art_bulletin_v_54_no_1_summer_1996
American art the_edith_and_milton_lowenthal_collection_the_metropolitan_museum_of_art_bulletin_v_54_no_1_summer_1996
American art the_edith_and_milton_lowenthal_collection_the_metropolitan_museum_of_art_bulletin_v_54_no_1_summer_1996
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American art the_edith_and_milton_lowenthal_collection_the_metropolitan_museum_of_art_bulletin_v_54_no_1_summer_1996

  1. 1. American Art The Edith and Milton Lowenthal Collection LisaMintzMessinger TheMetropolitanMuseumof Art
  2. 2. TheMetropolitanMuseumof ArtBulletin V 1 .I .N ? * . ~N I, f 4 .) I S r E i - I ? . . , I' * V ,oip ilr. . , I I P . i f ^ XA. .- a. t I' f . -! /, ejI, ,/ *4. / / -A /. I . .i r , t I ! . . t I. ir ,S I' . I The Metropolitan Museum of Art is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve, and extend access to The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin www.jstor.org ®
  3. 3. Thispublicationwas made possiblethroughthe generosityof the LilaAchesonWallaceFundfor TheMetropolitanMuseumof Artestablished by the cofounderof Reader's Digest. Reprintof The MetropolitanMuseumof ArtBulletin (Summer1996) ? 1996 byThe MetropolitanMuseum of Art,1000 FifthAvenue,NewYork,N.Y.10028-0198. Design:PatrickSeymourforTsangSeymourDesign. Allphotographs,unless otherwisenoted, byThe PhotographStudioof The MetropolitanMuseumof Art. Photographers:Joseph CosciaJr.,KatherineDahab, Anna-MarieKellen,Oi-CheongLee, PatriciaMazza, CaitlinMcCaffrey,BruceSchwarz,EileenTravell, KarinL.Willis,and CarmelWilson. Photographysuppliedand photocopyrightheld bythe institutionslistedinthe captionsaccompanyingthe illustrations,except as noted. Thefollowingphotographswereobtainedfromthe LowenthalPapers,TheArchivesof AmericanArt, SmithsonianInstitution,Washington,D.C.:John Atherton,Bar Detail;DarrelAustin,TheFamily,Spirits of the Stream;PaulBurlin,TheSoda Jerker,Merchant of Pearls;DavidBurliuk,Blue Horse;JonCorbino, FightingHorsemen;BriggsDyer,Streetin Galena; RaphaelGleitsmann,StarkCounty-Winter;George Grosz,StandingNude;RobertGwathmey,Endof Day; PeterHurd,AnEveningin Spring;FrankKleinholz, FlowerVendors;WaltKuhn,TheMandolinist;Rico Lebrun,TheBeggar;LuigiLucioni,Variationsin Blue; Joseph De Martini,TheLighthouse;HenryMattson,The Wave;ElliotOrr,Heraldof Disaster;AnthonyPisciotta, EnchantedCity;Josef Presser,MagicMountain; AbrahamRattner,Temptationof SaintAnthony; MaxWeber,GoodNews. MadisonArtCenter,Wisconsin,photographsbyAngela Webster. Cover:StuartDavis,ReportfromRockport,detail.See page 8. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve, and extend access to The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin www.jstor.org ®
  4. 4. Director's Note Edithand MiltonLowenthalwere pioneeringcollectors of con- temporaryAmericanart, who, in a span of approximatelytwenty years, amassed holdingsthat exemplifythe range of American artof the 1930s and 1940s. Theirpassion and commitment as collectors were instrumentalin increasingawareness and appreciationof the worksof those decades among other collec- tors and institutions.Theybecame champions of Americanart, and theircontributionsto a heightened awareness of the merits of that artare celebrated in this Bulletinand in the accompany- ing exhibitionat the MetropolitanMuseum (October10, 1996- January12, 1997). The publicationand the exhibitionhighlight the 8 workspresented posthumouslyfromthe Edithand Milton LowenthalCollectionto the Museum, as well as a selection of fortyother paintings,sculptures, and drawingsfromtheir hold- ings now in publicand privatecollections. The 48 worksare illustratedin color and discussed in separate entries. A com- plete checklist of the 155 worksthat at one time or another constituted the Lowenthals'holdingsof twentieth-century Americanart concludes the text. The Museum received seven paintingsand a drawingfrom the Lowenthals'collection in 1992, includingtwo paintingsby StuartDavis (ReportfromRockportand Arboretumby Flash- bulb);one byArthurDove (TheInn);two by MarsdenHartley (AlbertPinkhamRyderand Mt. Katahdin,Maine, No. 2); one by MaxWeber (Hasidic Dance); and one paintingand one drawingby CharlesSheeler (Americanaand TheOpen Door, respectively).Eacheither fills a lacuna in the Museum's collection or adds strengthto alreadydistinguishedholdings. These works,and the fortyothers accompanyingthem in the exhibition,stand as testimony to the strengths of the Lowenthals'collection. We are happyto give ourvisitorsthe opportunityto examine these worksin one forum,and to express our appreciationto the Lowenthalsand their heirs, Mr.and Mrs.LouisM. Bernsteinand Mr.and Mrs.AlfredE. Bernstein.We also extend our sincere thanks to LisaMintz Messingerfor her role in mountingthe exhibitionand her authorshipof this publication. Philippede Montebello Director 3 The Metropolitan Museum of Art is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve, and extend access to The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin www.jstor.org ®
  5. 5. Introduction Notes to the texts can be found beginningon page 54. InJanuary1943, when Edithand MiltonLowenthalacquired theirfirstcontemporaryAmericanworks,they also kindleda life- longpassion forthe artof theirowntime. Theirenthusiasm led them to become staunch and earlydefenders of modernartas it developed inAmerica.Overthe yearsthe Lowenthalswere hailed as pioneersforboldlycollectingpieces fromthe 1930s and 1940s even beforethey were widelyreflectedinotherAmerican collections and museums. Throughnumerousgifts made during theirlifetimes,the Lowenthalsplayeda significantroleinincreas- ingthe presence of AmericanartinAmericanmuseums and in raisingnationalawareness of that art'sconsiderablemerits. The Lowenthals'commitmentto contemporaryAmerican artwas engendered in partbytheir manyvisitsto the large juriedexhibition"ArtistsforVictory,"held at the Metropolitan Museumduringthe winterof 1942-43. Duringits installation fromDecember 7, 1942 (the one-year anniversaryof the bombingof PearlHarbor),throughFebruary22, 1943, the Lowenthalsvisitedabout twenty-sixtimes to studythe 1,418 workson view,all bycontemporaryAmericanartists. Infact, theirfirstfourpurchases were made directlyfromthe exhibition. Reflectingon this experience in 1952, MiltonLowenthalwrote: Ourexperiencein collectingcontemporaryAmericanartcom- menced withan excitingand wondrousdiscovery-that in this magnificentcountryof ours there existed an artin whichwe couldjustifiablytakegreat pride.Inone tremendouslythrilling moment there fellfromourshoulders the weightof an apolo- getic attitudethe Americanpeople have too long felt towards the artof theirown country.No longerwere we a nationof ingeniousmachines butalso a nationpossessed of a soul and a spiriturgentlyand magnificentlyexpressingitself in canvas and stone; a nationpossessed of poets, musicians and artists equal to those of any othernation.... Eachartistspoke in his own tongue, yet all merged in one gloriousresoundingvoice crying,"Thistoo is you America."Canthere be any wonder then that withthisjoy that filledourhearts we turnedto the Americanartistforthe most thrillingexperience of ourlifetime together,the collectingof contemporaryAmericanart?...Our task is clear.TheAmericanartistdeserves oursupportand encouragement. Wemust not failhim. Thefeelings of nationalpridearoused inthe Lowenthals echoed the intentof the exhibition'sorganizers,a nonprofit groupcalled ArtistsforVictoryInc. Its members shared a desire to involveartists inAmerica'swareffort,"sothat we shall remaina free nation, dedicated to a creativeuseful life, prac- ticingthe arts and sciences of peace." One of the firstprojects EdithLowenthal,ca. 1935-40 MiltonLowenthal,ca. 1935 of this groupwas the competitionat the Metropolitan,and by all accounts the patrioticmessage of the exhibitionwas well receivedbythe publicand the press. As one reporterproclaimed, the show "reaffirmsour beliefthat it is worthfightinga warso that the individualmay continue to express himselfwithoutfear, and that we value his freedom so preciouslywe willexhibit,in the midstof war,the productof his expression." Greatlyinspiredbywhatthey had seen at the Metropolitan, the Lowenthalsbegan to frequentother NewYorkmuseums and galleries, and withina yearthey had acquiredan astounding forty-sevenworksfromsixteen differentvendors. Theyadded eighty-threemore pieces between 1944 and 1949. Afterthat, the rate of theiracquisitionsdeclined, but by 1965, when the Lowenthalsmade their last purchase, the total numberof works that had been partof theircollection had grownto an impres- sive 155 items (eighty-eightpaintings, eight sculptures, and fifty-ninedrawings).What is perhaps most astonishing, con- sideringthe qualityof theirselections, is thatthe entirecollection was acquiredforsomething under$100,000. Atfirstthey patternedtheirchoices afterthose made bythe museums and galleriesthey most respected. Itis verytellingthat thirtyof the sixty-sixartistsinthe finalincarnationof the Lowenthal Collectionwere representedinthe "ArtistsforVictory"exhibition. Evenlater,when they had developed considerableexpertise,they frequentlyacquiredspecific worksafterseeing them in museum shows. Unlikesome collectors who had curatorsrecommend purchases, the Lowenthalspreferredto consult installationson theirownto determinethe artiststhey should consider. Theirassociation withdealers, on the other hand, was much more personaland direct. Forexample, the Lowenthals 4 The Metropolitan Museum of Art is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve, and extend access to The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin www.jstor.org ®
  6. 6. found a sympatheticand guidingspiritin EdithGregorHalpert, owner-directorof the DowntownGallery,whomthey met during theirfirstweeks of purchasing.Halpert'simpressiverosterof artistsincludedsuch notables as StuartDavis,ArthurDove, MarsdenHartley,YasuoKuniyoshi,Jacob Lawrence,Georgia O'Keeffe,AbrahamRattner,Ben Shahn, CharlesSheeler, and MaxWeber.Not surprisingly,these were the same artistswho were the foundationof the LowenthalCollection.Intotal the Lowenthalsacquiredforty-sixpicturesfromHalpertbetween 1943 and 1958. Althoughthey patronizedmanydifferent galleries-Paul Rosenberg,forexample, sold the Lowenthals twenty-oneworks-their relationshipwithHalpertwas the most essential in shapingtheiraesthetic judgments and in defining the emphasis of theirholdings. Yet,inspite of the obvious influences exerted by museum standardsand galleryadvice, the Lowenthalsremainedopen to the meritsof manydifferentkindsof art.Theirselections, which were sometimes eclectic or adventurous,showed an unusual willingnessto take chances on the unproven.Inadditionto pieces bythe well-knownartistsof the period,scattered through- out the collectionare those by lesser-knownfigureson whom they took a chance, sayingthat it required"nospecial courage to buynames." Believingthat the process of collectingwas a constant learningexperience, they shaped and reshaped their holdingsmanytimes as their interests changed and developed. Understandably,as theirknowledgeof twentieth-centuryart expanded, so too didthe scope of theirholdings.Amongtheir purchases were a few paintingsfromthe 1910s and 1920s, whichindicatedsome of the earlyforces that shaped modern artinthis country,as well as a limitednumberof pieces from the 1950s and 1960s, primarilybyyoungerartists. Atthe core of the collection, however,was alwaysthe remarkableconcen- trationof artfromthe 1930s and 1940s, which, notably,they