The Bruce Museum’s newest exhibit, Canvas and Cast: Highlights from the Bruce Museum’s Art Collection, opens Saturday, Feb. 11 in Greenwich, is a chance to see the museum’s growing collection, which is never on permanent display.
The exhibit features 35 paintings and seven sculptures from the collection, including long-time favorites along with recent acquisitions representing art from the 16th through the 20th centuries.
The exhibition examines art historical themes including sculpted and painted portraits, narrative scenes and statues, landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes.
For over a century, the collection at the Bruce Museum has grown steadily and been developed carefully through donations and purchases.
After Robert Moffat Bruce bequeathed his home as well as a few portraits to the Town of Greenwich in 1908, the Bruce Museum hosted its first exhibition of art four years later.
At the time, the Greenwich Press noted that it was a welcome change to see “a long gallery hung with paintings from the best works of local artists.”
Beginning in the early 20th century, the museum acquired paintings that were created by artists who were influential in establishing the American Impressionist movement, such as Theodore Robinson, John Henry Twachtman, Leonard Ochtman, and Frederick Childe Hassam.
Emulating the French Impressionists with their loose and broken brushwork and characteristically quick approach to painting landscapes en plein air, these American artists captured the effects of changing light in nature, but often with a more subdued palette.
“In this latest exhibition of the Museum’s artworks, we are especially pleased to be able to reveal for the first time some of the most recent additions to the Bruce collection,” Sutton said, “including the deftly sculpted bas-relief bronze of Robert Louis Stevenson by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a fine coastal scene by Alfred Thomson Bricher, and a spring landscape by the Danish artist Peder Mørk Mønsted, which were purchased just a few months ago.”
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Canvas and Cast explores artists’ handling of different media — bronze, marble, oil, pastel, acrylic and collage — through examples of 16th-century Dutch portraiture, 19th-century American figural sculpture, academic style painting, and French and American landscapes from the turn of the 20th century.
This exhibition also focuses on the treatment of form and composition across time — for instance, the refined handling of the human form in William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s painting Faun and Bacchante (1860) and Auguste Rodin’s bronze-cast sculpture The Kiss (1886).
This pairing is juxtaposed with the work of Expressionist and Abstract Expressionist artists, such as Jack Levine and Robert Rauschenberg, who questioned traditional notions of formal composition almost a century later. Levine’s Mars Confounded (1946) evokes a traditional Classical landscape with reclining nudes, but renders them in a satirical fashion.
Likewise, Rauschenberg’s Greyhound Nightmare (1981) incorporates recognizable, representational imagery, but reconfigured in fantastical juxtapositions.
Canvas and Cast: Highlights from the Bruce Museum’s Art Collection runs through June 18, 2017 at the Bruce Museum.
Organized by Peter C. Sutton, the Susan E. Lynch executive director, and curated by Courtney Skipton Long, Zvi Grunberg postdoctoral fellow 2016/17 at the Bruce Museum, is generously supported by The Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund and the Connecticut Office of the Arts.
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Museum Events related to Canvas and Cast
Thursday, March 29, 6 to 8 p.m. Evening Lecture with Peter C. Sutton, The Susan E. Lynch executive director of the Bruce Museum, will provide a lecture in conjunction with the exhibition. Advance registration at Bruce Museum Eventbrite required.
Sunday Afternoon Lecture Series
Sunday, March 12, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. — Childe Hassam & American Impressionism on the Connecticut Coast by Dr. Jenny Parsons, Assistant Curator, Florence Griswold Museum. Parsons will focus on Childe Hassam’s art production in Cos Cob and Old Lyme and explore the importance of Connecticut art colonies for the development of American Impressionism. Free and open to the public.
Sunday, April 2, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Peppermints and Whiskey: Edward Fuller Bigelow, Paul Griswold Howes and the formation of the Bruce Museum by Tim Walsh, Manager of Natural History Collection and Citizen Science, Bruce Museum. Walsh will discuss the 1908 bequeath of a Victorian stone mansion to the town of Greenwich for the purpose of a museum for natural history, history, and art, and chart the historical progression of transforming a house into a museum. Guests will learn about the two men who compiled the collections and introduced our unique institution the Greenwich community. Free and open to the public.
Sunday, April 9, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Hidden Treasures: Lessons from the Bruce Museum’s Art Collection — Dr. Courtney S. Long, Zvi Grunberg postdoctoral fellow and curatorial assistant, Bruce Museum. Long will discuss lessons learned from the Bruce Museum’s Art Collection by focusing on the relationships between artists and objects that help to narrate the history of art. Free and open to the public.