The Delaware Art Museum Blog
Category : Blog Roll

Dazzling 1928 painting by Harvey Dunn is repaired and returned to original splendor

August 29, 2018

I audibly gasped as I circled the desk and caught sight of the painting. It was lushly painted with an evocative composition and energetic brushwork. The influence of Howard Pyle was palpable. I kneeled down for a better look—careful not to bump the pictures behind me—and groaned. The painting had obvious damage: a tear in the sky below the waiving handkerchief, a puncture near the railing in the lower right corner, and scratches across the surface. A clear signature, reading “Harvey Dunn 1928,” kept me interested. Dunn was an important illustrator and a Pyle student, and the date was well…

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Contemporary Craft: Then and Now

July 19, 2018

In spring, 1958, during a lecture for the Delaware Art Museum’s first annual exhibition of contemporary craft, Thomas S. Tibbs, director of New York’s Museum of Contemporary Craft (now the Museum of Arts in Design) called for the breaking down of barriers between the so-called “fine arts” and the work of artist-craftsmen. Organized by the Delaware Art Museum’s Education Department and the Studio Group of Wilmington, the special display included experimentations in weaving, silver, furniture, ceramics, and enameling. A tradition was established, and the show continued every year until it was combined with the Museum’s annual painting and sculpture exhibitions…

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American Jews in the Civil Rights Movement

June 26, 2018

The three artists on display in Fusco Gallery—Danny Lyon, Burton Silverman, and Harvey Dinnerstein—are all known for their visual documentation of the civil rights movement: Danny Lyon through photographs of Freedom Summer, and Silverman and Dinnerstein through sketches of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. They also have something else in common. All three of these artists are Jewish. Their connection to the civil rights movement is part of a proud tradition of young, progressive Northern Jews who went down South to record history being made, and to participate in it. Jewish involvement in the cause of civil rights has been attributed…

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On View: An Artistic Journey with Edward Loper

May 17, 2018

On museum walls, artists are often represented by a single work of art. Curators seek out the ideal painting or sculpture to characterize the artist—a mature work, but not a really late one, in the style most frequently associated with that artist. Occasionally, we have the opportunity to explore the arc of an artist’s career by acquiring and displaying multiple works. Three paintings currently on view at the Museum demonstrate the stylistic evolution of Wilmington painter Edward Loper Sr. The canvasses date from 1937 through the 1970s and range from realistic rendering to prismatic abstraction, highlighting the development of Loper’s…

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The Montgomery Bus Boycott

April 17, 2018

For the British artist and writer John Ruskin, drawing was a path to understanding. In his desire to comprehend the natural world, he depicted cross-sections of plants, geological formations, and Alpine roses in their natural habitat. Drawing, and the close investigation it requires, allowed Ruskin to better interpret his surroundings and society in his writings. As we turn our attention from Ruskin and Andrew Wyeth who both looked long and hard at nature, we lift our gaze to take in the happenings around us. This summer we turn our attention from Ruskin and Andrew Wyeth, who both looked long and…

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African American Art: Migration and Modernism

February 7, 2018

In 1940 and 1941, Jacob Lawrence produced a series of 60 paintings called the Migration Series. These paintings documented the Great Migration, an influx of African Americans from the rural South into northern cities during the first half of the 20th century. Lawrence completed the series when he was only 23 years old and the importance of his project was appreciated immediately. Within months, the works were purchased by leading museums and Lawrence soon became the nation’s most successful Black artist. The Migration panels enumerate the reasons that African Americans fled the South including poverty, lack of education, and widespread…

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Themes of Social Justice in the 2018 Performance Series

January 30, 2018

The 2018 Performance Series provides a clear picture of the Delaware Art Museum’s commitment to becoming an anchor cultural institution in an urban setting. As a part of our exciting and inclusive new strategic vision, we are dedicated to community and the arts by offering engaging programming in all art forms. The Performance Series represents a concerted effort to bring community members from all walks of life into contact with works that push artistic boundaries and encourage discussion around challenging topics within the social and political context of the present day. In this blog post we’ll explore the social justice…