acquiredat a time when few museums or privatepatrons specialized inthis field. Americanartcreated duringthese decades was character- ized byan extraordinarydiversityinterms of style and subject matter.No one ideologyor methodologywas followedbythe majorityof artists, and manydifferentschools of thought coexisted, makingit difficultto identifya primarystyle forthe period.Whilesome artistswere willingto incorporatethe lessons of EuropeanModernismintotheirwork,others assumed a more isolationistattitude, lookingonlyto Americafor inspira- tion. Realism,Expressionism,biomorphicand geometric abstraction,Precisionism,Regionalism,Social Realism,and Installationview of the 'Artistsfor Victory"exhibitionat The MetropolitanMuseum of Art,1942-43. Atfar left is John Heliker'spainting, Boat Yards,LongIslandSound (Newark Museum), whichwas purchased by the Lowenthalsafter the close of the exhibition. Surrealismallflourishedduringthese decades, when the spirit of aesthetic freedom and experimentationwas especially strong inthe UnitedStates. Thisbroadrange of often opposing ideas was as much a productof the democratic system of free expression as it was a symptom of the turmoiland uncertaintyfelt byAmericansfac- ingthe social, political,and economic upheavals caused bythe GreatDepression and WorldWarII.Feelings of nationalism, fueled in partbygovernmentprograms-such as the Works ProgressAdministrationFederalArtProject(1935-43), which paidartiststo produce paintingsand murals-led artists of vastlydifferentschools to search forthe one subject or style that could be considered uniquely"American."A similarsense of nationalismprovidedthe organizingprinciplebehindthe Lowenthals'diverse acquisitions. The pieces the Lowenthalsacquiredreflected the zeitgeist of the 1930s and 1940s throughtheir use of color,expression- istic techniques, and fractured imagery. Landscapes and especially humanfigures interpretedmore abstractlythan real- istically dominate the Lowenthals' selections. Eventhough their aesthetic tastes favoredthe more Expressionisticstylings of PaulBurlin,Hartley,Rattner,and Weber,the Lowenthalsdid acquirea distinguishedsamplingof worksthat belonged to other contemporaryart movements. Notablyabsent fromtheir holdingsare the radicalpaintingsbythe AbstractExpressionists, which began to gain recognitionin the late 1940s and early 5
  7. 7. Edithand MiltonLowenthal(seated) withLloydGoodrich, associate directorof the WhitneyMuseum of AmericanArt, in the installationof the LowenthalCollectionat the Whitney Museum, 1952. 1950s, just as the Lowenthalswere beginning to curtail their collectingactivities. The Lowenthalsfocused particularlyon the oldergen- erationof Americanartists (those bornbetween 1875 and 1895)-such as Hartley,Davis,Weber,and Rattner-most of whom had established reputationsas avant-gardeModernists inthe 1910s and 1920s and continued in this vein for de- cades. Recognizingthe hardshipsfaced byartists in our society, the Lowenthalsmade a pointof buyingthe workof those still living(one notable exception being Hartley,whose paintings they began to collect a year after his death). Theirpurchases led to lifelongfriendshipswitha numberof prominentartists. The Lowenthalscame to representa new breed of American collector,drawnnot fromthe wealthiest sector butfromthe professionalclass, collectors whom HermonMore,directorof the WhitneyMuseum, identifiedin 1952 as being "unliketheir predecessors, [because they] do not wait untilthey have accu- mulatedgreat fortunesto seek redemptionon theirdeathbeds, byturningto art." The Lowenthalswere generous donorsto museums and lendersto exhibitions.Overthe years the Lowenthalsgave twenty-nineof theirAmericanworksto three New York-area museums-the BrooklynMuseum;the NewarkMuseum, New Jersey;and the WhitneyMuseumof AmericanArt,NewYork- in additionto sixty-sevendonations made to institutionselse- where aroundthe country.Between 1943 and 1948 they lent a total of fifteen pieces to seven differentexhibitionsat the Museumof ModernArt,NewYork.Largergroups of worksfrom their holdings were also displayed at the Modernand at the Whitneyin installationsdrawnfromNewYorkprivatecollections. Twice,in 1952 and 1981, NewYorkmuseums exhibited the Lowenthals'complete collection as itthen existed. Thefirst occasion inauguratedforthe WhitneyMuseum a series of installationsfeaturingprivatecollections of contemporaryart. The 101 worksbythirty-twoartists revealedthe breadth-and unevenness-of the Lowenthals'earlypurchases. Besides being the publicdebut of the collection, it was also the first time that the Lowenthalshad had a chance to evaluate their acquisitionsas a whole. Whilethey were "thrilled"withthe pre- sentation, the exhibitionprecipitatedtheir makingfurtherrefine- ments to their holdings.Almostthirtyyears after its debut, when the entire collectionwas again on view,this time at the BrooklynMuseum, it was considerablyreduced in size and much more specialized in its focus on earlyAmerican Modernism.The sixty-seven pieces bytwenty-threeartists in that exhibitionrepresentedthe final incarnationof the LowenthalCollection.The Lowenthalswere willingparticipants in these events and others because they firmlybelieved that it was everycollector's dutyto share his or her holdingswiththe publicso that the artists could gain widerrecognition. The Lowenthals'beneficence continuedeven aftertheir deaths, witha finalgiftof fortypaintings,sculptures, and draw- ingsfromthe estate of EdithLowenthalto the Brooklynand MetropolitanMuseums in 1992-93. Thedecision byher heirsto make a bequest to the Metropolitanof seven paintingsand one drawing-by Davis,Dove, Hartley,Sheeler, and Weber-seems particularlyfitting,since itwas here that the Lowenthalsfirstdis- coveredthe artthat wouldengage them forthe rest of theirlives. Itwas the Metropolitan'sgood fortuneto receive the eight picturesfromthe LowenthalCollectionthat best enhanced its permanentholdings. Eachacquisitionfills a crucialplace either by representing a defining moment from the artist's career not previouslyreflected in the Metropolitanor by being an outstanding example of the painter'sartistry,supplementing already existing strengths withinthe collection. Often both criteriacan be applied to the pieces received from this bequest, whichconstitutes a groupof worksof exceptionally fine quality. Inthe case of Davis,who is considered one of America's most inventiveartists, the paintingsacquired-Report from Rockportand Arboretumby Flashbulb-exemplify the key breakthroughperiodin his art, which occurredduringthe early 1940s, when color and shape exploded across the canvases accordingto his newlydeveloped "color-space"theories. Until the acquisitionof these pictures bythe Museum in 1992, this all-importantperiodof Davis'sworkhad been unrepresented in the collection. Withtheir addition,the Museum can now show the full progressionof Davis'sartisticdevelopment. Thecareerof Dove, one of America'sfirstabstractionists,is extensivelychronicledinthe seventy-seven paintingsand draw- ings of the Metropolitan'scollection. Addingto this strength, the Museumobtained his paintingTheInn. Itis a boldlyabstract compositionwithformsthat are based on images found inthe realworld.Itsunusualuse of waxemulsion and aluminumpaint as media for paintingon canvas epitomizes Dove's lifelong experimentation withtechnical means to achieve richvisual effects. Althoughthis last, highlyabstract, experimentalperiod 6
  8. 8. TheLowenthals'apartmenton FifthAvenue, 1991. Displayed are Stanton Macdonald-Wright'spaintingSynchromyNo. 3 and John B. Flannagan'ssculptureJonah and the Whale: RebirthMotif. of the artist'soeuvre is alreadydocumented inthe permanent collectionbya series of fortypostcard-sizestudies on cardboard, this is the Museum'sonlylarge-scale example on canvas. LikeDove, Hartleywas alreadyextremelywell represented inthe Metropolitan'scollection,withtwenty-onepaintingsand drawingsthat span the artist'sentirecareerfrom1909 to 1941. These picturestouch on most of the majorthemes that he explored-abstract Cubistportraits,groupfigurestudies, still lifes, and landscapes of Maine,Provincetown,and New Mexico. Addingto this extraordinarystrength,the two oil paintings receivedfromthe LowenthalCollection-Albert PinkhamRyder and Mt.Katahdin,Maine, No. 2-contribute two characteristic subjects not previouslyseen inthe Museum'sholdings,an "archaic"portraitand a late, expressionisticMainelandscape. Eachpaintingis a masterworkof its owngenre. Amongthe verybest pieces inthe LowenthalCollection are the two interiorscenes bySheeler-a largeoil painting, Americana,whichis an icon of the period,and a small, exqui- sitely beautifulblack-and-whitecrayondrawing,TheOpenDoor. Datingfromthe early1930s, both picturesepitomizethe sharp clarityof the artist'sPrecisioniststyle at the heightof his mas- tery.Theirinclusioninthe Metropolitan'scollection is warranted not onlybecause of theirsuperioraesthetic qualities, butalso because the Museumwas sorelymissinga majorexample of Precisionism,a lacunafilledbySheeler's impressivecanvas. Weber'slargefigurativepaintingHasidicDance completes the giftmade to the Museum. Executedin 1940, duringthe lyri- callyexpressionisticphase of the artist'slate career,the compo- sitionconveysthe ferventmotionsof a groupof OrthodoxJews. Althoughotheraspects of Weber'svariedoutputare recordedin the Metropolitan'sholdings,there has neverbeen an opportunity to show his interpretationsof religioussubject matterbeforenow. The Lowenthals'livingroom, 1991, showing (fromleft to right) CharlesSheeler's Americana,MarsdenHartley'sGulland EveningStorm, Schoodic, Maine, No. 2, and MaxWeber's Russian Ballet. The Lowenthalsconsidered collecting "themost thrilling experienceof ourlifetimetogether"and "anintegralpartof our existence."When, inthe late 1950s and 1960s, illhealth began to deter Miltonfromparticipatingfullyinthe process of looking and learning,the couple significantlydecreased theiracquisi- tions, finallydecidingto stop altogetherin 1965. Fromthen on the Lowenthalsderivedenjoymentfromtheircollection byliving withitand sharingitwithothers, primarilythroughloans. Despite the largenumberof giftsthey had made priorto that date, the Lowenthalsnow preservedthe integrityof theirholdingsbykeep- ingthem together intheirpossession. Theyproudlydisplayeda largeportionof theircollection intheirhome, understandingfully that, as Miltonsaid, "anobjectof artis much likea humanbeing. Itmust be wantedand lovedbysomeone. Hiddendeep ina vault, unknownor unremembered,it loses its reason forbeing." The Lowenthalswere motivatedbya deep-seated patriotism intheirpassionate and persistentdefense of the arts inAmerica. Elevatingthe public'sperceptionand appreciationof the essen- tialcontributionsmade bycontemporaryartiststo society gave purposeto theircollection and theirmanyarts-relatedactivities. Because of theirfocus on contemporaryworksthe Lowenthals may be considered pioneers. Yet,beyondthe social or political implicationsof these facts, what distinguishedthe Lowenthals most as collectorswas theirgenuine loveforthe artintheircare and the respect they felt forthe people who created it.These feelings ledto a desire to share the worksthey owned withas broadan audience as possible, even beyondtheirown lifetimes. The recent giftto the Metropolitan,in additionto their gifts to other museums aroundthe country,ensures that the legacy of Edithand MiltonLowenthalwillcontinueto remindmuseum goers of the importantcontributionsmade byAmericansto the history of modernart.
