PHILADELPHIA — From the American Dream to unnerving realities, Woodmere Art Museum’s bold spring exhibitions showcase a wide variety of paintings and works on paper from 20th- and 21st-century artists with strong connections to Philadelphia. Salvatore Pinto: A Retrospective Celebrating the Barnes Legacy looks back on the career of one of Philadelphia’s great 20th-century artists, who studied at the Barnes Foundation. Concurrently, Haunting Narratives: Detours from Philadelphia Realism, 1935 to the Present showcases the work of nearly 60 artists from the mid-1900s to the present who abandoned traditional modes of realism in favor of darker, more “haunting” narratives, a genre that has been at the center of Philadelphia art for centuries. Woodmere Art Museum (9201 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia) presents both exhibitions, May 12–July 15.
Part of a family of artists who moved to Philadelphia from Italy in 1909, Salvatore Pinto (1905-1966) was a prized student of Albert Barnes and a teacher at the Barnes Foundation, transmitting ideas of European modernism to generations of American art students. Pinto, who attended the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (now the University of the Arts) and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, absorbed the latest trends of avant-garde painting from mentors like Henri Matisse, with whom Pinto studied in the South of France on a Barnes Foundation Travelling Scholarship. Working in media ranging from painting and printmaking to photography and furniture design, Pinto embraced what he learned from his travels abroad and developed a distinctly American repertoire of subjects, including a series inspired by Long Beach Island shorelines. Coinciding with the opening of the Barnes Foundation on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Salvatore Pinto: A Retrospective Celebrating the Barnes Legacyoffers a comprehensive view of Pinto’s oeuvre, offering with examples of works by his brothers Angelo and Biagio, to honor an essential transatlantic link between Philadelphia and European modernism.
Haunting Narratives: Detours from Philadelphia Realism focuses on the thematically dark, often hauntingly strange works of art made by painters and printmakers of Philadelphia since the 1930s. Benton Spruance, Robert Riggs and Leon Kelly set the stage in the 1930s for this unique thread of narrative art, a tradition that continued in the work of Sidney Goodman, Peter Paone and Ben Kamihira. The exhibition is rounded out by the many contemporary twists on the genre from artists like Daniel Heyman, Hiro Sakaguchi, Judith Schaecter and Lisa Yuskavage, among many other artists with Philadelphia ties. Selected from a broad artistic spectrum, the works in Haunting Narratives are diverse, ranging from pictorially dark, murky scenes to paradoxically colorful, seemingly lighthearted facades that mask a more unpromising reality.
“Both exhibitions,” says Woodmere Art Museum curator Matthew Palczynski, “underscore the major contributions Philadelphia’s artists have made in 20th- and 21st-century art, an impact that we’re continually unpacking.”
These exhibitions are accompanied by a series of discussions, lectures and tours, as well as the student exhibition Dream Explore Discover, on view May 13 to July 1 in the Helen Millard Children’s Gallery. [A full calendar of events follows below.]
Woodmere Art Museum is located at 9201 Germantown Avenue. Admission to special exhibitions is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, and FREE for students, children and Museum members; exhibitions in the Founder’s Gallery and Helen Millard Children’s Gallery are FREE. Museum hours are: Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.–8:45 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. For more information, visit www.woodmereartmuseum.org or call 215-247-0476.
Exhibitions: Salvatore Pinto: A Retrospective Celebrating the Barnes Legacy
Antonelli galleries, Corridor Gallery
Haunting Narratives: Detours from Philadelphia Realism, 1935 to the Present
Kuch, del Bueno and Schnader Galleries
May 12–July 15, 2012
Open House: Saturday, May 19, 1–4 p.m.
Dream Explore Discover
Helen Millard Children’s Gallery
May 13–July 1
Reception: Sunday, May 13, 2–4 p.m.
At The Academy in Manayunk (AIM), the words “dream,” “explore” and “discover,” describe the birth of a creative idea and all its possibilities. Through their wide-ranging art projects, AIM students in grades one through 12 show how to “catch the trade winds in your sails” and celebrate opportunity when it presents itself.
Lecture: Exploring Haunting Narratives
Saturday, June 2, 3–4 p.m.
Philadelphia has been a major center for narrative “realism” for centuries. For this lecture, Matthew Palczynski, curator of the exhibition Haunting Narratives, explores the dark twists to Philadelphia’s narrative tradition.
Lecture: Reality Reassembled: The Art of Peter Paone
Saturday, June 9, 3–4 p.m.
Peter Paone’s art resides somewhere between realism and surrealism, in a world that deals with the reality of relationships and favors the substance of the imagination rather than the substance of everyday vision. Join the artist in this richly illustrated lecture on the journey his work has taken, and what it means to be a “rebel realist” as a way of life and not just a style of art.
Lecture: Salvatore Pinto and the Barnes Legacy
Saturday, June 16, 3–4 p.m., FREE
Salvatore Pinto (1905-1966) was part of a Philadelphia-based family of artists that, along with his brothers Angelo and Biagio, were favored and collected by Albert C. Barnes. Through his Foundation, Barnes awarded Pinto prizes to inspire his “modernism” through travels to Europe, Corsica and Africa. William Valerio, Woodmere’s Director and CEO, will talk about the artist, his work and how the Pinto brothers were a transatlantic link between Philadelphia and European modernism.
Lecture: Second Skin: The Art of Susan Moore
Saturday, June 23, 3–4 p.m.
Susan Moore is attracted to portraiture in which the individual persona is indicated by the barest of means. Ignoring sentiment or personal knowledge of the subject, Moore creates remote mask-like portraits that allow the viewer to make a variety of interpretations. The artist will look back at her work and, in particular, the tattoo series Second Skin.
Panel Discussion: Narrative Realism
Saturday, June 30, 3–4:30 p.m.
Woodmere curator Matthew Palczynski is joined by contemporary artists Martha Erlebacher, Daniel Heyman, Mark Shetabi and Patricia Traub for this lively discussion on narrative “realism” in the arts of Philadelphia. Panelists will talk about their work and careers, along with the artistic choices that sometimes lead to thematically dark, mysterious and compelling works.
[All lectures and gallery talks are $15 ($10 for members) unless otherwise noted and include a wine and cheese reception. Preregistration is suggested for all programs; for more information, call 215-247-0476 or visit www.woodmereartmuseum.org.]
Salvatore Pinto: A Retrospective Celebrating the Barnes Legacyis sponsored by the Robert Lehman Foundation Inc.