PHILADELPHIA, PA.- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
(PAFA) recently acquired the following three works: Mark Bradford's Untitled (Dementia), 2009; Philip Evergood's "Mine Disaster", 1933/37; and Lilly Martin Spencer's "Mother and Child" by the Hearth, 1867.
Mark Bradford is internationally recognized as a leading artist of his generation. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the MacArthur Fellowship Genius Grant, Bucksbaum Award, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award. Major exhibitions include the Whitney Biennial, 27th São Paolo Biennial, Carnegie International, and a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2007. Bradford's work incorporates strong environmental, social, and political themes as well as Minimalist, Abstract Expressionist, and Conceptual elements.
Bradford's "Untitled" (Dementia) is a twelve panel work using posters advertising services to Alzheimers sufferers and is currently on view at PAFA in the exhibition "Philagrafika 2010: The Graphic Unconscious". Suggesting the "matter-of-factness" associated with Minimal art, Bradford's work is not just a nod to a Minimalist grid, but also to the urban network of city streets from which Bradford's material emanates, its rough and tattered look reflecting the decayed and ruined environment from which it has been rescued. While invoking the history of collage and its incorporation of the everyday and the readymade into the work of art, Untitled (Dementia) is also a melancholic reminder of the economy it reflects, the trace of a world that formulates itself below the radar and a metaphor of forgotten histories. Bradford's work serves as a significant addition to PAFA's growing collection of contemporary art.
"Philagrafika 2010: The Graphic Unconscious" will be on view through April 11, 2010. Untitled (Dementia) will subsequently be on view at PAFA from June 26 - September 12, 2010 during an exhibition of selections from PAFA's permanent collection.
Philip Evergood, among the most influential and widely-respected figurative painters of the twentieth century, straddled the line between Surrealism and Social Realism throughout his career. The Great Depression and its societal and political reverberations influenced Evergood's style and subject matter in the 1930s and it was this body of work that brought him his first critical acclaim and established his high reputation in American art. His work into the mid-1940s often focused on the plight and experiences of laborers, including factory scenes, strikes, and working class street life.
"Mine Disaster" is not only one of Philip Evergood's most important works but a major example of American social realism. Long considered among the most significant easel-sized paintings of the 1930s aimed at political and humanist themes, Evergood's painting was an appeal for his audiences to work for change in the world.
At PAFA, "Mine Disaster" joins a later, important Evergood work from a different phase in his career, titled "Threshold to Success" (1955-57), which was purchased out of a PAFA annual in 1958. Mine Disaster is also a part of PAFA's growing collection of Magic Realist and socially concerned art, fleshing out the context for works by Jacob Lawrence, Reginald Marsh, Zoltan Sepeshy, Honoré Sharrer, Jack Levine, Rico LeBrun, Leon Golub, and others.
"Mine Disaster" is currently on view in the Historic Landmark Building.
Raised in Marietta, Ohio, it was there that Lilly Martin Spencer had her first exhibition in 1841. Soon after, Spencer exhibited in Cincinnati where she remained for the following eight years working as a portrait and genre painter until she moved to New York City with her husband and children. Within two years, she was exhibiting at the National Academy of Design, where she was elected an honorary member. Spencer had a strong audience for her work, and Currier and Ives and other prominent 19th century lithography firms reproduced many of her images.
Working as one of the few female artists in what was essentially a male-dominated profession, Martin's humorous and sentimental genre paintings present a different commentary on women's role in society, giving an insider's view of the middle-class domestic sphere. Mother and Child by the Hearth shows a middle-class American mother in the pose of a High Renaissance Madonna and Child, surrounded by the accoutrements of the American middle class dream. Spencer exhibited her work at PAFA in 1861 and 1862, however, Mother and Child by the Hearth is the first work by this most famous of mid-nineteenth century American women artists to enter the collection. The painting complements PAFA's outstanding collection of 19th century portraiture, genre painting, and still life, and will hang comfortably in the company of works by artists such as William Sidney Mount, Severin Roesen, and Thomas Sully. Mother and Child by the Hearth also adds to the collection's strong body of work devoted to the themes of childhood and motherhood from Peale and Heselius family portraits to the work of noted PAFA graduates Mary Cassatt and Cecelia Beaux.
"Mother and Child by the Hearth" is currently on view in the Historic Landmark Building.