Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Figure Examined: Masterworks from the Kasser Mochary Art Foundation: Picasso, Matisse, Rodin, Dalí, Botero

On Sunday, May 31st Philbrook opened a new exhibition that brings together work from some of the most prominent European artists of the late nineteenth through mid-twentieth centuries including Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), and Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) among others. The Figure Examined: Masterworks from the Kasser Mochary Art Foundation includes over 100 artists’ depictions of the human form spanning 150 years of art history. Curated by Angela Novacek, Deputy Director, Kasser Mochary Art Foundation; Julie Sasse, PhD, Chief Curator and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Tucson Museum of Art; and Joanne Stuhr, Curator, Kasser Mochary Art Foundation, this exhibition remains on view at Philbrook Museum of Art through September 13, 2015 under the leadership of coordinating curator, Sarah Lees, PhD, Ruth G. Hardman Curator of European Art with Philbrook.
This original exhibition focuses on the human figure, one of the most universal subjects in art. Some of the earliest people carved simple human shapes out of stone, which inaugurated a tradition in many cultures that placed representations of men and women at the center of artistic production for hundreds of years. In the early twentieth century, when avant-garde practices such as Cubsim and Surrealism challenged or overturned longstanding Western traditions of content and composition, the human body nonetheless persisted in art, if in a fragmented or distorted form.  

The Figure Examined traces social ideals, artistic movements, and experimentation with media through the dynamic mid-twentieth century, a period that was at times were nothing short of revolutionary, through the work of artists like Joan Miró (1893-1983) and Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), among others.
Artists have chosen the human body as a subject because of the wide range of ideas it can communicate in an immediately recognizable way. These concepts include the expression of individual personality, or a generalized type or symbol; the presentation of a figure in a narrative; a performer of work or leisure; or an embodiment of intimacy or solitude. The artists can also include explorations of the way a body moves, takes up space, or simply exists unadorned – beautifully, powerfully, and vulnerably naked. With works organized not by artist name or chronology but by the ways in which artists have depicted human form, The Figure Examined explores each of these themes through six sections: Motion, Balance, Stillness; Advancing the Story; At Work, At Leisure; Intimacy and Solitude; Unveiled; and Portraits and Types.
“By presenting such a universal subject,” remarks Dr. Lees, “the exhibition allows viewers to make connections between works of art that are often separated by historical or geographical boundaries. Parallels as well as striking differences in form and meaning emerge clearly from these unexpected juxtapositions.”
The inspiration for bringing these works together sprang from the passion and vision of Elisabeth and Alexander Kasser. Elisabeth and Alexander Kasser settled in Montclair, New Jersey after World War II when they left their native Hungary. Their love of art grew out of early experiences and they began actively forming the collection in the 1960s. Through engagement with art and friendships with many of the artists whose work they ultimately collected, the Kassers assembled a group of primarily European paintings, sculptures, and works on paper dating from the late nineteenth through mid-twentieth centuries. The New Jersey-based Kasser Mochary Art Foundation, founded in 1968 by Elisabeth and Alexander Kasser along with their children Mary Kasser Mochary and Michael Kasser, supports and promotes appreciation for the fine arts through original exhibitions and long-term loans to institutions, including Philbrook.
Encompassing a variety of media including painting, sculpture, and works on paper, The Figure Examined showcases how artists can interpret the human form in both diverging and complementary ways. Visitors will see Auguste Rodin’s powerful studies of the expressive potential of the human form in both  

L’Éternelle idole, the work against which the Kassers measured all their acquisitions, as well as Adam, a work that has met Philbrook guests at its main entrance since first loaned by the Kassers in 1990. 

 In Fernando Botero’s (b. 1932) Hombre a caballo, visitors will discover a heroically proportioned yet whimsical horseman balanced in motion. Picasso’s etching of figures points to both classical models and personal themes, while the work of Paul Signac showcases his utopian vision of men and women in harmony at work and play.

Signac, Paul (French, 1863 – 1935) Au Temps d’harmonie; l’âge d’or n’est pas dans le passé, il est dans l’avenir (reprise)> / In the Time of Harmony; the Golden Age is Not Passed, it is Still to Come (reprise), 1896. Oil on canvas 25.75 x 31.875”
Mary Cassatt, Portrait of Katherine Kelso Cassatt, c. 1905, oil on canvas. Collection of the Kasser Mochary Art Foundation

Sisley, Alfred (British, 1839 – 1899; resided France) Paysage aux environs de Moret / Landscape near Moret, 1880 Oil on canvas 25.675 x 21.25”

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, La Femme à la draperie / Draped Woman, c. 1908, oil on canvas. Collection of the Kasser Mochary Art Foundation

 Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri de (French, 1864 – 1901) La Loge au mascaron doré / Loge with a Gilded Mascaron, 1893 Lithograph on paper. Edition of 100. Frame: 21.75 x 17” Sight Size: 15.25 x 10.75”

 Celestin Pallya, Marktszene IV / Market Scene IV, late 19th-earth 20th Century, oil on board. Collection of the Kasser Mochary Art Foundation
Auguste Rodin, Adam, 1881; cast 1970. Bronze. 8/12 77.5 x 29.875 x 30.25”


Artists in this exhibition include:

Mary Cassatt,  Lynn Chadwick, Marc Chagall,  Jean Cocteau, Jóseph Csáky,  Salvador Dali, Honore Daumier,  Giorgio de Chirico, Edgar Degas, Eugene Delacroix, Raoul Dufy, Paul Gauguin, Alberto Giacometti, Francisco Goya, Oskar Kokoschka, Jacques Lipchitz, Edouard Manet, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Amedeo Modigliani, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Diego Rivera, Auguste Rodin, Egon Schiele, Paul Signac, Alfred Sisley, Henri de Toulouse-Laurtrec, Andy Warhol, Max Weber, and more
About Philbrook:
Rooted in the beauty and architecture of an historic home gifted by the Phillips family 75 years ago, Philbrook Museum of Art has grown to become one of the preeminent art museums across the central United States located in Tulsa, Okla. Highlights of the Museum’s permanent collection include Renaissance and Baroque paintings from the Kress Foundation, American portraiture and landscape, one of the greatest surveys of Native American art anywhere, and growing modern and contemporary collections. The Philbrook main campus spans 23 acres of grounds and formal gardens, and features an historic home displaying the museum’s permanent collection, as well as an architectural addition with auditorium, restaurant, library, and education studios. Philbrook Downtown, a satellite location in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District, showcases Philbrook’s modern and contemporary art collections, as well as the Eugene B. Adkins Collection and Study Center of Native American art.

Interesting discussion of this exhibition