Worcester Art Museum

Heroic sculpture in Worcester

“Heroic Bust of Victor Hugo’’ (1802-85 and author of  Les Miserables,  etc.), by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), in the show “Rodin: Truth, Form, Life,’’ through April 7 at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery at Holy Cross College, whose campus looms over the old industrial city of Worcester, which is enjoying a downtown revival. Meanwhile, the surprisingly extensive Worcester Art Museum merits multiple visits.

“Heroic Bust of Victor Hugo’’ (1802-85 and author of Les Miserables, etc.), by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), in the show “Rodin: Truth, Form, Life,’’ through April 7 at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery at Holy Cross College, whose campus looms over the old industrial city of Worcester, which is enjoying a downtown revival. Meanwhile, the surprisingly extensive Worcester Art Museum merits multiple visits.

'And alchemy'

Work by James Dye, in the show "Exploring the Myths of James Dye'' at the Worcester Art Museum, through Sept. 2.     "You couldn't have a culture without a story,'' he told the museum, which  presents "several of the literary themes that drive Dye's graphic fictions: creation stories, dystopias and alchemy. ... Dye creates elaborate and imaginative India ink drawings informed by common global narratives.''    

Work by James Dye, in the show "Exploring the Myths of James Dye'' at the Worcester Art Museum, through Sept. 2.

"You couldn't have a culture without a story,'' he told the museum, which  presents "several of the literary themes that drive Dye's graphic fictions: creation stories, dystopias and alchemy. ... Dye creates elaborate and imaginative India ink drawings informed by common global narratives.''

 

A great but troubled patron of Modernism

Scofield Thayer.

Scofield Thayer.

Scofield Thayer, a rich man from Worcester, was a central figure in modern literature and visual art, as well as a fascinating case of mental illness.  An exhibition of some of the legendary collection he left will be held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,  in New York, July 3-Oct. 7.

From the Met:

"An aesthete and scion of a wealthy family, Scofield Thayer (1889–1982) was co-owner and editor of the literary magazine the Dial from 1919 to 1926. In this avant-garde journal he introduced Americans to the writings of T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, D. H. Lawrence, Arthur Schnitzler, Thomas Mann, and Marcel Proust, among others. He frequently accompanied these writers' contributions with reproductions of modern art. Thayer assembled his large collection of some six hundred works—mostly works on paper—with staggering speed in London, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna between 1921 and 1923. While he was a patient of Sigmund Freud in Vienna, he acquired a large group of watercolors and drawings by Schiele and Klimt, artists who at that time were unknown in America.

"When a selection from his collection was shown at the Montross Gallery in New York in 1924—five years before the Museum of Modern Art opened—it won acclaim. It found no favor, however, in Thayer's native city, Worcester, Massachusetts, that same year when it was shown at the Worcester Art Museum. Incensed, Thayer drew up his will in 1925, leaving his collection to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He withdrew from public life in the late 1920s and lived as a recluse on Martha's Vineyard and in Florida until his death in 1982.''

To read about the collection, please hit this link.

 

Chinese imperial decadence

"Ming Huang and Yang Gueifei Listening to Music" (detail, ink and light color on silk; early Ming (Chinese) Dynasty), in the show "Dangerous Liaisons,'' at the Worcester Art Museum through April 22 .   The show's curator writes:  "The exhibition is centered around the museum's Ming period handscroll painting titled "Ming Huang and Yang Guifei Listening to Music." The Tang Dynasty emperor, Ming Huang, ruled from 712-756 and his fateful love affair with and marriage to the young consort, Yang Guifie, became an enduring tale of love and tragedy.''  Through the centuries this tale has captivated poets as well as other writers and visual artists in both China and Japan. "Dangerous Liaisons Revisited" examines the story's  appeal through works from the 7th to the 21st Century; each offering a different interpretation of the event and exploring the Tang Dynasty itself, ''an era marked by imperial decadence and sensuality. ''

"Ming Huang and Yang Gueifei Listening to Music" (detail, ink and light color on silk; early Ming (Chinese) Dynasty), in the show "Dangerous Liaisons,'' at the Worcester Art Museum through April 22.

The show's curator writes:

"The exhibition is centered around the museum's Ming period handscroll painting titled "Ming Huang and Yang Guifei Listening to Music." The Tang Dynasty emperor, Ming Huang, ruled from 712-756 and his fateful love affair with and marriage to the young consort, Yang Guifie, became an enduring tale of love and tragedy.''

Through the centuries this tale has captivated poets as well as other writers and visual artists in both China and Japan. "Dangerous Liaisons Revisited" examines the story's  appeal through works from the 7th to the 21st Century; each offering a different interpretation of the event and exploring the Tang Dynasty itself, ''an era marked by imperial decadence and sensuality. ''

In some ways Worcester is wonderful

Inside the Worcester Art Museum, the second-largest art museum in New England. It was founded in 1898, in Worcester's industrial heyday.

Inside the Worcester Art Museum, the second-largest art museum in New England. It was founded in 1898, in Worcester's industrial heyday.

Adapted from an item in Robert Whitcomb’s Dec. 15 “Digital Diary,’’ in GoLocal24.com.

Worcester, which I have always seen as “New England’s Pittsburgh’’ because of its metal-related companies, is enjoying a revival, including in manufacturing, which first made it rich. Indeed, in a recent three-year period, the Worcester area’s manufacturing sector grew 15 percent as measured by revenue.

The city also has numerous higher-education institutions that are contributing to its renaissance, but probably the University of Massachusetts Medical Center has been the most important, helping to turn the city into a major biomedical center. Further, there are big redevelopment projects underway downtown. Some of the revival is simply the westward expansion of the booming Greater Boston economy but some of it is due to healthy homegrown boosterism.

And there are such distinguished cultural centers as the Worcester Art Museum and some gorgeous suburbs, such as Princeton and Harvard, Mass.

Worcester has plenty of problems, of course, but its recent success is edifying for other mid-size cities, in New England and beyond. If only its winters were tad milder. Some of the city is around 1,000 feet above sea level, which makes for considerably more snow and ice than in, say, Boston, Hartford and Providence.

By the way, Worcester is somewhat misleadingly called “the second-biggest city in New England,’’ with a population of about 181,000, compared to Providence’s about 180,000, but the latter’s metro area has many more people than Worcester’s – about 1.3 million compared to Worcester’s about 800,000. Worcester proper has far more square miles, at 38.6, than Providence’s 20.6.

Like Boston and some other Colonial-era towns, Providence’s area is small because other towns in its area were quickly incorporated well before Providence could absorb their acreage as its population and economy boomed in the 19th Century. Consider that while the population of Boston itself is about 667,000, its metro area has about 4.7 million people (or "souls,'' as people used to say).

Out west, on the other hand, cities, such as Phoenix, could easily gobble up vast stretches of unincorporated and under-populated land – much of it effectively wasteland.

 

'Fallen paintings'

polly  

"Blow-Up'' (crushed synthetic velvet, fabric dye, 1997), by POLLY APFELBAUM, in the show "Nevermind: Work from the 90s,'' at the Worcester Art Museum, through March 1.

Ms. Apfelbaum thinks of this sort of work as opening up a new conceptual and physical space for painting and sculpture.

She calls it "fallen paintings,'' which are "poised between painting and sculpture.''  And she says that the floor can be an interesting place for art, since, among other things,  " belongs to domesticity, the place where your dirty clothes go.''