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First comprehensive survey of William Glackens in over 45 years opens at NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale
William James Glackens (American, 1870–1938), Captain’s Pier, 1912–1914. Oil on canvas, 25 1/8 x 30 1/8 inches (63.8 x 76.5 cm). Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME, Gift of Stephen M. Etnier, Honorary Degree, 1969; 1957.127
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.- NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale announces William Glackens, the first comprehensive exhibition since 1966 of this key American artist. William Glackens is organized and presented in collaboration with the Parrish Art Museum and the Barnes Foundation, where the exhibition will also travel. The show spans the artist’s career, with works from the mid-1890s to the late 1930s. Glackens’s oeuvre will be examined through more than 85 of the most important paintings and works on paper from some of America's finest private and public collections, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. Several works will be on view to the public for the first time since 1966. This long-overdue survey will introduce the artist to a new generation of viewers and aims to further scholarship on this pivotal figure in the history of American art.

Curated by noted independent writer and art historian Avis Berman, the exhibition focuses on Glackens’s most distinctive and adventurous works to present the full breadth of his oeuvre. “Glackens combined an enchanting zest for life with an arsenal of sophisticated techniques. Yet, with no comprehensive survey of his work in nearly fifty years, a thorough reassessment of this key figure in American art is long overdue. This exhibition takes a much-needed look at the artist’s estimable career and reveals him as a modern artist of ambition and spirit,” Berman states about the artist and the exhibition.

Such touchstones of American art as Hammerstein’s Roof Garden (ca. 1901), Girl with Apple (1909-1910), Family Group (1910-1911), and The Green Car (1910) will be presented alongside other key pieces from each decade of his career, including La Villette (ca.1895), Cape Cod Pier (1908), and The Soda Fountain (1935). These important paintings represent Glackens’s matchless ability to capture people and their surroundings with spontaneity and spirit.

This exhibition explores the wide range of motifs that run throughout Glackens’s work. In addition to a fascination for the urban spectacle of New York City, a love for travel led him to sunny landscapes and shorelines. A gifted painter and draftsman, he also successfully mastered portraits, figure studies and still lifes, all genres that will be presented in the exhibition.

Born in Philadelphia in 1870, Glackens studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. At the Academy and as an artist for the Philadelphia Press, he became friends with fellow artists Robert Henri, George Luks, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan, the core of the group that would later form The Eight as a reaction against the National Academy of Design’s hidebound exhibition policies. The Eight exhibited together only once, in 1908, opening a wedge in the struggle to democratize the process by which artists could show and sell their work. Glackens was on the selection committee of the 1910 Exhibition of Independent Artists, the first large-scale invitational show of progressive artists, and was chairman of the American section of the epochal Armory Show, which introduced European vanguard art to this country in 1913. With these roles Glackens became a powerful advocate for landmark exhibitions of the American and European avant-garde.

Glackens attended Philadelphia’s prestigious Central High School with Albert C. Barnes, the pharmaceuticals magnate. The artist traveled to Paris on a buying trip for Barnes in 1912 and sent back works by Paul Cézanne, Maurice Denis, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. These purchases became the nucleus of Barnes’s fabled collection. The two men remained close, and Barnes became his loyal and most important patron. Barnes found Glackens indispensable, stating, “The most valuable single educational factor to me has been my frequent association with a life-long friend who combines greatness as an artist with a big man’s mind.”

NSU Museum of Art’s current holdings include more than 500 works that cover the full spectrum of Glackens’s career and represent the largest collection of his work. More than two-dozen paintings, drawings and prints from NSU Museum of Art’s collection will be incorporated in this comprehensive exhibition. The museum is currently undergoing a strategic four-year William Glackens Collection Initiative, a major component of this project is the William Glackens Research Collection and Study Center, slated to open in 2014. In April 2013, NSU Museum of Art was the recipient of a $40,000 grant from the Art Works program of the National Endowment for the Arts to help fund the Research Collection and Study Center. The grant supplements existing financial support from one of the museum’s longtime partners in excellence, the Sansom Foundation. The educational facility will be the central repository for all current and future Glackens materials owned by the museum, establishing it as a central hub for Glackens scholarship. Access to the Research Collection and Study Center will be available online to scholars, educators, students, and the general public worldwide.



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