  9. 9. PaintingsinTheMetropolitanMuseumofArtfrom the EdithandMiltonLowenthalCollection STUART DAVIS American,1892-1964. Reportfrom Rockport,1940. Oilon canvas, 24 x 30 in. (61 x 76.2 cm). Edithand MiltonLowenthal Collection,Bequest of EdithAbrahamson Lowenthal,1991 (1992.24.1) BoughtinFebruary1944, ReportfromRockport was the firstworkbyDavisto be purchasedby the Lowenthals.Threemonthsafteracquiringit, the Lowenthalslentthe paintingto the Museum of ModernArt'sfifteenth-anniversaryexhibition, "ArtinProgress,"andthe followingyear (1945-46) itwas againon viewthere in Davis's retrospective. AlongwithArboretumbyFlashbulband TheMellowPad (see page 22), also inthe LowenthalCollection,ReportfromRockportis consideredto be among Davis'smost impor- tant canvases fromthe 1940s. Itis one of the keyworksin his career because itwas the first to utilizehis newlyarticulated"color-space" theory.Inthis theorycolorcould be used to indicatespatial relationshipsthroughits posi- tioningnextto othercolors.As Davisobserved, "Itis impossibleto puttwo colorstogether, even at random,withoutsetting up a number of otherevents. Bothcolors have a relative size: eitherthey are the same size orthey are not. Andthey are eitherthe same shape or they are notthe same shape." Some colors advanced, whileothers receded, whichsug- gests the illusionof a three-dimensionalspace on a two-dimensionalsurface. Inthis paintinga profusionof colors, lines, shapes, and decora- tive patternsalmost obscures identificationof the outdoorscene that inspiredthe artist.The setting is the town square at Rockport,Mass- achusetts, whichis filledwithgas pumps, trees, and storefronts.Agarage is centered inthe distance. Thedisjunctionof so many elements and colors successfully conveys the vitalityof modernAmericanlife. 8
  10. 10. STUART DAVIS Arboretumby Flashbulb,1942. Oilon canvas, 18 x 36 in. (45.7 x 91.4 cm). Edithand MiltonLowenthalCollection,Bequest of Edith AbrahamsonLowenthal,1991 (1992.24.2) Arboretumby Flashbulbwas the second paintingby Davisto be purchasedbythe Lowenthals.Followingits acquisitionin January1945, they agreed to lend it and ReportfromRockportto Davis's 1945-46 retrospectiveat the Museumof Modern Art,NewYork.Althoughnot yet partof the Lowenthals'collection, Landscape (1932 and 1935; see page 21) was also in this show and was used to illustratethe frontcover of the exhibitioncatalogue. Paintedinthe springand summer of 1942, Arboretumby Flashbulbis a lively example of the expanded role played by color in Davis'sworkof the 1940s. Here,the entire composition is fracturedinto manysmall, irregularshapes and patterns, painted in multiplebrightcolors. The effect is vibrant and kaleidoscopic, reverberatingwiththe rhythmsof Americanjazz and the dynamism of moderntravel.Althoughthe particularsof the scene are almost unrecognizable,the imagerywas inspiredby nature-the canvas is one of three related landscapes painted by Davis in 1942-43 (the other two are UrsinePark [collection unknown]and Ultra- Marine[PennsylvaniaAcademyof FineArts, Philadelphia]).Daviswrotethat this painting was based on "agardenwhich I loved. The pictureis an objective recordof manyof the forms and perspectives whichwere present there....But that is not all, because I have integrated...manyother observations, remote in time and place." References to trees (left and right),an aloe plant (lowerright),a red- and-blackbird(center left), and blue water and sky have been discerned among the abstract shapes, and the single yellow band with red star has been identifiedas the illuminatedflashbulbof a camera. 9
  11. 11. MARSDEN HARTLEY American,1877-1943. AlbertPinkham Ryder, 1938. Oilon Masonite, 28 x 22 in. (71.1 x 55.9 cm). Edithand MiltonLowenthal Collection,Bequest of EdithAbrahamson Lowenthal,1991 (1992.24.4) Hartley'sportraitof AlbertPinkhamRyder (1847-1917) is a profoundlymovingtribute to this Americanartist,whom Hartleygreatly admiredand with whom he closely identified. Ryder'sreclusive, isolated existence, deep melancholy,and financialpovertystrucka par- ticularlysympatheticchordwithHartley,who suffered from these same circumstances throughout his life. His first encounter with Ryder'sartworkwas in a gallery in 1908, followedclosely in 1909 by a shortvisitto the olderartist'sstudiowhileboth men were living in NewYorkCity.ForHartley,the memories of these briefevents lasted a lifetime. The ex- ample of Ryder'slife and workprovidedinspi- rationfor Hartley'screativity.LikeRyder,Hartley triedto injecthis paintingswitha romantic mysticism.Ryderwas also the subject of sev- eral of Hartley'swritings:two majoressays, publishedin 1917 and 1936, two smaller unpublishedpieces, and a poem titled "Albert Ryder,Moonlightist." Ryder'sactual physical appearance in Hartley'spaintingsoccurredjust this once. Whilespending several months in Vinalhaven, Maine,Hartleybeganto producea numberof stark, iconic, figurativecompositions and por- traits, some based on memory,that he called archaic. Hisportraitof Ryder,created from thirty-year-oldmemories, is partof this group, although it is uncharacteristicallymono- chromatic. Ryder'sdeep browneyes stare out vacantlyfrom underdarkbushyeyebrows, which Hartleysaid were "likelichens over- hangingrocksof granite."Ryder'slongwhite beardis tucked inside his graywool coat like a scarf, and his tight knitcap is pulled low over his forehead, "alla matterof protective colorationwithoutdoubt, havingsomething to do with Ryder'sshyness." Althoughtradi- tional portraitureheld littleinterestforthe Lowenthals,they were evidently moved by Hartley'sattempts to capture not onlya physi- cal likeness but a psychological one as well. Theirpurchaseof this paintingin 1946 was followedin 1950 bytheiracquisitionof Hartley's portraitof John Donne (see page 28). 10
  12. 12. MARSDEN HARTLEY Mt. Katahdin,Maine, No. 2, 1939-40. Oilon canvas, 30'/4 x 401/4 in. (76.8 x 102.2 cm). Edithand MiltonLowenthalCollection, Bequest of EdithAbrahamsonLowenthal, 1991 (1992.24.3) Between 1939 and 1942 Hartleycreated more than eighteen paintingsof MountKatahdin, which led himto characterizehimselfas the "portraitpainter"of the site. (Hartleypreferred the Indianspelling "Ktaadn,"whichwas also used byThoreauinTheMaineWoods.)Located in BaxterState Parkin north-centralMaine, it is the highestmountainin Hartley'shome state. He visitedtherewitha guideforeight days in mid-October1939. Thetripinvolvedan eighty- mile car ride and a four-mile hike through arduousterrain,undertakenmostlyinthe dark. Forthe sixty-two-year-oldartist, however,it was a spiritualreawakeningand providedhim witha potent motiffor his late-periodwork. Hartleystayed on KatahdinLakeina log cabin at CobbsCampinthe park.Fromhis roomhe had a viewof the water,and from the edge of the lake he could lookuptoward BaxterPeak,the summitof the mountain.His firstpicturesmade at the scene were drawings andsmalloilsketches. Later,immediatelyafter returningto Bangor,Maine(andforthree years thereafter),the artistused these preliminary sketches and his memories to paintthe larger canvases on thistheme. Mt.Katahdin,Maine, No. 2 was the second inthe series. ByFebruary 1940 Hartleyhadcompletedfourmore.None of the MountKatahdincompositions replicate exactlywhat he saw. Rather,the artisttook some libertiesinalteringthe placement or per- spective of certainkeyelements. Allof the works,however,depictthe mountainfromthe northeast,so that its most recognizableconical shape is clearlysilhouettedagainstthe sky. Belowit, inthe immediateforeground,are the lake, rollinghills,and trees. Differencesamong the paintingsoccur in Hartley'smanipulation of spatial perspective and in his depictions of color,light,and changingweatherconditions. Inthis versionof Mt.Katahdinthe sky, clouds, mountain,hills,and lakeare all pre- sented as separate large,flatshapes. Eachis clearlydefined byits precise formand color. Thestrongautumnalredof the intermediate hillsis dramaticallyset off against the deep blues of the lake, mountain,and sky.The bright whiteclouds and the thinstripof whitespray aroundthe shoreline providethe onlylight notes inthis somewhat subdued yet majestic viewof the mountain.Itseems to exemplify Hartley'ssentiments about the beautyand wonderof the place and to conveythe spiritual meaningthat he found in nature:"Ihave achieved the 'sacred' pilgrimageto Ktaadn Mt....l feel as if Ihad seen Godforthe first time-I findhimso nonchalantlysolemn." 11
  13. 13. CHARLES SHEELER American,1883-1965. Americana, 1931. Oilon canvas, 48 x 36 in. (121.9 x 91.4 cm). Edithand MiltonLowenthalCollection, Bequest of EdithAbrahamsonLowenthal, 1991 (1992.24.8) Between 1926 and 1934 Sheeler produced a series of seven paintings-among them Americana-that depictthe interiorof his home and his prizedcollectionof earlyAmericanfur- nishings(includingShakerpieces), whichhe hadbegunto acquirebythe mid-1910s. Dominatedbya profusionof preciselyrendered objects-but no people-these roomsare oddlyfrozenintime andemotionallydistant. Theyare bothan intimateand up-close por- trayalofthe artist'slivingspace anda more generaland impersonalstatement about nationalismandthe values of home andcrafts- manship.Americanamayhave been based on one ofthe interiorphotographsthat Sheeler tookof hisSouth Salem, NewYork,house about 1929, some shots ofwhichweretakenfroman elevatedvantagepoint.(Sheelerworkedfora whileas a professionalphotographerandoften made photographsofthe same subjects that he painted.)Fromthe highperspectiveofthe pho- tographsthe floorandfurnitureseem to be tippedupwardtowardthe viewer,makingthem lookoff-balanceand rathertwo-dimensional. Thissame effect is achieved inAmericana,in whichthe longtrestletable andtwoside benches seem to hoverlikeflatboardsoverthe otherfurnitureandthe tiltedfloor.Theconflict- inggeometricand linearpatternsofthe four rugs,two pillows,wovensofa covering,back- gammonset, and cast shadows addto our visualdiscomfort,as does the unusualcropping of objects, whichobscurestheiridentitiesand confuses theirspatialposition.Theverityof Sheeler's realism,however,makes us willing to accept these inconsistencies. Thissuperbexampleof Precisionistpainting was acquiredbythe Lowenthalsabout 1946 fromthe DowntownGallery(twoyearsafterthey purchasedSheeler's drawingTheOpenDoor). Priorto the purchasethe paintinghadalready acquireda lengthyexhibitionhistory,including Sheeler's one-man show at the Museumof ModernArtin1939. Likethe artist,EdithHalpert (ownerof the DowntownGallery,NewYork, whereSheeler's workhad been shownsince 1931) also appreciatedearlyAmericanhandi- craftsandsold fineAmericanfolkartinaddition to paintingsanddrawings.Uponhearingfromthe Lowenthalsthattheyhadboughtthispainting, Sheeler respondedenthusiasticallyina letter: "Iam gladthatAmericanahas a good home for itis one of myfavoritesamong mywork." 12
  14. 14. CHARLES SHEELER The Open Door, 1932. Conte crayonon paper,mounted on cardboard,233/4x 18 in. (60.7 x 46.7 cm). Edithand MiltonLowenthal Collection,Bequest of EdithAbrahamson Lowenthal,1991 (1992.24.7) Sheeler was a versatileartistwho movedeasily between the mediaof painting,drawing,print- making,photography,andfilm. Forhim, pho- tographywas not onlya tool used to derive compositionsforhis paintingsand drawingsbut was also an independentartformthat often preceded byseveralyears his productionof relatedpaintings.Inthe case of TheOpen Door,drawnin 1932, Sheeler returnedto a sequence of twelve photographshe had made about1917 of his stone cottage in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.Thehouse, builtin 1768 bya Quakersettler,was used bySheeler and his artist-friendMortonSchambergas a summer and weekend studio between 1910 and 1918, when Schambergdied, and thereafterby Sheeler alone until1926. As inthe photographuponwhichthis conte crayondrawingis closely based, Sheeler presents a small cornerinterioroccupied by two open doors, a darkenedwindow,and a small mirror.Thestrongrectilinearcharacterof the house, withits widefloorboards,thickceil- ingbeams, and plankdoors, is emphasized in the tightlycroppedscene. Thedramaticartifi- cial lightingof the photograph,whichcreates strongchiaroscuroeffects and bringsout every flawinthe plasterwalland door,is somewhat softened inthe drawing.Withartisticlicense, Sheeler here has cleaned upthe room's defects and eliminatedcertainsmall architec- turaldetailsthat detractfromits pristinequality and dramaticpower. TheOpenDooris one of aboutsixteen conte drawingsSheeler made between 1930 and 1937 that deal withmysteriouslightand shadows (fourof them, includingthis one, were created in 1932). Theexquisiterangeof tones andtexturesachieved solelywithblackconte crayonattests to Sheeler's masteryof the medium,which,he noted, was used "tosee howmuchexactitudeIcouldattain." 13
