A collection of 18 frames each with small, simple inked drawings and a corresponding black-and-white photo of urban life, Lee Friedlander and Jim Dine’s 1969 “Photographs and Etchings” occupies an entire wall in “In Tandem: Inspirations & Collaborations,” a new exhibit at the Addison Gallery of American Art. Friedlander’s photos inspired Dine’s drawings, which exemplifies the themes of friendship and collaboration that inspired the exhibit.
“In Tandem: Inspirations & Collaborations” was curated by Kelley Tialiou, Charles H. Sawyer Curatorial Assistant at the Addison and illuminates how artists have inspired each other or collaborated together. The exhibit includes paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and a three-dimensional piece from the Addison’s permanent collection. The work occupies four rooms, each of which features a distinct theme. The first contains primarily portraits and figures, the second features landscapes, the third features abstract art and the fourth focuses on contemporary work.
“‘In Tandem: Inspirations and Collaborations’ was sparked by the traveling exhibition ‘Converging Lines,’ [also] on view [at the Addison] this fall, which focuses on the friendship between artists Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt. The latter also coincides with the collaborative residency of Edward E. Elson Artists-in-Residence Jennifer Caine and Rachel Hellmann, whose installation ‘Words in Air’ is on view this fall. The premise of ‘In Tandem’ is that the inspiration, influence and dialogue resulting from artists’ various associations are evident in the works of art they produced,” wrote Tialiou in an email to The Phillipian.
Abbott Handerson Thayer’s oil painting, “Woman in Grecian Gown,” is on display as part of the exhibit. This portrait depicts a seated young woman leaning on her left arm and gazing into the distance. A soft glow from an invisible source of light illuminates the woman’s face and contrasts with the dark background.
George de Forest Brush’s oil painting, “Mother and Child,” is also featured in the exhibit. Similar to Handerson’s portrait, Brush’s piece portrays a seated woman who reads a book with a young girl nestled in her lap. This piece is composed of dark green, brown and black hues that create a solemn aesthetic. Like Handerson’s painting, an invisible light brightens the child and differs starkly from the piece’s black background.
“[Handerson’s and Brush’s] outlook on art and society could not have been more compatible, adopting a spiritual approach toward painting and a transcendentalist stance against the confines of formal education… Despite different compositional devices and iconographic references, [Anderson’s] ‘Woman in Grecian Gown’ and Brush’s ‘Mother and Child’ both function as idealizations of womanhood,” wrote Tialiou in the exhibit’s wall text.
László Moholy-Nagy’s 1946 three-dimensional structure “Twisted Planes” and Josef Albers’s 1934 print “Segments” are also in the exhibit. The artists met while at Bauhaus, a design school in Weimar, Germany, before Albers moved to North Carolina in 1933 and Moholy-Nagy left Germany for Chicago in 1937.
“Albers’s ‘Segments’ and Moholy-Nagy’s ‘Twisted Planes’ are examples of the American periods of the artists’ careers. Though geographically separated, Albers and Moholy-Nagy became – in considerable part through allies of the Bauhaus cause, such as [Museum of Modern Art] director Alfred H. Barr, as well as Harvard professor and former Bauhaus colleague Walter Gropius – conduits of the Bauhaus sensibility in the United States,” wrote Tialiou in the exhibit’s wall text.
Albers’s print shows a continuous white line that twists intricately atop a gray background. In Moholy-Nagy’s piece, which is composed of steel and acrylic, several curved rods pass through a transparent centerpiece. These bent rods mirror the curving white line in Albers’s print.
“In Tandem” will be on view until January 3, 2016. A website featuring the works in the exhibition, text entries and links to digitized archival documents will be launched on September 20.