The Delaware Art Museum Blog
Category : Curator Corner

Generous grant allows the Museum to preserve collection and reduce energy costs

February 9, 2015

This winter, the Delaware Art Museum received a Crystal Trust grant to assist with the costs of installing new LED light bulbs in the Museum’s galleries. This grant allows us to significantly enhance the Museum’s ability to sustain and preserve its art collection for future generations. The major goals of this project are to reduce the environmental impact of the Museum’s facilities, implement cost-saving measures, improve the preservation of the collection, and create an optimal aesthetic experience of the collection. Lighting a painting or object is an important part of the installation and can become very time consuming. LED lighting…

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Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salomé

January 28, 2015

On February 7 the Museum opens Oscar Wilde’s Salomé: Illustrating Death and Desire (February 7-May 10, 2015). The genesis for this exhibition was two-fold. Late in 2013 I learned that in February 2015 Opera Philadelphia was presenting Oscar, an opera in two acts written by composer Theodore Morrison from a libretto co-authored with English opera director John Cox which presents the life of Oscar Wilde as he reflects on his time of imprisonment in Reading Goal. The opera was jointly commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Santa Fe Opera and premiered in Santa Fe in July of 2013. It seemed like…

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Bror Thure de Thulstrup

December 9, 2014

In 2006, the Museum received the donation of this illustration signed and dated 1891 by Bror Thule de Thulstrup from a collector who knew a good thing when he saw one. He acquired it even though it lacked any reference to its place and date of publication, a critical bit of information in the history of illustration. Some illustrations have that information inscribed, usually on the reverse, often in a fine, 19th century script. But lacking that, and to complicate matters further, illustrators often created works that were not used immediately, so the date on the work does not necessarily…

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Christmas Card to John and Dolly Sloan

December 9, 2014

Happy Holidays from the Helen Farr Sloan Library and Archives at the Delaware Art Museum! The archives house many delightful holiday greetings from artists, including this charming, hand-painted card that commemorates the friendship between John Sloan and several Native American artists from San Ildefonso Pueblo near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Sloan began spending summers in Santa Fe in 1919 and purchased a home there the following year. He was fascinated by the rich cultural heritage of New Mexico, and his encounters with its Native American communities invigorated Sloan’s painting and etching in the 1920s and 1930s. Like a growing group…

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19th-Century American Art galleries reopen to the public November 28

November 25, 2014

The Delaware Art Museum is pleased to unveil its renovated and re-installed 18th- and 19th-century American Art galleries–Galleries 1, 2, and 3–to the public on Friday, November 28 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Just in time for the holiday season, the beautifully redesigned space will display over 50 works of art, including many permanent collection objects that have not been on view for over 10 years. As part of this re-installation, the galleries will highlight 150 years of portraiture, sculpture, landscape painting, still life, and history painting. “I am excited to be able to present our local Wilmington history within the context…

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The Museum’s American Art Portraits

October 23, 2014

This fall, the Museum refreshed the galleries dedicated to 18th- and 19th-century American Art. As part of this reinstallation, the first gallery highlights 100 years of portraiture in this region. The contents span 1757 through 1856, and all the portraits were produced within a 50-mile radius of the Delaware Art Museum. Familiar favorites by Benjamin West, Thomas Sully, and the Peales are joined by images of two Delaware women. Five-year-old Anna Walraven (1846–1927) holds a daguerreotype of her family, who had recently relocated from Pennsylvania to open a variety store in Wilmington. The first child of John Harding Walraven and…

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To Amuse and Interest: Moral and Cautionary Tales for Children from the Collection of the Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives

August 25, 2014

“When children can read fluently, the difficulty is not to supply them with entertaining books, but to prevent them from reading too much and indiscriminately.  To give them only such as cultivate the moral feelings, and create a taste for knowledge, while they, at the same time, amuse and interest.” ~Richard Lovell Edgeworth, “Address to Mothers,” 1815 Before the middle of the 18th century nearly all children’s books were either purely instructional (spelling books, conduct books) or extremely religious.  Children seeking light and enjoyable reading matter had few choices beyond adult books they adopted as their own. London bookseller John…

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Madonnas of the Prairie: Depictions of Women in the American West