  15. 15. ARTHUR DOVE American,1880-1946. The Inn, 1942. Wax emulsion and aluminumpainton canvas, 241/8x 27 in. (61.2 x 68.5 cm). Edithand MiltonLowenthalCollection,Bequest of Edith AbrahamsonLowenthal,1991 (1992.24.5) Dovewas one of three artistswhom photogra- pher-turned-art-dealerAlfredStieglitzregularly showed in his influentialNew YorkCitygal- leries (ca. 1910-19). The other two were GeorgiaO'Keeffeand John Marin,who are also represented inthe LowenthalCollection.The worksof these three artists,togetherwiththose of MarsdenHartley,CharlesDemuth, and Max Weber(whose paintingswere also shown by Stieglitz,butforfeweryears), exemplifythe directionof avant-gardeAmericanModernism in the firstquarterof the twentieth century. AfterStieglitzdied in 1946 and his gallery closed, EdithHalpertat the DowntownGallery began to show the workof Dove (who had recently died), Marin,and O'Keeffe.The Lowenthals'close association withthe Down- town Gallerybeganwiththeirpurchasethere of RaymondBreinin'sAtGolgotha(ButlerInstitute of AmericanArt,Youngstown,Ohio)in 1943. Theiradmirationof Halpert'sstrongcommit- ment to contemporaryAmericanart led them to frequent her galleryon a regularbasis. The resultwas that manyartistsin herstable found a place in theircollection, if onlywitha single work(as inthe case of Dove and O'Keeffe). Dove's paintingThe Inn entered the LowenthalCollection in November 1947, after being includedintwo exhibitionsat the DowntownGallery:a one-man show inJanuary 1947 and a groupexhibitionin September- October 1947. (Priorto that, Stieglitz had shown it in 1942.) The paintingis an impor- tant late workby Dove, who since the 1910s had consistentlyabstractedformsfromnature. Althoughits shapes are difficultto identify,the composition suggests an aerial view from a windowonto a landscape, perhaps lookingout of or towardone of the two inns near Dove's house in Centerport,LongIsland.Aerialpho- tographsof the neighborhood,taken bythe owner of one of the inns, were shown to Dove in 1940, and his paintings of that year reflected this new perspective. Made two years later,TheInnmay be a returnto this intriguingpoint of view. Dove's experi- ments with combining various media (here, oil and aluminumpaints and wax emulsion), particularlyduringthe last years of his life, and his continuoussearch forthe essential distillationof formseem to have culminated in this complex and enigmatic picture. 14
  16. 16. MAX WEBER American,1881-1961; bornin Russia. Hasidic Dance, 1940. Oilon canvas, 321/4x 40 in. (81.8 x 101.6 cm). Edithand Milton LowenthalCollection,Bequest of Edith AbrahamsonLowenthal,1991 (1992.24.6) HasidicDance was acquiredinthe Lowenthals'firstinspiredyear of collecting (1943), duringwhichthey purchasedforty- seven worksfromsixteen differentgalleries and arts organizations.Itwas the most expen- sive workthey boughtthat year,and marked theirfirstdealingwith PaulRosenbergand Company,fromwhomthey wouldalso acquire importantpaintings by Avery,Hartley,and Rattner.TheLowenthals'admirationforWeber's workbegan withthis initialpurchase, and they remainedgreat friendswiththe artistfor almost two decades. Theirpapers contain numeroussmall woodcuts made byWeber that were sent out as greetingcards through- out the years. In1961 MiltonLowenthal wrote a eulogyforWeberthat is filledwith personal reminiscences and passionate rever- ence forthe artist'sdedicationto his work: "Forhimartwas a temple, a holyof holies, it was life itself, to be approachedwith pietyand devotion.Totreat it otherwise, a desecration." HasidicDance is a primeexample of Weber'smature, expressionisticstyle, which emerged about 1940 and in whichfluidlines define the loosely drawnelements of the compositionand color is intensified.Inthese picturesJewish subjects-prophets and Talmudicscholars-and women at home pre- dominate, reflectingboth Weber'sstrongcul- turalidentityand his happyhome life. Hasidic Dance, paintedwhen the artistwas fifty-nine years old, presents a vividmemoryfrom Weber'searlychildhoodin Russia. Six bearded OrthodoxJews are engaged in a ferventdance of religiousecstasy. The men are dressed in traditionalblack garb with tall black hats. As membersof the Hasidicsect, originallyfounded in Poland in the eighteenth century, these pious men express theirjoyous praise of God throughmusic and dance. Theymove together in a trancelikestate, arms and faces stretched upwardtowardthe heavens. Afterthe Lowenthalsboughtthis painting,Webergave them a copy of his poem "MelodicRage Hebraic,"which recounts a similarscene: "Loudervoices, / Louderdrums,/ Loudercym- bals... / Theirbodies leap in fittingtime... / Andtheirsouls again illumined." 15
  17. 17. Selected Worksfromthe Edithand MiltonLowenthalCollection MILTON AVERY American,1885-1965. Artist's Daughter by the Sea, 1943. Oilon canvas, 36 x 42 in. (91.5 x 106.7 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, NewYork. Bequest of Edithand Milton Lowenthal,1992 Avery'spaintingcombines two of hisfavorite subjects: his onlychild, March(hereabout eleven years old), and a tranquilbeachfront setting complete withshells, gulls, and rippling water.Thecanvas is characteristicof Avery's maturestyle, whichincorporatesa naiveren- deringof formwitha Modernistflatteningof space and a generalsimplificationof colorand pattern.Themutualartisticinfluenceof the friendshipbetween Averyand the somewhat olderartistMarsdenHartley,whichbegan in 1938, encouragedthe developmentof this style. AlthoughAveryoften paintedseascapes of Gloucester,Massachusetts, and various locales in Maine,this particularcomposition was inspiredbya tripthat he took to the Gaspe PeninsulainQuebec, Canada,duringthe summerof 1938. Therehe conceived of the paintingGulls,Gaspe (AddisonGalleryof AmericanArt,Andover,Mass.), an amusing tableau of hungryseagulls encirclingan array of cut-upfish. Theimageryis remarkablysimi- larto the moresomber interpretationpainted byHartleyin his 1938-39 GiveUs ThisDay (Shaklee Corporation,San Francisco),which was intendedas a memorialto three young men lost at sea. WhenAveryrevisitedhis own 1938 compositionfiveyears laterinArtist's Daughterbythe Sea, he paidtributenot only to his belovedchildbutalso to hisfriend Hartley,who had died on September 2, 1943. 16
  18. 18. MILTON AVERY The Baby, 1944. Oilon canvas, 44 x 32 in. (111.8 x 81.3 cm). The ButlerInstituteof AmericanArt,Youngstown,Ohio.Giftof Mr. and Mrs.MiltonLowenthal,1955 In1943 Averyjoined the prestigiousNewYork galleryPaulRosenbergand Company,with whichhe was affiliateduntil1950. The period of that association was markedby a prolific outpouringof work,a consolidationof his artisticstyle, and a new sense of financial security,as he receiveda stipend and his pic- tures sold. Between 1943 and 1945 alone Averycreated morethan 228 oil paintings, in additionto numerousdrawingsand water- colors. Duringthose two years Avery'swork was seen in several one-man and group shows and museum exhibitions,whichgener- ated sales such as the Lowenthals'purchase of two oils in 1944 from PaulRosenbergand Companyand a gouache on paper in 1945 fromthe KootzGallery(TheRooster, ca. 1943, whichthey gave to the Butler Instituteof AmericanArt,Youngstown,Ohio). Paintedin 1944, TheBabytypifiesAvery's worksof this period:preciselystructuredcom- positionsof broad,flat colorareas contained withinsharplydefined edges, withfew descrip- tive details, patterns,ortextures. Here,a small faceless infantrests diagonallyacross a blanket,proppedup against an armchair. UnlikeAvery'sportraitof his daughter,March, on the beach, this child is not identifiedby facialfeatures or a name, butthere is a famil- iarintimacyto the scene that suggests that Averybased the figureon a real baby-per- haps a friend'sor relative's-or on the many earlierdrawingsand paintingshe made of his own daughter. WILLIAM BAZIOTES American,1912-1963. White Silhouette, 1945. Oilon canvas, 36 x 42 in. (91.4 x 106.7 cm). Collectionof the Newark Museum, NewJersey.Giftof Mr.and Mrs. MiltonLowenthal,1951 Ofthe sixty-fiveartistsrepresentedinthe LowenthalCollection,Baziotesis the onlyone who can be classifiedas an active memberof the avant-gardeAbstractExpressionistgroup, whichhas exertedan enormous influenceon the directionof Americanartsince the mid- 1940s. Hiswork,however,often remainedout- side the mainstreamof AbstractExpressionism, since itassumed neitherthe gesturalapplica- tion of paintthat made headlinesforJackson Pollockand Willemde Kooningnorthe extreme minimalismthat characterizedthe maturework of MarkRothkoand BarnettNewman.Rather, Baziotesremainedconstant inusing biomor- phicand anthropomorphicimagery,whichhe had adoptedfromSurrealism,and in his intent to portraymythicand primevalsubjects. Such steadfast commitmentto one's own vision,despite outside pressures, wouldhave appealed to the Lowenthals(whosaw them- selves as pioneeringcollectors inthe fieldof contemporaryAmericanart)and mayhave promptedtheiracquisitionof WhiteSilhouette in 1945. Inthis composition Baziotes placed a large,white, irregularlyshaped figureinthe immediatecenter foregroundof a darkened space. Itsshape suggests bothanimaland humanforms but is clearlyneither.Theprece- dents forthis type of image maybe found in the artist'sknowledgeof Precolumbianobjects at the AmericanMuseumof NaturalHistory, NewYork,and inthe artof Joan Miroand Pablo Picasso, regularlyshown in NewYorkmuseums and galleriesinthe 1940s. Picasso's Minotaur prints,inwhichman and bullare literallyjoined intoone mythiccreature,offereda particularly close exampleforBaziotesto follow.Thesur- realovertones and starkabstractness of this paintingmake itverydifferentfromthe other worksinthe LowenthalCollectionand may explaintheirdecision to place WhiteSilhouette at the NewarkMuseumin 1948, three years afterthey had acquiredit. 17
  19. 19. ROMARE BEARDEN American,1911-1988. The Agony of Christ, 1945. Watercoloron paper,18 x 24 in. (45.7 x 61 cm). The ButlerInstituteof AmericanArt,Youngstown,Ohio.Extended loan fromthe Estate of EdithA. Lowenthal In1945, afterseeing the horrorsof warfirst- handforthree years inthe infantryduring WorldWarII,Beardencreated a series of twenty-fouroils and watercolors,titledThe Passion of Christ,that was meant to convey the sufferingof humanityand the possibilityof redemption.Theallusionto the Passionwas not strictlyreligiousbutalso humanistic,as the events inChrist'slifewereto be interpretedas universalsymbolsforall humanexperience. Referencesto ancient and contemporarylitera- ture (such as Homer,the Bible,Rabelais,and GarciaLorca)frequentlyinspiredBeardendur- ingthe mid-to late 1940s. Exhibitedjust after itwas producedin 1945-first inWashington, D.C.,and Parisand then in NewYork-the Passionof Christseries was botha criticaland financialsuccess forthe thirty-four-year-old artist. Exhibitedat the KootzGalleryOctober 8-27, 1945, and markingBearden'sfirstone- manshow at a mainstream NewYorkgallery, the picturessold immediately,with purchases made byDukeEllington,Samuel A. Lewisohn, RoyR. Neuberger,the Lowenthals,and the Museumof ModernArt,among others. TheAgonyof Christ,whichis the onlywork byBeardeninthe LowenthalCollection,typifies his dramatic,graphicapproachto the entire series. Bolddivisionsof space, strongdiagonal lineswithsharpangles, and extremedistor- tions of the abstractedfigurescontributeto the emotionalimpactof the narrative.Thesuffering of Christis here heightened bythe agonized backwardarchof his bodyand head and the extremetension of his bent leg. BYRON BROWNE American,1907-1961. Still Lifewith City Window,1945. Oilon canvas, 47 x 36 in. (119.4 x 91.4 cm). WhitneyMuseumof AmericanArt,NewYork.Giftof Edithand MiltonLowenthal Between 1944 and 1945 the Lowenthalscol- lected fourpaintingsbyBrowne(twodating from1943, one from1944, andthe one shown here).These picturesdemonstrateBrowne's strongcommitmentto an abstractidiom,which hademergedinhisartby1930. Althoughhe had hadfouryearsoftraditionalacademic training at the NationalAcademyof Design in NewYork (1924-28), his paintingsreflectthe factthat on his own he had studied Cubistworksby GeorgesBraque,JuanGris,and PabloPicasso, whichcouldbe seen (beginningin1927) inthe A. E.GallatinCollectionat NewYork'sGalleryof LivingArtandinperiodicalssuchas Cahiersd'Art. Some of hisabstractionsmayappearto be nonobjective,buttheywere rarelyexecuted withoutmakingreferenceto an actualobjector person.Threeofthe Brownepicturesacquired bythe Lowenthals-those purchasedin1944- arefigurativesubjects:a woman recliningon a beach, a personreading,and a head of a man. Thefourth,StillLifewithCityWindow,acquired in1945, is a largestudyof objects placedon a table inan apartmentroomand is one of many still-lifesubjects that he executed inthe 1930s and 1940s. Brownedepicts the tabletopas ifitwere precipitouslytiltedupwardtowardthe viewer. Fillingthe lowerportioniswhatappearsto be some sortof elaboratebasket, decoratedwith two crisscrossingbranchesanddiamond- shaped pieces. Atthe upperend areseveral objects-some silhouetted, othersdescribedin moredetail-a few of whichcan be identified. Amongthem are a footed bowlcontainingthree apples (at left),an open bookand a single apple (atcenter), and a talldecanter (attop center). Inhisquasi-CubistanalysisBrownedepicts solidformsandtheirshadows as flatgeometric 18
