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The Director

January Director’s Message

Dear Friends,
Sincere thanks to everyone who so generously contributed year-end donations to the museum’s Annual Fund. This unrestricted support keeps our organization nimble, ready to grasp new opportunities while planning prudently for our future. Thank you for continuing to support the Wadsworth Atheneum!
As we rang in the New Year at the museum—and a special thank you to all who came over the holidays—many visiting saw a number of exciting new installations in the galleries and perhaps stole a last glimpse of Morgan: Mind of the Collector.
Indeed, throughout the late autumn several galleries were reinstalled, honing the museum experience in visually stunning and intellectually provocative ways. Morris Louis’s massive stain painting Impending (1959) is now on view, rehung together with the works of Helen Frankenthaler, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, and Jackson Pollock. In the Helen and Harry Gray Gallery, a refreshed installation of mid-1700s paintings and objects pop out from the freshly prepared, blue lime-washed walls. John Singleton Copley’s portraits of the rather fancy Marblehead, Massachusetts, couple Jeremiah and Martha Swett Lee (1769) now face an elegant tea table made in Boston (on loan to us from the Wunsch Family Collection); Joseph Blackburn’s 1755 portraits of John Erving, Jr. and his wife Maria Catherine Shirley Erving across the room flank a Philadelphia table set with a punch bowl and silver set. Ralph Earl’s double portrait of the Ellsworths (1792), a selection of silver, and even a pair of Hartford-made shoes anchor this dialogue of evolving styles–America becoming American, in a critical aesthetic transition away from our colonial roots. Come in from the cold and have a look!
Later this month a series of projects engaging with post-WWII sculpture will open. One of the monumental white sculptures by David Smith—the nearly eight foot tall steel construction Untitled (1963), on loan from his daughter Candida Smith—will greet visitors as they enter through the museum’s Main Street doors. As visitors circle the sculpture at the Atheneum and observe how its planes seem to change from each new perspective, a scenic vista will give way to the wavy color bands of Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #793 C (1996). On January 27 we open the first retrospective in many years of the New York school painter/sculptor Herbert Ferber. Space in Tension—organized by the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami–brings together over 20 sculptures and nearly the same number of paintings spanning Ferber’s career of five decades. In it we see the arc and breadth of Abstract Expressionism, as well as this artist’s pivot from abstract figures and forms in his sculptures and paintings toward a new art, a transition he described famously as part of the Waldorf Panel on Sculpture in 1965: “We have developed something which is peculiarly American…which no longer resembles the art of the past.”
There is always something great in the works at your favorite art museum. We look forward to all that lies ahead, and to seeing you all in 2018.
Thomas J. Loughman
Director and CEO