Saturday, November 4, 2017 from10 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., a Free Community Day in honor of the founding of the Carl Van Vechten Gallery and Georgia O’Keeffe’s gift of the Stieglitz Collection on Nov. 4, 1949 will be held at the Carl Van Vechten Gallery on the campus of Fisk University. On exhibit there will be a new rotation of the Origins of Influence Part II: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern Art and World War I and the Great Migration exhibition.
Housed in a late 19th century Victorian building, The Carl Van Vechten Gallery was established in 1949, when the acclaimed American painter Georgia O’Keeffe donated to Fisk the extraordinary group of works that form The Alfred Stieglitz Collection. The collection was given in honor of O’Keeffe’s husband, Alfred Stieglitz, the pioneering American photographer and art impresario. The gallery was named in honor of Carl Van Vechten, an American novelist, critic, photographer and philanthropist, who played an important role in securing The Stieglitz Collection for Fisk.
The Carl Van Vechten Gallery houses a changing schedule of traveling exhibitions and temporary installations from Fisk University’s permanent art collections. Every two years, the gallery features The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern American and European Art, which includes works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Auguste-Pierre Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and Arthur Dove.
A new spirit enveloped American life at the dawn of the 20th century. It was a spirit of change, dissent, revolution, and of hopefulness. New directions seemed possible in politics, the arts, and in the quality of life overall. Institutions and established ways of thinking were subjected to critical reappraisals. Experimentation replaced acquiescence to received customs and traditions.
Alfred Stieglitz embodied this new spirit more than any of his contemporaries working in the arts. At a time when American culture was redefining its fundamental ways of seeing, thinking, and experiencing the world, Stieglitz’s seminal role as artist and art impresario defined him as a singular force for shaping a new American vision of art and culture. Origins of Influence Part II: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern Art II contimues the celebration of the legacy of the modernist movement.
After his death in 1946, Stieglitz’s widow, Georgia O’Keeffe, and her assistant, Doris Bry, catalogued and donated most of his extensive collection to institutions at home and abroad. Fisk University was among the first to receive works from O’Keeffe, along with The Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art, and The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Works were also given to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Library of Congress, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Phillips Collection, The George Eastman House, and The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, Japan.
Dr. Charles S. Johnson (1893–1956), Fisk University’s first African-American president and his close friend, Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964), a New York writer, photographer, philanthropist, and friend of O’Keeffe, influenced her decision to give works to the university for the establishment of an on-campus art gallery. Today, a partnership between Fisk University and Crystal Bridges allows this important collection to be shared between Nashville, Tennessee and Bentonville, Arkansas on a biannual basis.
World War I and the Great Migration at the Fisk University Galleries examines how the Great War spurred the relocating of 6 million African-Americans from the rural South to the urban centers of the industrial North between 1916 and 1970, with work from the Harlem Renaissance and the Chicago Renaissance, featuring works by Romare Bearden, Malvin Gray Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, William Edouard Scott, Albert E. Smith, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.
The Special Collections Department in the John Hope and Aurelia Franklin Library at Fisk presents Fisk University and the Student Army Training Corps, World War I, 1917-1918.
Also on exhibition, in the Aaron Douglas Gallery, located on the 3rd floor of the John Hope and Aurelia Franklin Library at Fisk is Prentiss Taylor Lithographs: Shifting Viewpoints, curated by 2017-2018 Fisk Gallery Fellow Carey Gibbons (Ph.D. Courtauld, Univ. of London, 2017). This exhibition is not included in the free community day.
Carey wrote this about her research on Taylor and the exhibition:
“Throughout his career, Prentiss Taylor explored his broad-ranging interests through the medium of lithography, finding subject matter through his love for music, architecture, crowds, travel, and social justice. My research on Taylor’s lithographs has led to a number of discoveries about the artist and American printmaking in the twentieth century. Taylor instantly felt at home in the medium of lithography, and after mastering the lithographic crayon, he went on to produce innovative, spontaneous experiments on the lithographic stone with a brush and ink, creating ‘lithoprints’ that suggest the fluid effects associated with watercolors. Taylor’s work is significant for its shifting viewpoint; the artist continually adjusts or rearranges reality to suggest that the eye does not comprehend an entire scene at once but roves and changes focus. Alongside this interest in alternating perspectives one observes a consistent interplay between structural and flexible forms in Taylor’s work. Slinky, sinuous cats are juxtaposed with columns and other architectural elements. In addition to these preoccupations, I am exploring Taylor’s relationships with other artistic figures of his day, including Aaron Copland, Carl Van Vechten, and Langston Hughes, and examining how those relationships may have influenced his artistic practice. I look forward to conveying the results of my research and hopefully raising awareness of the significance of Prentiss Taylor’s work through an academic journal article and an exhibition of the artist’s lithographs [that will open] in the Aaron Douglas Gallery [in October 2017].”
New regular hours for the Stieglitz Gallery: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Extended Hours Thursday and Friday 4 p.m.-7 p.m.