  20. 20. planes,juxtaposingthem withthe more painterly,tactile renderingofthe tablecloth, wherewhitepainthas been thinlybrushedover darkunderpainting.Atallverticalwindow occupies the lefthalfofthe background,and throughitcan be seen the relatedgeometry ofthe city'sarchitecture,illuminatedbya full moon.Althoughthe subjectof Browne's paintingis clearlya still-lifearrangement,his toweringconstructionoftable andobjects also suggests the formand monumentalpresence of a humanfigure. Whenthis picturewas shown inBrowne's 1946 exhibitionat KootzGalleryinNewYork, itwas singledoutforpraiseinvariousarts reviews.Unlikethe otherthree Brownepaint- ingspurchasedbythe Lowenthals,whichwere presentedto variousinstitutionswithintwo or threeyearsoftheiracquisition,StillLifewith CityWindowremainedintheirpossession until 1957, when itwas givento the Whitney Museum. PAUL BURLIN American,1886-1969. Homunculus, 1947. Oilon canvas, 42 /8 x 297/8in. (107 x 76 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, NewYork.Giftof the Edithand MiltonLowenthalFoundationInc. Withinthe LowenthalCollectiononlysixartists are representedbya largenumberofworks. Amongthem are Jacob Lawrence,whose twenty-twogouaches actuallyforma single opus, and MarsdenHartley,whose thirteenoil paintingswereallpurchasedafterthe artist's death.Theworksofthe otherfour-Burlin, Stuart Davis,AbrahamRattnerand Max Weber-were acquired bythe Lowenthals duringthe artists' lifetimes, and allthe men became personal friends of the Lowenthals. Burlin'sassociationwiththe Lowenthalsproba- blydatestothe 1940s, whentheymadesixof theirten acquisitions of his work,beginningin 1943. Theirscrapbookof 1944-45 contains an amusingsketch byBurlinof a couple appre- ciating countryliving.Theman inthe drawing bears some resemblance to Miltonand is shownplayinggolf,a sportboththe Lowenthals regularlyenjoyed,so itmaybe thatthe sketch is meantto representthe couple. Thesheet is inscribed:"ToEdithand Mickey,/Withmemo- riesof happyDays/ Paul(Burlin)." Homunculuswas purchasedfromthe DowntownGallery,NewYork,in1947, the same yearthat Burlinhadthe firstof hisfourone-man shows there. Theliteralreadingofthe painting appearsto be a figureseated at a table, wield- inga knifeon some sortoffish orshellfish. However,the artist'stitleforthis piece suggests that he intendedto depictsomething more symbolicthanjust an ordinarydomestic scene. Thewordhomunculus(Latinfor"littleman")is variouslydefinedas a manikin,dwarf,orpygmy. Webster'sThirdNewInternationalDictionary adds that itis "amanikinthat is artificiallypro- duced ina cucurbit[avessel used indistillation] byan alchemist."Such a creature,withthe name Homunculus,is created inpart2 of Goethe's Faust. ForBurlin,whooften lookedto mythsforartisticinspiration,the artificialcre- ationof new lifemayhave been a metaphorfor the artist'screativeendeavors. 19
  21. 21. JOSE DE CREEFT American,1884-1982; bornin Spain. Iberica, 1938. Granite,h. 24 in. (61 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, NewYork.Bequest of Edith and MiltonLowenthal,1992 TheLowenthalsfirmlybelievedthat private patronsof Americanartshouldacquireex- amples of contemporarysculptureinaddition to workson canvas, whichwere morepopular withcollectorsinthe forties. Intheirownapart- ment severalsculptureswere prominentlydis- playedalongsidetheirpaintings.Thetwo stone figuresthat they owned bythe Spanish-born sculptorde Creeftwere both purchasedfrom the GeorgettePassedoit Gallery,NewYork, earlyinthe couple's collectinghistory:Iberica in 1944 and UneAme in 1944-45. Liketwo othersculptures, byJohnB. Flannagan,that they acquiredinthose same years (Jonahand the Whale, see page 24, and Dragon Motif), these pieces were handcarvedfromstone by the artist,ratherthan byartisans.Thismethod of "directcarving"was revitalizedinAmericaby de Creeftand Flannagan,who considered itto be a progressivemode fortheirtime. De Creeft didmuchto disseminatethese ideas to younger artists when he taught in NewYorkat the NewSchool forSocial Research (1932-48, 1957-60) and the ArtStudents League (1944-48). Trainedin Madridand Paris(wherehe knewRodin,Picasso, and Braque),de Creeft had alreadyestablished a considerablereputa- tion in Europepriorto movingto the United States in 1929. Hisarrivalhere was markedby solo shows inSeattle and NewYorkand, there- after,almost annualexhibitionsthroughoutthe 1940s. Hisinclusioninthe 1942-43 "Artists forVictory"show, heldat TheMetropolitan Museumof Art,may have been the Lowenthals firstexposureto his work.Thefirstprizethat he receivedthere forone of his two sculptures (Materity, now inthe Metropolitan'scollec- tion, acc. no. 42.171) certainlywouldhave attractedthe Lowenthals'attentionand proba- blypromptedtheiracquisitionof Ibericashortly thereafter.Thetitle Ibericarefersto the ancient Latinname forthe IberianPeninsulaof Spain. As in muchof his work,the naturalshape of the stone suggested to the artistthe image he wouldcarve;inthis case, an elegantlyelon- gated oval head. The primitive,masklikeface finds precedents inthe indigenousartof Spain and in Africansculpture, two sources that also inspiredhis fellow countrymanPicasso. Accordingto the Lowenthals,the blackgranite used forIbericawas found inthe waters of LongIslandSound and kept bythe artistuntil he had a strongdesire to carve it. 20
  22. 22. JOSE DE CREEFT Une Ame, 1944. Carraramarble,h. 151/2in. (39.4 cm). Collectionof Mr.and Mrs.AlfredE. Bernstein UneAmewas producedthe same yearas de Creeft'smarriageto histhirdwife, Lorrie Goulet,an Americansculptor.Themarble's exquisitelysensuous curves, undulating rhythms,smoothlypolishedsurfaces, and dreamlikeauraseem to celebratethis happy union,whichlasted untilthe artist'sdeath in 1982. Itspoetic Frenchtitle, whichmeans "a soul,"contributesa spiritualreadingforthis workthat transcends the purelyphysicalbeauty of itsform.Likealmost allof de Creeft'swork, this piece exaltsthe humanfigure,especially the female nude. Hismasterfuljuxtapositionof smooth and roughsurfaces, both in Ibericaand UneAme, heightensthe expressivequality inherentin his materials.UnlikeFlannagan, whofrequentlyworkedwithsofter,moregranu- larstones of dullercolor,de Creeftpreferred hard,smooth-texturedstones, likemarble,that could be highlypolished, andthose that were stronglycolored.Thelightnessof the Carrara marbleused here and the darknessof Iberica's blackgraniteproduceverydifferentcharacters forthe figures. Whenthis workwas includedinde Creeft's annualexhibitionat the GeorgettePassedoit Gallery,NewYork,in November-December 1944, the Lowenthalsimmediatelyreservedit fortheircollection.Theycompleted the finan- cialtransactioninearlyJanuary1945. As in otherinstances, the Lowenthalsmaintained a long-termfriendshipwithde Creeftand his family,andthe handmadeChristmascardsthat they receivedfromthe artistoverthe years were keptwiththe Lowenthals'papers,which have nowbeen microfilmedbythe Archivesof AmericanArt.In1962 MiltonLowenthalper- suaded de Creeftto donate his own papersto the Archives,wherethey currentlyreside. STUART DAVIS American,1892-1964. Landscape, 1932 and 1935. Oilon canvas, 25 x 22 in. (63.5 x 55.9 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, NewYork. Giftof Mr.and Mrs.MiltonLowenthal Between 1944 and 1952 the Lowenthals amassed an impressivecollectionof seven picturesbyDavis:sixoils on canvas and one watercoloron paper.These paintingsrangein date from1932 to 1947 and illustratevarious phases inthe artist's development of his abstractidiom.Allwere purchasedfromthe DowntownGallery,NewYork,fromEdith Halpert,whowas Davis'sdealerforthirtyyears, from1927 to 1936 andfrom1941 to 1962. Inrecognitionoftheirpatronage,the Lowenthals were given the rightof first refusalto buy Davis'sworkfromthe DowntownGalleryexhibi- tions. Halpert'senthusiasm for Davis'swork must have influencedthe Lowenthals'initial acquisitions, buttheirsubsequent friendship withthe artistand hisfamily-which began in 1944 withtheirfirstpurchaseofone of hispaint- ings (ReportfromRockport;see page 8)- continuedto fueltheirsupportof hiswork.The friendshiplasted long afterthe Lowenthals' yearsof artcollectinghadended, and in 1964 MiltonLowenthal(whowas also Davis'slawyer) spoke at the artist'sfuneral,characterizinghim as beingpartof a "breedof creativegiants." Davis'sapproachto abstractartwas care- fullypredicatedupona series of complexart theories that he began to devise inthe 1920s and continuedto evolve in his notebooks and paintingsthroughouthis life. Inhis workof the earlyto mid-1930s, such as Landscape and Coordinance(an oil paintingand a watercolor, respectively)inthe LowenthalCollection,Davis often reliedon darklines to providethe struc- tureforhis imagery(colorwas eitherexcluded completelyorextremelylimited).Such line drawings,althoughwithoutformor modeling, were intendedto denote three-dimensional objects inspace. Landscape, painted in 1932 and 1935, was based on a small pen-and-ink drawingof September 1932 that depicted a waterfrontscene inGloucester,Massachusetts (witha fish-processingplant,a tower,and a wharfat whicha schooner is docked). Davis's annotationon the drawingalso applies to the painting:"Visualizationinsimple shape terms disregardingmoredetail incidentthan is the habit-with the idea of gettinga simultaneous viewinstead of a sequential one." Inlaterver- sions of the same composition (paintedin 1939, 1954, and 1956) Davisreintroduced fullcolorwithinthe linearframework. 21
  23. 23. STUART DAVIS American,1892-1964. The Mellow Pad, 1945 and 1950-51. Oilon canvas, 26 x 42 in. (66 x 106.7 cm). The Brooklyn Museum, NewYork.Bequest of Edithand MiltonLowenthal Pad No. 4, 1947. Oilon canvas, 14 x 18 in. (35.6 x 45.7 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, NewYork.Bequest of Edithand Milton Lowenthal FormorethanfiveyearsDavisworkedonthe extremelycomplexcompositionofTheMellow Pad,exhibitingitatvariousstages ofdevelop- mentbetweenitsinceptioninJune1945 andits completionin1951. Alongthewayhealsocre- atedfivesmallerpaintings,PadNos. 1-5 (1946-49) andnumerousnotebooksketches containingtheoreticalnotations.Ofthe related paintings,PadNo.4, inthe LowenthalCollection, executedin1947, displaysthe mostsimilarityof alloverembellishmenttoTheMellowPad, althoughitdoes notfollowthelargerwork's bipartiteformat.Inbothofthese paintingsDavis attainedhisgoalofusingabstractformto pro- duce meaningfulcontent.Thesurfacesarefilled withmyriadsmallsignsandsymbols,numbers, letters,andwords,coloredshapes andpatterns, allofwhichoverlapandcollide.Thesensation of chaoticandconstantmotion,however,ismas- terfullycontrolledbythesolidbackgroundinPad No.4 andbythepainted"frame"aroundthe edges ofTheMellowPad.Davis'schoice oftitles andthe insertionofthe wordspadandmellow padwithinthe paintingsthemselves, reflecthis interestinwordassociations andpuns.Herethe possiblemeaningsforpadrangefromanartist's sketchbook,to aslangexpressionfora person's home,to ajazztermart-historianJohnLane definesas a "personalworldwitha mellifluousand genialemotionaltenorsuch as thatcreatedbya jazzmusician'sexpertandheartfeltperformance." AftercompletingTheMellowPad,Davis embarkedonthe creationoflargerpaintingswith brightercolorsandfewerelements, anendeavor thathewouldcontinuethroughoutthe 1950s. 22