July 29, 2014

LOANS FROM THE ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION to Madonnas of the Prairie: Depictions of Women in the American West at the Panhandle-Plains Historical, Museum, Canyon, Texas (April 12-August 30, 2014) and National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (February 6-May 10, 2015) Now on view at the Panhandle-Plains Historical, Museum, Canyon, Texas, Madonnas of the Prairie encompasses depictions of women in the American West from the late 19thcentury to the present. The Museum’s illustrations by Percy Ivory and Frank Schoonover are focal points of the exhibition’s wide-ranging scope and diverse imagery. Percy Ivory’s demure cowgirl and her apparent suitor, and…

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Larry Holmes: High Watermark on the Teepees

July 2, 2014

Larry Holmes (born 1942) has been an active member of the regional art community since settling in Delaware in the early 1970s. Holmes received his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Science degrees from Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1973. Later that year, Holmes joined the faculty of the University of Delaware where he served as the Chair of the Department of Art from 1982 to 1992 and taught painting until retiring in 2004. Throughout his career, Holmes participated in…

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New Acquisitions

June 5, 2014

New Acquisitions Each year, the Delaware Art Museum adds new works of art to the collection through gifts and purchases. The 2013 fiscal year included 61 additions to nearly all areas of the permanent collection—American Illustration, Pre-Raphaelite art, and American art. Katharine Richardson Wireman’s Cover for Collier’s Weekly was generously donated by Robert Lynn Ellis and Melinda Lou Ellis and was featured in the survey exhibition of the artist’s work, “So Beautifully Illustrated” – Katharine Richardson Wireman and the Art of Illustration (October 6, 2012–January 6, 2013). Several works of art entered the Pre-Raphaelite collection, including Henry Wallis’ Timon and…

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Edward Steichen

March 24, 2014

In 1923 famed portrait photographer Edward Steichen became chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair, a position he would keep until 1937. In doing so he entered one of the most prestigious and lucrative photography jobs in the world, bringing a distinctive artistic vision to Condé Nast’s magazines. Trained as a painter, Steichen had turned to photography in the 1890s, initially producing artistically composed, softly focused images that resembled paintings. He became a favorite of publisher, photographer, and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz, who featured Steichen’s sensitive portraits of artists and Whistlerian landscapes like The Pond—Moonrise, 1904, in his influential publication Camera…

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New Acquisition by Alice Barber Stephens

March 19, 2014

This illustration is one of eight that Alice Barber Stephens made for a 1905 edition of Louisa May Alcott’s popular children’s novel Under the Lilacs. The illustration is an example of both the artist’s accomplished use of charcoal and her ability to capture the lively essence of a story. The plot centers on the exploits of four children and a neighborhood woman as they encounter various adventures and mysteries one summer. In the drawing, three of the characters are searching for lost dollar bills that they find shredded by mice in a drawer. The illustration captures the just-before-the-discovery moment. The…

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The Museum’s Pre-Raphaelites…

March 7, 2014

The Museum’s Pre-Raphaelites included in National Gallery Exhibition! In August of last year I traveled to London to escort three of our paintings from the Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite art for display at an exhibition at Tate Britain entitled Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde. Because I arrived well before the exhibition opening I was only able to view a few of the pieces which would make up the final display, placed around the exhibition galleries waiting to be installed along with ours. Last week I was able to view the show in its full glory at the National Gallery…

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Ph.D. student Katrina Greene researches 500 prints from the Dr. Charles Lee Reese Collection

February 26, 2014

Mysteries solved. Discoveries made. Inquiries opened. Ph.D. student Katrina Greene has just completed her second internship at the Delaware Art Museum, where she has tackled a variety of projects related to the museum’s collection of American Art.At the Delaware Art Museum, Greene researched many works of art. She compiled a complete conservation record for Raphaelle Peale’s Absalom Jones (1810), allowing museum staff to better understand the history, condition, and conservation requirements of one of the Museum’s most important 19th-century paintings, and she sorted out the complicated story behind the production of Robert Weir’s Indian Captives, Massachusetts 1650 (1840), an earlier version of which is…

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Donated Landseer sketch came from unusual source

January 13, 2014

This engaging fragment of a sketch by the great British animal painter, Edwin Landseer (1802 – 1873), was acquired by the Museum not long after it was made. Surprisingly, it was a gift of the Brandywine School painter John McCoy (1910 – 1989). McCoy’s early life sets him apart from many artists of this period. He was born in California, but moved to Wilmington with his family in 1915 when he was just five years old. Although his interest in art was encouraged by a Wilmington Friends School teacher, his father insisted he obtain a college degree first. Toward the…