  24. 24. LYONELFEININGER American,1871-1956. LunarWeb, 1951. Oilon canvas, 21/4 x 36 in. (54 x 91.5 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, NewYork.Bequest of Edithand MiltonLowenthal In1937, afterfiftyyears in Germany,the sixty- five-year-oldAmerican-bornartistFeininger returnedhome to NewYork,where he explored in his paintings,drawings,and printsarchitec- turaland landscape subjects similarto those that had interested him in Europe.Thethree pieces by Feiningerinthe LowenthalCollec- tion-two watercolorsand one oil painting- were allmade inthe UnitedStates and illustrate the qualitiesthat informedhis laterwork:ele- gant graphicdelineationand atmosphericcolor. Thetwo watercolors-one a churchfacade, the other a marinescape-were acquired in the early1940s shortlyafter Feiningertook third prizein the 1942-43 "Artistsfor Victory" exhibitionfor his large oil paintingGelmeroda (whichwas purchased by the Metropolitan, acc. no. 42.158). Adecade later,in 1952, the Lowenthalspurchaseda largecanvas, Lunar Web,from Feininger'sone-man show at the CurtValentinGallery,NewYork,held in honorof the artist'seightiethbirthday.Itwas to become one of the Lowenthals'favoritepaintings. Unlikethe more representationalimagery depicted in the earlierwatercolors,this paint- ing eliminates most ties withthe realworld, creating instead a nocturnaldreamworld meant to inspirespiritualcontemplation. A few years after completingthe work,the artist wrote, "Iam nearingthe stage where Iam even commencing to annihilateprecise forms, in the interest-as it appears to me-of unity. Thisis a precariousstage to enter into."In LunarWeb, however,he has found a suc- cessful balance between formand formless- ness. Despite the unrealityof the scene, we recognize it as some sort of desolate land- or seascape. The horizontalgroundis filled withdarkcraggymasses (mountainsor waves?) that have been given definitionbythe thin white lines that skim diagonallyacross theiredges. The upperportionis illuminated by a largeorb, identifiedbythe painting'stitle as the moon. Feininger'sfriendthe artistMark Tobey,fromwhom he may have adopted the idea of creatingcompositions withwhite lines, explainedFeininger'sworkin 1954: "Recog- nitionof the knownis in all his paintingsbut never realism. He does not abstractfor abstraction'ssake. He drawsthe essence fromthe real, reshapes and relates in color, formand line-and gives us his worldwhere- in, ifwe have the willingmindand take the time, we are rewardedby becoming more aware, and more sensitive withinourselves." 23
  25. 25. JOHN B. FLANNAGAN American,1895-1942. Jonah and the Whale: RebirthMotif, 1937. Bluestone, h. 35 in. (88.9 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, NewYork.Bequest of Edithand Milton Lowenthal In1939 Flannagan'sstated aim as a sculptor was "tocreate a plasticidiomaliveas the spoken word;sculptureas directand swiftin feeling as a drawing,sculpturewithsuch ease, freedomand simplicitythat it hardlyseems carvedbutto have enduredalways."Jonah and the Whale:RebirthMotif,producedtwo years beforethis statement, seems to epitomizeall of these qualities.Itis one of fiftystone sculptures,primarilydepictinganimals,that Flannagancreated between 1933 and 1939. Itssimple eloquence is derivedfromthe organicshape of the stone, the fluidlines incisedbythe artist,and the readilyrecog- nizableBiblestory,as wellas fromthe direct- carvingmethods Flannaganemployed.The artiststartedeach projectwitha clear planin mindand even sought out the specific stone inwhichhe perceivedthe image "justbound up...awaitingrelease." However,since he did not use preparatorydrawingsor models, he was able to incorporatespontaneous changes and accidentaloccurrences intothe makingof the finishedsculpture. Jonahand the Whalewas carvedfroma largepiece of bluestone that the artisthad kept inhis studiofortwo years. Itwas found near Woodstock,NewYork,whichthe artistvisited frequentlybetween 1924 and 1936. The incised image of Jonahcurledfetallyinsidethe bellyof the whale relatesto two majorthemes that recurin Flannagan'swork:a pantheistic beliefthat all livingthingsare integrallyrelated, whichled himto producemanyanimalfigures; and a fascinationwiththe lifecycle-birth, growth,decay, death-and the hope fora rebirth.Here,Jonah, one of the minorprophets inthe OldTestament,is alreadycaptive inside the greatwhale,hispunishmentfortryingto avoid divineordersto reformthe people of Nineveh. Jonah'seventualrelease fromthe whale and his acceptance of God'swillare often relatedto Christ'sResurrectionand explainwhy the artistappended RebirthMotifto the title. Jonah and the Whale,one of three Flannagan sculpturespurchasedbythe Lowenthals between 1943 and 1945, was prominently displayedintheirNewYorkapartment(see page 7). O. LOUIS GUGLIELMI American,1906-1956; bornin Egypt.Totem and Bridge, 1952. Oilon canvas, 325/8x 261/2in. (82.9 x 67.3 cm). Rose ArtMuseum, BrandeisUniversity,Waltham,Massachusetts. Giftof MiltonLowenthal,New York,1959 Guglielmibecame a recognizedfigurein Americanartinthe mid-1930s, when his real- istic (some called it magic-realistic)paintings were created to providesocial commentary.His workwas includedinseveral groupshows at the Museumof ModernArtinthe 1930s and 1940s, including"AmericanRealistsand Magic Realists"in 1943, when he showed fifteen paintings.The DowntownGalleryalso held three one-man shows forGuglielmi,in 1938, 1948, and 1951. Despite the acclaim he receivedduringhis lifetime,his untimelydeath in 1956, when he was just fifty,broughta swift end to the popularityof his works. Thepicturethe Lowenthalspurchased, Totemand Bridge,is a brightlycoloredabstrac- tionthat exemplifiesGuglielmi'sattempts to finda new style of paintingafterWorldWarII. (Hisearlier,Social-Realisticworkdid not con- formto the Lowenthals'artisticinterests.) After 1945 the artistbecame much moreexperi- mental, and his picturesreflecteda dramatic change fromsharp, almost illustrationalreal- ismto geometricallyabstractedscenes of urbanlife. Guglielmiexplainedhis intentionsin 1950: "Thecreativeartistdoes not tryan escape to the past. Itis his creativeresponsi- bilityto create new formnew shapes new images that are adjustedto his time." For Guglielmithis meant creatingpicturesthat expressed the "exuberanceand organicmeans of lifeitself. Freefromrestraint,fullof imagery of shapes movinginspace." InTotemand Bridgethe flat, strictlygeometric organization of the compositionalelements is offset bythe garishcolors, the small painterlypassages, and the whimsical"cutout"figures,whichseem incongruousinthe otherwisestrictprecisionism of the work.Thesubject is an urbanscene, most likelyof NewYorkCity,wherethe artist lived.Aconstructionsite withworkersand a huge diagonalcrane (the "totem")is set against a backdropof massive buildingsand the delicate frameworkof a bridge. 24
  26. 26. ROBERT GWATHMEY American,1903-1988. Vacationist, 1945. Oilon canvas, 501/16 x 30 in. (127.2 x 76.2 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, NewYork. Giftof Mr.and Mrs.MiltonLowenthal Gwathmey,whose workwas includedin the "ArtistsforVictory"exhibition,was among the veryfirstartiststhat the Lowenthalscollected when they began to buyAmericanworksin 1943. Thatyear they purchased both the oil Endof Day (1942) and the watercolorPick Untilthe RainHits (1941-43). Vacationist,a much largerand more monumentaloil paint- ing, was added to theircollection in 1946, afterthey saw it in Gwathmey'sone-man show at A.C.A.Galleryin NewYork.(The Lowenthalsalso loaned Endof Dayto that show.) AlthoughGwathmey'sworkoften has an underlyingsocial message about the injustices caused by race and class, his paintingsare not confrontationalor overtlypolitical.Rather, they present a sympatheticview of the human condition, particularlyof the ruralfarmworkers and field hands inthe South, where the artist was bornand raised. Thispainting,however, presents a lighter,more drollcommentaryon the circumstances of the average middle-class workerwho, after day in and day out at a rou- tine job, finallygets to enjoythe freedom of vacation onlytwo weeks out of the year. Inthe artist'swords,this is the person who will"go to the beach and get some sunshine, a tan, and...goes backto the office and talks about the crab he caught." Ifthe wearylookon the man's face is any indication,however,the attempt to attain a year's worthof pleasure in two weeks' time is as tiringas the job he left behind. Standing before us, net and crab in hand, the lumberingfigurefillsthe entire space with his toweringpresence. The seg- mented body,darkoutlines, decorativedesign, and vibrantcolors are characteristicof the style of paintingthat Gwathmeyhad developed bythe mid-1940s. 25
  27. 27. MARSDEN HARTLEY American,1877-1943. FlowerAbstraction, 1914. Oilon canvas, withpaintedframe, 493/8x 42 in. (125.4 x 106.7 cm). Collection of Dr.and Mrs.MeyerP Potamkin In1944 the Lowenthalsboughtthe firstof thirteenpaintingsthey wouldown by Hartley. These constitute the largestgroupof individual worksbya single artistin theircollection. That Hartleywas so prominentlyrepresented not only reflectedtheirown personaltaste but also (albeitposthumously)acknowledgedthe importantrolethat Hartleyplayed inthe devel- opment of modernart in America.No other artistof his generationwas so well able to synthesize the lessons of pre-WorldWarI EuropeanModernismand then applythem to an Americanpreferencefordirectsubject matterand style. By 1952, when the Lowenthalsobtainedtheir last Hartley,they had amassed an impressiveand variedarray of the artist'soutput, rangingin date from 1914 to 1943. Allbuttwo of their acquisi- tions were purchasedfrom PaulRosenberg, who showed Hartley'sworkin his New York galleryfrom1942 to 1960. Thetwo excep- tions-Flower Abstractionand Handsome Drinks(1916)-were bought bythe Lowenthalsat auction in Marchof 1946 from the collection of NewYorkdealer CharlesL. Daniel,an earlycollectorof Hartley'soeuvre. FlowerAbstractionis a primeexample of the workthat Hartleyproducedduringhis sec- ond stay in Berlin(March1914-December 1915). Evidenthere are variousaspects of EuropeanModernismthat Hartleyassimilated duringhis tripsabroad,forexample the com- positionalstructureof SyntheticCubism,the brightcolors of GermanExpressionism,and the radiatingdisks of FrenchOrphism.Robert Delaunay'shuge OrphicpaintingHomage to Bleriot(1914; Kunstmuseum,Basel), which Hartleysaw in Pariswhen he was en routeto Berlin,may have been the catalystforFlower Abstraction.Hartley'soverlappingdisks, arcs, and bands, however,unlikeDelaunay's,are presented in extreme close-up and seem to be croppedfroma much largercomposition. Theirexplosiveenergy is hardlycontained withinthe edges of the canvas and, indeed, continues onto the pictureframe, whichwas painted bythe artist.Althoughthe "sunflower" disk inthe upperleft cornerof the composi- tion and the yellows, pinks,and greens used throughoutmay have suggested the title (whichis indicatedin the Lowenthals'hand- writteninventory),FlowerAbstraction'sclose connection to another 1914 work,titled Pre- WarPageant (ColumbusMuseumof Art, Ohio),relates it more convincinglyto Hartley's famous earlyseries of abstract military emblems. 26
  28. 28. MARSDEN HARTLEY Handsome Drinks,1916. Oilon composition board,24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, NewYork.Giftof Mr. and Mrs.MiltonLowenthal When Hartleyreturnedto NewYorkfrom Berlin in December 1915, he foundthat stronganti- Germansentiment inAmericacautioned against his paintingor showingany more Germanmilitarypaintings.Deniedthis power- ful stimulus, which had been the focus of his workforthe precedingtwo years, Hartley attempted to ingratiatehimself intothe Americanartscene by producinga series of more neutralstill lifes. Amongthese, Handsome Drinkswas immediatelyincluded in "TheForumExhibitionof ModernAmerican Painters,"held at the AndersonGalleries,New York,in March1916. AlthoughHartleyinsisted that paintingslikethis contained "nohidden symbolismwhatsoever"and that "theforms are onlythose which I have observed casually fromday to day,"criticsof the time, and we today,suspect some covert meaning. Handsome Drinkspresents a careful- and probablysymbolic-placement of four drinkingvessels on a roundedtable. Presiding overthe scene, inthe center rear,is a large chalice, fromwhichthe top halfof a mandorla arises. Theshape also appears in other Hartleyworksof the periodand may be a ref- erence to the mandorlasin whichChristis often painted. Inthe foregroundbelowthe chalice are three smallervessels. At lowerleft is a stem goblet containingabsinthe, identifi- able by its green colorand bythe sugar cube on a spoon. Absinthewas a popularliqueurin the late nineteenth and earlytwentiethcen- turies, even though it was thoughtto cause hallucinations,mental deterioration,and steril- ity.Inthe center frontis a Manhattancocktail witha cherryinside, and at rightare a cup and saucer. Thecup-and-saucer motiffigured prominentlyin another Hartleypaintingof the period,One Portraitof One Woman(University of Minnesota, Minneapolis),thoughtto be an abstract portraitof the writerGertrudeStein. IfHandsome Drinksalso was meant to be an abstractportrait,the identityof the subject or subjects has remaineda mysteryfor eighty years. Eventhe letters writtenon either side of the chalice, whichdo not seem to formany recognizablename or word,do not providethe necessary clue. 27
  29. 29. MARSDEN HARTLEY American,1877-1943. The Last Lookof John Donne, 1940. Oilon academy board, 281/8x 22 in. (71.4 x 55.8 cm). The Brooklyn Museum, NewYork.Giftof Mr.and Mrs. MiltonLowenthal Twoyears after Hartleypainted his "archaic" portraitof AlbertPinkhamRyder(see page 10) he producedthis homage to the great seventeenth-century Englishmetaphysical poet John Donne (1572-1631), whose work Hartleygreatlyadmired. Interms of style, color, medium, size, and composition, the two workswere conceivedof as companion pieces, each payingtributeto a great creative mind.ForHartley,Donne's intellectualanalyses of complex human emotions, conveyed throughmacabreimagery,irony,and paradox and expressed invernacularlanguage,provided a shiningexample for his own paintings. Hartley'spainted portraitis based on an engravedlikenessthat was used as the frontis- piece fora posthumouslypublishedvolume of Donne's last sermon, "Death'sduell,"deliv- ered when Donne was dean of Saint Paul's Cathedral,London.Thesame image was also used to carvethe marbleeffigyof the poet that still lies in the cathedral. Bothengraving and sculpturewere based on a portraitdraw- ing, in which he is covered witha shroud,that Donne commissioned duringthe last days of his final illness. Here, in Hartley'spainting,the corporealityof the poet's waningexistence is entirelyhidden beneath the heavy pleated fab- ricthat entombs himwithinits stonelike col- umn. Onlyhis gaunt face, completely impas- sive, is visible;his eyes are closed, his mouth is slightlyopen. Inpositioningthis paintingas the companion piece to AlbertPinkhamRyder, Hartleyoffers interestingcomparisons between the two men, each at the end of his life. Both figuresfillthe space of the compositionwith theirenormous presence, but where Ryder's body is robustand massive, Donne's has all but disappeared inside its covering.Both seem to be no longerconnected to this world. Ryder'sdarkeyes are wide open, butthey stare out at the viewer,blankand unfocused; Donne's lids, on the other hand, are shut with fatigue but seem to suggest a repose of deep introspectionas the poet reckonswith his imminentdeath. MARSDEN HARTLEY EveningStorm, Schoodic, Maine, No. 2, 1942. Oilon fabricatedboard,30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, NewYork.Bequest of Edithand Milton Lowenthal InEveningStorm,Schoodic, Maine, No. 2 Hartleyuses a compositionalarrangementand shapes verysimilarto those inMt.Katahdin (see page 11) butfora marinescape. Asthe conicalfocus of the painting,Hartleysubsti- tutes forthe mountaina highjagged wallof wateras it rises and peaks above rocks.Cloud formationsmuch likethose inMt.Katahdin also animate the sky,and a stripof blocklike rocksreplaces the lake inthe foreground. Althoughthe scene suggests the ebb and flow of tumultuousmovement (as does the title), Hartleyrendersthe wave as a largesolid mass. One historianwrotethat Hartley"hasimmobi- lizedthe form,makingthe crashingwave as substantialand monumentalas a mountain. Thewaterhas the brutalforce of Homer'slate paintings,but notthe effervescence. Hartleyis insearch of permanence, not movement. For himeven liquidsmust acquirepermanence." Thispaintingis one of at least three ver- sions (of comparablesize and medium)that Hartleymade of this subject between 1941 and 1942 (the othertwo are inthe Worcester ArtMuseum, Mass., and the Museumof 28
  30. 30. ModernArt,N.Y). Forallthree the scene depictedseems originallyto have derivedfrom the lowerthirdof Hartley'sslightlyearlier seascape TheLighthouse(1940-41; William A. M.Burden,N.Y).Whilethe locale forThe Lighthouseis PortlandHarbor,Maine,the set- tingforthe otherthree paintings(as indicated bytheirtitles) is Schoodic Point,inAcadia NationalPark,nearthe remotefishingvillageof Corea,where Hartleylivedfrom1940 to 1941. In1942, the yearthat this paintingwas done, Hartleyhad movedto an inlandsection of northeasternMaine,awayfromthe coast. This fact supportsthe knowledgethat he often paintedpicturesfrommemory. Interestin his Maineseascapes (whichhe had begunto do onlyin 1936) evokedsome criticalacclaim. Hartley'sworkdidnot sell well duringhis lifetime,leavinghimin perpetual financialcrisis.TheMaineseascapes, however, werefairlywell receivedinthe marketplace (some sellingto museums duringthe last years of his life).TheMuseumof ModernArtpur- chased theirversionof EveningStorm, Schoodic, Mainein 1943 and includedit in their1943-44 exhibition"RomanticPaintingin America."Thatexhibitionwas surelyseen by the Lowenthals,who had lentto ittwo paint- ings (JohnPellew,East RiverNocture No. 2, and MaxWeber,HasidicDance; see page 15). In1945 they purchasedthis painting,their thirdbyHartley. JOSEPH HIRSCH American,1910-1981. The Prisoner, 1942. Oilon canvas, 44 x 301/4in. (111.8 x 76.8 cm). WhitneyMuseumof AmericanArt, NewYork.Giftof Edithand MiltonLowenthal Evenbeforehis workwas seen bythe Lowenthalsin "ArtistsforVictory,"Hirschhad exhibitedwidelyand had receivedseveral pres- tigiousawardsand fellowships.ThePrisoner, whichwas one of the Lowenthalsveryfirstpur- chases (inFebruary1943), had previouslywon honorablementioninthe "Fifty-thirdAnnual Exhibitionof AmericanPaintingsand Sculpture" at the ArtInstituteof Chicagoin 1942 and had been reproducedon the coverofArtDigest in Novemberof that year. Thesubject of the paintingwas particularly timelyfor1942. AyoungGermansoldier,still dressed infulluniform,speaks to an unidenti- fied interrogator,whose presence is indicated onlybythe hands, inthe lowerleftcornerof the painting,holdinga clipboardand writing. Thesoldier'sdemeanor is surprisinglycasual and nonthreatenedas he wearilyimpartsmili- taryinformationto his captorwhiledrinkinga cup of coffee. Hirschpresents the humanface of the war,enablingoursympathiesto lie as muchwiththe predicamentof the young Germanprisoneras withthe noble cause of the Alliedforces. Ina statement made in 1942 inthe catalogue forthe Museumof Modern Art'sexhibition"Americans1942: Eighteen ArtistsfromNineStates," Hirschexplainedthat the functionof his artwas to instillinothersthe artist'sworldview...InmypaintingIwant to castigate the thingsIhate and paintmonu- ments to whatIfeel is noble....Ours is an era of accelerated transition,this is the sea- son forweapons....The real men of arthave invariablybeen keenlyaware of the world aroundthem. So itstrikesme that a re- affirmation...in the common ordinaryman willbe as naturalas was, forexample, the emphasis by ElGreco,in his day,on his faith in the Church.Thecause of democracyis the cause of creativeart, and the contempo- raryartistwho cherishes his artfreedomwill accordinglyfightforthe democracyin which it flourishes. ThePrisoneris one of several warimages that Hirschproducedabout 1940-42, prior to his becomingan officialartist-correspondent between 1943 and 1944. Thispainting remained withthe Lowenthalsuntil 1953, when itwas one oftwoworksgivento the WhitneyMuseumof AmericanArtfollowing its 1952-53 exhibitionof the Lowenthal Collection. 29
  31. 31. No. 9 No. 11No. 6 JACOB LAWRENCE American,born1917. John BrownSeries, 1941. Gouache on paper.The DetroitInstitute of Arts.Giftof Mr.and Mrs.MiltonLowenthal No. 6: John Brownformed an organization among the colored people of the Adirondack woods to resist the capture of any fugitive slave, 20 x 14 in. (50.8 x 35.6 cm) No. 9: Kansas was nowthe skirmishground of the CivilWar,14 x 20 in. (35.6 x 50.8 cm) No. 11: John Browntook to guerrilla warfare, 14 x 20 in. (35.6 x 50.8 cm) FromDecember4 to 29, 1945, Lawrence's twenty-two-partJohn Brownseries was exhib- ited at the DowntownGalleryin histhirdone- man show there infouryears. Thesequence recountsthe thoughtsand actions of the white abolitionistJohn Brown,whose finalraidon a federalarsenalat HarpersFerry,Virginia(in December 1859), led to his captureand exe- cutionand heightenedtensions priorto the CivilWar.Areviewof the show called these pic- tures "powerfuland compelling"and reported that the Lowenthalshad purchasedthe entire groupof workson openingday.Overthe next two years (1946-48) the paintingscirculated aroundthe countryinan exhibitionorganized bythe Boston Instituteof ModernArtand the AmericanFederationof Arts.Bythe time the Lowenthalsacquiredthe series, the twenty- eight-year-oldLawrencehad alreadyachieved considerablerecognition,not onlythroughhis galleryshows butalso because of the purchase of his sixty-panelMigrationof the Negroseries (bythe Museumof ModernArt,N.Y,and the PhillipsCollection,Washington,D.C.,in 1942) and his winningof a $500 purchaseprizeat "ArtistsforVictory"(whereTheMetropolitan Museumof Artacquiredhis gouache on paper Pool Parlor,acc. no. 42.167). Althoughthe John Brownpictureswere firstexhibitedin 1945, they had actuallybeen paintedfouryears earlier,whilethe artistand his bridewere in NewOrleanson an extended tripthroughthe South. Preparationsforthe series had been started beforetheirtrip, includingintensiveresearch inthe NewYork PublicLibrary.There,Lawrencehad read FranklinB. Sanborn's1885 bookTheLifeand LettersofJohn Brown,Liberatorof Kansas and Martyrof Virginia,which likened Brownto Christ.InLawrence'srenderingof Brown's abolitionistcrusade and eventual martyrdom, he, too, drawsthis analogy,makingthe point visuallyby includingthe crucifixin several pic- tures and bybeginningthe sequence withan image of Christon the cross and ending itwith Brown'sbodyhangingina similarcomposition. As he had done in his fourpreviousmultipart works-Toussaint-L'ouverture(1937), Frederick Douglass (1938), HarrietTubman(1939), and Migrationof the Negro(1940)-Lawrence wrotea captionforeach panel to describethe depicted narrative.Thetexts tend to be simple 30
  32. 32. No. 12 No. 20 No. 12: John Brown'svictory at Black Jack drove those pro-slaveryto new fury,and those who were anti-slavery to new efforts, 20 x 14 in. (50.8 x 35.6 cm) No. 15 No. 21 andfactual, buttheirmeaningis enhanced when readintandem withthe images, which do not alwayscorrelateexactlyto the words. Inthe John Brownseries the compositions are graphicallydramatic,filledwithstrongdiag- onal movementand recedingspaces. Most scenes containfiguresengaged in meetings orcombat, butsome are morecontemplative orpoignantlyempty.Thecomplexitiesof Lawrence'sdesigns and narrativesare offset by the flat, simplifiedformsandthe use of strong color,dramaticlight,and darkcontrasts. The gouache mediumthat the artistfavored enabled himto workquicklywithgreatfresh- ness of effect. However,his experimentsat producinga homemade gouache (made from groundpigments, rabbit-skinglue, and water, drippedthroughcheesecloth) have not proved durable.Overtime, severe flakingof the surfaces has forcedthe DetroitInstituteof Arts (whichnowowns the series; see note) to deny any loan requests forthese works.Instead,the museum is onlyable to lenda set of silk- screened printsmade in 1974-77 afterthe originalgouache paintings(withthe artist's cooperation).Comparingthe gouaches, illus- tratedhere, to the silkscreens, visitorsto the LowenthalCollectionexhibitionat the Metro- politanMuseumwillsee that the silk-screened printswere not intendedto be precisetran- No. 15: John Brownmade many trips to Canada organizingfor his assault on Harpers Ferry,20 x 14 in. (50.8 x 35.6 cm) No. 20: John Brownheld Harpers Ferryfor twelve hours: his defeat was a few hours off, 14 x 20 in. (35.6 x 50.8 cm) No. 21: AfterJohn Brown's capture, he was put on trial for his life in Charles Town, Virginia,20 x 14 in. (50.8 x 35.6 cm) scriptionsof the originals.Whilethey do repli- cate the compositions and the vibrantmatte effect of the paint,they do not followthe exact colorsof the originalsnordo they revealthe texturalbrushworkand tonal variationsthat enlivenedthe surface of the Lowenthalpieces. 31