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Promised gift of 25 copper and brass objects by William Arthur Smith Benson

January 13, 2014

About two years ago, I received an unexpected phone call from a Washington D.C. architect who was looking to place a collection of metalwork by the Arts and Crafts designer William Arthur Smith Benson (1854 – 1924). He explained that it would be a “promised gift,” meaning it would come to the Museum after his death. He knew of our collection of Pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts art from his Delaware relatives, and felt the Delaware Art Museum would provide the right context for his collection. In honor of our centenary celebrations, the donor has allowed us to show these…

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Acquired black and white work by Howard Pyle and engraved woodblock created by J. P. Davis

January 13, 2014

The Museum recently acquired this black and white work by Howard Pyle and the engraved woodblock created by J. P. Davis for its reproduction in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. The gouache is one of three that Pyle created for this article about the coffee houses of New York City, places of political discourse in the late 18th century. Author John Austin Stevens belonged to a class of writer that was diminishing in the 1880s as historians turned increasingly to research rather than to literary models for the writing of history. Primarily a businessman, Stevens developed a deep knowledge of American history,…

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On view in the Sue Ann and John L. Weinberg Galleries

November 26, 2013

ON VIEW IN THE SUE ANN AND JOHN L. WEINBERG GALLERIES December 11, 2013 through c. mid-March 2014 Edward Penfield’s advertising posters for Harper’s New Monthly Magazine have become his most recognized works. Their popularity flourished during the so-called Poster Craze of the 1890s, when boldly-designed colorful posters that advertised publications, merchandise, and public events were considered collectible works of art. To meet the demand, publishers often sold them—sometimes without their advertising lines—both directly and through print dealers. The press of the period printed lively discussions of poster art; books about posters proliferated; museums began to form poster collections; galleries exhibited European…

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Gallery 17 Reinstallation

October 30, 2013

This fall, the contemporary gallery is undergoing a major renovation and reinstallation. Dedicated to the Museum’s holdings of contemporary American art, the gallery offers a representative overview from 1960 to the present. Nearly 400 works of art have been added to the contemporary holdings since the Museum reopened in 2005, necessitating a reorientation of the gallery and the addition of temporary walls to accommodate the expanding collection.Reconfiguring the gallery afforded the chance to delve into the Museum’s holdings, identifying works of art not regularly on view. A focus wall will be dedicated to the display of these works, including the…

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Halloween Puzzle by John Sloan

September 25, 2013

Although best known as a painter of incidents on the streets of New York, John Sloan began his career as a newspaper illustrator in Philadelphia. Starting in 1892 at the Inquirer, Sloan traveled the city and suburbs on assignment from the paper. He was not particularly fast at drawing—his friend Robert Henri joked that Sloan was the past tense of “slow”—but he developed a decorative style that served well for headings, advertisements, and illustrations for fiction and the society pages. His elegant newspaper style drew elements from Japanese prints, French posters, and art nouveau decorations. The stylish illustrations attracted attention, and…

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Now Mr. Dunkus? that wasn’t the right thing to say by Barbara Shermund

August 29, 2013

After her art education in California, 26-year-old Barbara Shermund moved to New York City in 1925, where she began working as a cartoonist and story illustrator. She quickly became one of the first female cartoonists at the newly-founded The New Yorker. Over the next twenty years, she contributed nine covers and hundreds of cartoons to the magazine, usually writing her own captions. Her drawings also appeared in Esquire and LIFE, as well as in books of humor. She regularly exhibited her work in New York galleries, in the company of contemporaries such as James Thurber and historic artists such as Honoré Daumier. In fact,…

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Sarah Wyman Whitman

July 30, 2013

Sarah Wyman Whitman (1842-1904) was a Boston socialite, painter, designer of stained glass, and pioneer in the field of book cover design.  She began her formal art training in 1868, studying first with William Morris Hunt in Boston then with Thomas Couture, Hunt’s former teacher, in France. Though her professional training was brief Hunt considered Whitman to be one of his more gifted students and encouraged her to pursue her dream of becoming a serious artist. Whitman was inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites, particularly Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and became a leading figure in Boston’s Arts and Crafts movement. By the early…

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Mitch Lyons: Clay Monoprints