  33. 33. JACK LEVINE American,born1915. CityLights, 1940. Oil on canvas, 54 x 36 in. (137.2 x 91.4 cm). MemphisBrooksMuseumof Art,Memphis, Tennessee. Giftof Edithand MiltonLowenthal CityLights,byLevine(whowas a second-prize winnerinthe "ArtistsforVictory"exhibition),was the thirdworkacquiredbythe Lowenthalsfrom the DowntownGallery,in1943. Althoughit remainedtheironlyexampleof Levine'spaint- ing,itwas an intriguingpictureandwas keptin theircollectionforthirty-fiveyears, until1978, when itwas givento the MemphisBrooks MuseumofArt,Memphis,Tennessee. Levine's workofthe 1930s and 1940s maybe classified as Social Realism,as arethe paintingsof Ben ShahnandJacob Lawrence(bothalso repre- sented bythe DowntownGallery),Robert Gwathmey,andJoseph Hirsch,allofwhomhad worksinthe LowenthalCollection.Together these pictures,whichoffersocial commentary, forma special subset withinthe collection. Not surprisingly,consideringtheiranomalous rela- tionshipto the restofthe holdings,these pieces wereallacquiredduringthe formativeyears ofthe collection(1943-46), beforethe Lowenthals'taste inarthadfullydeveloped. Bornand raisedinBoston, Levinespent the firstfortyyearsof his lifethere beforerelocating to NewYorkCityin1945. Hisdepictionsofpeople and places reflectedthe details (i.e., street signs and buildings)ofthe locale inwhichhe livedat the time. Levinefrequentlyproduced severalversionsof a particulartheme overthe course of a yearortwo. Inthe case of City Lights,the meetingofthree men (facingleft, center,and right)anda skeleton on a brick street inBostonis closely based on a much smalleroilpaintedthe previousyear(City LightsNo. 1, 1939; MidtownGalleries,N.Y), itselfa variationon his large1938 canvas The Street (Museumof ModernArt,N.Y),and allof the relatedpaintings.AlthoughLevineoften used such worksto makesatiricalstatements aboutcorruptioningovernment,odd political bedfellows,orpersonalityconceits ofvarious membersof society, his motivationherewas muchmorepersonal.Thedeath of hisfatherin 1939 led himto paintthis homagewhilefeeling "acertainkindof preoccupationwithblackness anddeath andsorrow."Justas hisfatherhad been a simpleworkingman,the men inthis pic- turesymbolizeEveryman."Behindand above them [is]some sortof ghostlyfigure,which couldeven be myfatherlaidout inhiscoffin... a skeleton, butthere's something likea white skullcap and a prayershawlwrappedaroundit and underthejaws."Thelanternat lowerleft, whichoften appears inLevine'swork,mayrep- resentthe one beacon of hope inthis otherwise macabreand melancholyscene. JACQUES LIPCHITZ American,1891-1973. Portraitof Marsden Hartley, 1942. Bronze,edition1/7, h. 141/2in. (36.8 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, New York. Giftof the Edithand MiltonLowenthal FoundationInc., in memoryof CarlSelden Althoughthe realisticsculpturebyLipchitzdoes not seem to fitstylisticallyorthematicallywith the rest of the Lowenthals'holdings,itwas probablyacquiredbecause its subject, the painterMarsdenHartley,figuredso prominently intheircollection. Inthe same year (1952) that the Lowenthalspurchasedtheirlast Hartleypaintingthey also acquiredthis monumentalhead. Themakingof the portraitcame about in 1941-42, afterthe two artistsmet unexpect- edly at an exhibitionopening. Lipchitz,a pri- marilyExpressionistsculptor,hadjust emigrated to NewYorkfromFranceand was on the alert fora good portraitsubject, whichhe hoped would generate future commissions and income. He recalledseeing a man at the open- ing partywho seemed "tohave a typicalAmer- icanface" and asked whetherhe would consent to pose forhimbefore he even knew whothe man was. Lipchitzwas drawnto Hartley's"marvelous"head withits highfore- head, largesunken eyes, and beaklikenose, whichthe sculptordescribedas being "strong and...very,verysweet and almost feminine in his face." OnHartley'spart,he had admired Lipchitz'sworksince 1935, when he firstsaw it inan exhibitionat the BrummerGalleryin New York.Inhis writtenaccount "PosingforLipchitz" (ca. 1942-43, publishedposthumously), Hartleycalled him"theonlymodernsculptor that has ever moved me."Althoughthe two were neverclose, they respected one another and admiredeach other'swork.(Hartleyowned a drawingbyLipchitz.) Aftertwenty-eightsittings Lipchitzmade two portraitheads: a largeone of Hartleylook- ingstraightahead and a smallerone of him asleep withhis head restingon his hand. Both poses were producedin uniqueterracottas and incast-bronzeeditions. The Lowenthals owned one of the seven bronzecasts made of the moreformalhead; the Metropolitan acquiredthe relatedterracottain 1942 (acc. no. 42.142). 32
  34. 34. STANTON MACDONALD-WRIGHT American,1890-1973. Synchromy No. 3, 1917. Oilon canvas, 39 x 38 in. (99 x 96.5 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, NewYork. Bequest of Edithand MiltonLowenthal Oneof the gems of the LowenthalCollection is this colorfulSynchromistpaintingby Macdonald-Wright,whichis the onlywork bythis innovativeearly-twentieth-century Modernistto be representedinthe Lowenthals' holdings.Itwas acquiredfromWeyheGalleryin NewYorkon January13, 1953 (the onlywork they acquiredthat year),just after101 pieces fromthe LowenthalCollectionwent on view ina touringexhibitionthat was seen at the WhitneyMuseumof AmericanArt,NewYork (October1-November 2, 1952), and the WalkerArtCenter,Minneapolis(November28, 1952-January 17, 1953). Theexhibition allowedthe Lowenthalsto reviewtheirentire collectionforthe firsttime. Theirsubsequent purchaseof this paintingand one byGeorgia O'Keeffe(in1958; see page 35)-works by two importantartistsnot previouslyincluded intheircollection-may have been an attempt to present intheirholdingsa moredefinitive surveyof AmericanModernism. Asa picturefrom1917, SynchromyNo. 3 falls outside the mainscope of the Lowenthal Collection.Itsacquisition,however,added strengthto theirfew select examples of World WarIModernismbyMarsdenHartley,John Marin,and MaxWeber.Togetherthese paint- ings indicatethe stronginfluencethat Cubism had on the developmentof early-twentieth- centuryAmericanart. ForMacdonald-Wright and hisfellowartistMorganRussell, bothof whomwere workingin Franceabout 1912, Cubism,particularlythe Orphismof Robert Delaunay,providedthe structuralfoundation fortheirtheories of painting,based on color relationships,whichthey called Synchromism. Macdonald-Wrightfollowedthe Synchromist principlesfromabout 1912 to 1919. As evi- denced by-SynchromyNo. 3, his best workwas a livelymixof intersectingtranslucentplanes and a spectrumof brightcolors. Humanfigures and everydayobjects were his primarysub- jects. Here,a roominteriorbecomes a shifting kaleidoscope inwhichformsadvance and recede, some solidifying,others beingfractured bylightintothinveils of color.Althoughthe scene is not easily read,we can make out a wooden chairwithverticalslats at the farright, a table set witha plate of fruitat center left, and perhapsthe green leaves of a plantfarther left.Asthe artistwroteabout his Synchromist worksinthe forewordof the catalogue forhis 1917 exhibitionat Stieglitz's"291" gallery: "Myambitionis to create an artwhichstands halfway between music and architecture." 33
  35. 35. JOHN MARIN American,1870-1953. Street Movement, New YorkCity, 1932. Watercoloron paper, 255/8x 205/8in. (65 x 52.3 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, NewYork.Bequest of Edithand MiltonLowenthal Throughoutthe twentiethcenturyNewYorkCity has been a favoredsubjectforboth realistand abstractartistsof manydifferentschools. For artists,such as Marin,whose rootswere found inCubism,the citywas a three-dimensional realizationof that movement'stheories of simultaneityand faceted construction. Aftertrainingin Europefrom1905 to 1910, Marinreturnedto NewYorkinearly 1911 and created a numberof Cubo-Futuristic worksthat glorifiedsites such as the Brooklyn Bridge,the sixty-storyWoolworthBuilding,and the steeple of Saint Paul'sChapel(at Broadway and FultonStreet). Inthe forewordto the cata- logueforhis 1913 exhibitionof NewYork watercolors,Marinexpressed hisfeelings about the city,whichcontinuedto informhis later workas well:"Isee greatforces at work;great movements;the warringof the greatand the small....Whilethese powersare at workpush- ing, pulling,sideways, downwards,upwards,I can hearthe sound of theirstrifeand there is greatmusic being played.Andso Itryto express graphicallywhata greatcityis doing." InStreet Movement,New YorkCityMarincre- ates a dense abstractreliefof overlappingrec- tangles and diagonallinesthat suggests a busy intersectionin midtownManhattan.Buildings, billboards,lights,streets, and people are blurredtogether bythe pulsatingrhythmthat drivesthe cityforward. JOHN MARIN Movement, Nassau Street, No. 2, 1936. Watercolor on paper, 261/8 x 20 /8 in. (66.3 x 51 cm). The BrooklynMuseum, NewYork. Bequest of Edithand MiltonLowenthal By 1920 Marin'sviews of NewYorkCityno longerfocused on single buildingsbut on the entire environmentof buildingsand people involvedin what he called a mad dance in which "everythingbecame alive...Buildings- streets-people-become a solid mass of movingaliveness...with a kindof orderto it all."The underlyingsense of orderthat he perceivedwithinthe dynamicmovement is particularlyapparentin this late schematic watercolor.Here, Marinhas visuallydemarcat- ed differentelements of the scene withdark borders,for example, a woman in the lower rightcorner,the collected mass of pedestrians, and a rowof buildings. Together, however, these individualpieces fit intoone another likean odd-shaped jigsaw puzzle.Movement, Nassau Street, No. 2 is one of at least seven variations on this same composition that Marinmade in 1936. Whileothers inthe series evoke a greatersense of outwardmotion,this one is extremely stylized, controllingall of the street's energy as if it were pullinginward on itself. Althoughoverthe years Marindid create oil paintingson canvas, the largest partof his oeuvre consisted of-and his artisticreputa- tion restedsolelyon-the masterfulwatercolors that he producedfor almost fiftyyears. Ever since his earlyexhibitionsat Stieglitz'sgallery, beginningin 1909, Marin'sworkhad sold well. Bythe time the Lowenthalspurchased theirfirstMarinwatercolor,Pine Tree(1917), in 1945 and his two laterwatercolorsof New Yorkin 1952, the prices commanded for his workson paperwere considerablyhigherthan for manyartists on canvas. The acquisition of Street Movementand Movement, Nassau Street just priorto the entire collection being shown at the WhitneyMuseum in October 1952 may reflectthe Lowenthals'desire at this time to exhibita fullerrepresentationof the early masters of twentieth-century Americanart. 34
  36. 36. GEORGIA O'KEEFFE American,1887-1986. Ram's Head, White Hollyhock-Hills, 1935. Oilon canvas, 30 x 36 in. (76.2 x 91.5 cm). The Brooklyn Museum, NewYork.Bequest of Edithand MiltonLowenthal In1929 O'Keeffemade the firstof many extendedvisitsto NewMexico(whereshe eventuallymoved in 1949), and almost imme- diatelyherpaintingswere filledwithimages that evokedthat partof the country.Ofparticu- larinterestto herwerethe majestic landfor- mationsand animalbones that she collected in the desert. Whatto some mightseem an eerie specter of skeletal remainstook on a deep sig- nificanceforthe artist,whowrotethat "they are as beautifulas anythingIknow....The bones seem to cut sharplyto the center of somethingthat is keenlyaliveon the desert." These powerfulmotifswere readilyadapted to O'Keeffe'salreadydevelopedstyle, which combinedan almost photographicrealismwith a strongsense of abstractdesign.Theintensity of lightand colorthat distinguishesherNew Mexicopaintingsfromherpreviouswork reflectednotonlythe naturalconditionsof the Southwesternsetting butalso the artist's renewedenthusiasmforpaintingafterseveral difficultyears. She beganto experimentfreely withjuxtaposingdisassociated images in the same picture.InRam'sHead, WhiteHolly- hock-Hills, forinstance-the Lowenthals'only exampleof O'Keeffe'swork-the artistinter- jects into a panoramic landscape two close-up studies, of an animalskulland a flower.The incongruityof scale and perspectivebetween these elements is dramaticand startling.The gentlyrollingsand hillsof the RioGrandeValley (westofTaos),whichforman undulatingmass at the bottomof the canvas, are depictedwith- out muchspecificity,as ifseen froma greatdis- tance andfroma highvantage point.Theskull andflowermotifs,on the otherhand,are shown inscrupulousdetailat close range.Thestrictly frontalviewof the ram'shead emphasizes its exoticcontour,whilethe slightlyupwardtiltof the hollyhockrevealsitsshallowdepth.Although the individualimages are realisticallydescribed, there is noverisimilitudeto the scene. O'Keeffe'spaintingjoined the Lowenthal Collectionin 1958 as a relativelylate addition and was exhibitedthe followingyearat the WhitneyMuseumof AmericanArtina group show, "TheMuseumand ItsFriends:Second LoanExhibition." 35

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