June 26, 2013

Untitled, c. 1990s Mitch Lyons (born 1938) Clay monoprint, 17 x 37 inches Delaware Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2012 © Mitch Lyons Untitled, c. 2000s Mitch Lyons (born 1938) Clay monoprint, 40 x 30 inches Delaware Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2012 © Mitch Lyons Untitled, c. 1980s Mitch Lyons (born 1938) Clay monoprint, 27 x 25 inches Delaware Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2012 © Mitch Lyons MITCH LYONS: CLAY MONOPRINTS Mitch Lyons (born 1938) is a well-known and important part of the local art community, who over the past three decades has developed a…

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Red Grooms: Paul Bocuse’s World

May 28, 2013

Paul Bocuse’s World, 1977 Red Grooms (born 1937) Acrylic on canvas with wood frame construction, 106 x 181 x 1 5/8 inches Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Marvin H. Balistocky, 2012 (2012-14) RED GROOMS: PAUL BOCUSE’S WORLD In 2012, Dr. and Mrs. Marvin H. Balistocky generously donated Paul Bocuse’s World, a significant painting by the American artist Red Grooms (born 1937). One of the most important artists of the second half of the 20th century, Grooms was born in Nashville, Tennessee and began studies at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1955. He settled in New York City…

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A New Look for the American Illustration Gallery

April 30, 2013

Sailor’s Fantasy, 1915 N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945) Oil on canvas, 39 1/2 x 31 3/4 inches Special Purchase Fund, 1920 “You can’t leave her here to suffer. Whether you want to or not, you’ll have to do it.”, 1925 Gayle Porter Hoskins (1887-1962) Oil on canvas, 26 x 36 inches Gayle and Alene Hoskins Endowment Fund, 1979 Old Man and Boy with Toy Steam Engine, cover for The Country Gentleman, December 16, 1916 Katharine Richardson Wireman (1878-1966) Oil on illustration board, 24 1/2 x 20 3/8 inches Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Sharon S. Galm, 2011 The Delaware Art Museum’s rich and unique…

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Savoyard Hospitality by Thomas Matthews Rooke

March 7, 2013

This charming image of two female travelers entitled Savoyard Hospitality, by the Pre-Raphaelite artist, Thomas Matthews Rooke (1842-1942), is a recent gift to the Museum. Rooke, who worked primarily in watercolor, received his early training at the Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. At age 29 he applied for a job at William Morris and Company and was shortly thereafter assigned to assist the painter, Edward Burne-Jones in his studio. Rooke acted as the older artist’s studio assistant until his death. The two developed a close working relationship with Burne-Jones endearingly referring to his assistant as “Little Rooke” or…

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Gertrude Kasebier

February 20, 2013

In 1907, Everett Shinn sent John Sloan a postcard that reads: “Was up to be photographed today, great fun, being an artist, with temperament.” This quick note, illustrated with a spontaneous sketch, is one of my favorite items at the Museum. Yet it is just the sort of treasure—small, light-sensitive, and requiring curatorial explication—that usually remains in storage. The tale behind this off-hand sketch provided the inspiration for the exhibition Gertrude Käsebier’s Photographs of the Eight: Portraits for Promotion, which is on view through July 7, 2013. The postcard to Sloan memorialized a photo-session, endured by Shinn, with the New York…

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David C. Driskell: Scholar, Curator, Artist

February 6, 2013

As we began celebrating Black History Month, I had the opportunity to research some fascinating works of art in the Museum’s collection by leading African American artists. One notable artist is David C. Driskell (born 1931), who devoted his career to the study and presentation of African American art. Driskell was raised in North Carolina and enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1950. His studies continued at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, and he obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree from Catholic University. Driskell found his initial impact on the field was in…

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Christ leads the Blind Man out of Bethsaida by Frederic James Shields

January 17, 2013

Late in 2011, the Museum had the opportunity to purchase this watercolor of the Blind Man of Bethsaida by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Frederic Shields (1833–1911).  Shields was born in Hartlepool, in northeastern England, but spent most of his working life in Manchester and London.  The premature death of his father left him responsible for the support of his mother and siblings at a young age. His autobiography describes acute poverty and periods of semi-starvation—circumstances that deeply influenced his life-long religious piety.  His artistic training was limited to apprenticeships in the commercial engraving industry and evening art classes in Manchester and London. Shields’…

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The Dreamer by Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones

December 17, 2012

Visiting the stellar drawings show, Mantegna to Matisse: Master Drawings from the Courtauld Gallery at the Frick Collection recently, I was struck, as most visitors are, by Michelangelo’s The Dream (c.1533)—one of the most significant drawings by the Renaissance master. The central figure is a glorious male nude, his muscles articulated in confident strokes of black chalk. He is visited by a winged figure that descends to wake the man from a vivid dream, represented by vignettes of the seven deadly sins that encircle the central pair. Though freighted with complex iconography, Michelangelo’s drawing perfectly conveys the experience of dreaming and the half-remembered visions…

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“Wreck in the Offing!” – Scene in a Life-saving Station by Howard Pyle

December 4, 2012

“Wreck in the Offing!” – Scene in a Life-saving Station,” 1878, forHarper’s Weekly, March 9, 1878 Howard Pyle (1853-1911) Gouache on paper, 14 3/4 x 21 1/8 inches Gayle and Alene Hoskins Endowment Fund, 1984 This illustration is on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the exhibition Shipwreck! Winslow Homer and The Life Linethrough January 1, 2013. It is one of 78 works of art and artifacts that provided a context for Winslow Homer’s painting The Life Line(1884; Philadelphia Museum of Art), a scene of a rescue at sea.  It also provided a turning point in Howard Pyle’s career. The scene is…

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Delaware Remembers Sculptor Charles Parks

November 8, 2012

Beloved local sculptor Charles Parks received numerous national awards and commissions, and his work is in public and private collections around the country. Locally his work can be seen outdoors at the University of Delaware and at Brandywine Park. In 2011 the State of Delaware received his collection of approximately 290 lifetime works. The artist is also well represented in the collection of the Delaware Art Museum. The earliest of seven works spanning the artist’s long and productive career, Standing Figure is on view in Gallery 16 to honor the passing of Parks. This carved walnut statue is a very early example…

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Thomas Eakins Seated Cross Legged with His Palette by Samuel Murray

October 25, 2012

Thomas Eakins Seated Cross Legged with His Palette, 1907, cast 1909 Samuel Murray (1869–1941) Plaster, metal and wood, 9 1/2 x 9 5/8 x 8 3/4 inches Gift of Dr. Christine I. Oaklander in memory of Dr. William Innes Homer, a superb teacher and scholar of American art, 2012 In 1886, 17-year-old Samuel Murray began to study art with the painter Thomas Eakins (1844–1916) at the newly founded Art Students League of Philadelphia. The League had been started by a group of Eakins’ pupils who followed him from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, from which he had been fired…

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Edward Hopper’s Summertime

October 11, 2012

Summertime, 1943 Edward Hopper (1882–1967) Oil on canvas 29 1/8 x 44 inches Gift of Dora Sexton Brown, 1962 Marking the end of the season, Edward Hopper’s Summertime has gone off view at the Delaware Art Museum. The painting is in Paris for a major retrospective exhibition that opens October 10 at the Grand Palais. Summertime joins Hopper’s most famous painting Nighthawks (1942, Art Institute of Chicago) and many others, as well as early illustrations, watercolors, and etchings. In the first section of the exhibition, devoted to Hopper’s development and early years, Hopper’s own works are joined by those that influenced him, including works by American artists…

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William Zorach: Moonlight

September 27, 2012

Modern Art to my generation was a spiritual awaking, a freeing of Art from the idea of copying Nature. We entered into a whole new world of form and color that opened up before us. —William Zorach, 1931 In the early 20th century, William Zorach was in the vanguard of American art. His paintings, prints, and sculptures reflected his interest in European modernist art. With its vivid color and stylized, angular forms, Moonlight is a perfect example—a fusion of Fauvism and Cubism, inflected with the artist’s own decorative sensibility. Zorach discovered modern art with the help of his wife, the artist Marguerite…

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Toshiko Takaezu: Closed Forms

September 13, 2012

Pink Lady #1, 1989 Toshiko Takaezu (1922?2011) Stoneware, 16 x 9 x 9 inches Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Toshiko Takaezu, 2009 Untitled (Moon Pot), 2006 Toshiko Takaezu (1922?2011) Stoneware, 22 x 22 x 22 inches Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Toshiko Takaezu, 2009 Untitled, c. 1997 Toshiko Takaezu (1922?2011) Stoneware, 28 ? x 11 x 11 inches Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Toshiko Takaezu, 2009 TOSHIKO TAKAEZU: CLOSED FORMS An innovator in the field of contemporary ceramics, Toshiko Takaezu (1922–2011) was born in Hawaii in 1922. She left the island in 1951 to study ceramics and weaving at Cranbrook Academy of Art…

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