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The Artist’s Vision: John Sloan’s Self-Portraits

December 7, 2017

At a recent gallery program organized by the Delaware Art Museum, I had the wonderful opportunity to witness the power of close looking and dialogue brought together in an art gallery. On November 2nd and 5th, I led the inaugural Inside Look Series, consisting of informal participatory dialogues about a work of art for an extended period of time. The focus of my talk was John Sloan’s self-portraits in the DAM exhibition An American Journey: The Art of John Sloan. Thanks to the insightful questions and comments from the talk’s enthusiastic audience, I developed some thoughts about Sloan’s self-portraits, especially…

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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, 1909

November 13, 2017

The more things change, the more they stay the same. — Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808–1890) In 1909, Gayle Hoskins created the frontispiece for Elizabeth Dejeans’ novel The Winning Chance. The story centers on 19-year-old Janet Carew (left), who must work to support her impoverished family. She becomes a typist for older, prosperous, married stockbroker Leo Varek (left). Before long, he makes his predatory advance, telling her that if she succumbs he will ensure her family’s welfare. Janet has already resigned other positions after resisting similar abuse. She had hoped that this job would be different. Hoskins captures Janet’s fear after she…

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Tales from the Vault: Mystery solved and connections made

July 28, 2017

In reviewing works on paper by Howard Pyle artist during the inventory supported by our IMLS grant, I examined a small drawing that he inscribed and gave to C. L. Ward in 1907. It depicts an old man gazing out a window at an equally ancient horse-drawn carriage. Pyle created the illustration in 1892 for Oliver Wendell Holmes’ book of light verse The One Hoss Shay with its Companion Poems, How the Old Horse Won the Bet & The Broomstick Train of 1892. To the lower left of the illustration, the artist drew the profile of a mustachioed man in…

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Firework Coasters

June 29, 2017

Bring the fireworks indoors for the 4th of July with this explosive tutorial from our #DAMCreative Educators. Here’s what it takes: Glazed tiles Permanent markers A spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol A pipette A lighter   Directions: Create a colorful pattern on your tile with markers. Don’t worry about being too neat! Using a pipette, cover the surface of the tile with alcohol. Use the lighter to set fire to the alcohol. Once all of the alcohol is burned off, the flame will extinguish. To add a little extra flare, spray tile with alcohol from the bottle to create…

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John Sloan’s Long Shadows

June 28, 2017

Call it a conservation revelation. Sometimes you don’t know how dirty a painting is until it’s clean, or at least until you start cleaning it. John Sloan’s 1918 oil painting Long Shadows is just such a work. As paintings conservator Mark Bockrath observed, “As soon as I cleaned the house, I could see that there was a wonderful painting under that dense grime.” Cleaning revealed the artist’s dazzling color and lively brushwork. The shadows incorporate rich blue and plum tones that contrast beautifully with the impressive range of greens employed for the grass, shrubs, and trees. The foliage, in particular,…

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Letters between Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Fanny Cornforth Available Online Through New Digital Collections Portal

March 17, 2017

The Samuel Bancroft, Jr. collection of Rossetti manuscripts provides a unique window into the relationship between Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his model and mistress, Fanny Cornforth. Cornforth was a chameleon-like figure who passed went under a myriad of names and roles in her lifetime. Indeed, the name under which we know her was a complete fabrication, with her stepson, Fred Schott, informing Samuel Bancroft, Jr. that it was assumed in a spirit “of girlish caprice,” as the surname was taken from the mother-in-law of her short-lived first marriage. Cornforth’s real name remains a matter of dispute among biographers, some of…

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Conserving John Sloan

November 28, 2016

Eleven months and counting! On October 21, 2017, the Delaware Art Museum will open An American Journey: The Art of John Sloan, the first career retrospective of Sloan’s work since 1988. This exhibition is pulled entirely from the Museum’s unparalleled collection of work by John Sloan, much of which was donated by the artist’s widow, Helen Farr Sloan (1911–2005). The show will include over 100 items—paintings, prints, illustrations, sketches, archival photographs, illustrated letters—from every stage of the artist’s career. There will be newspaper illustrations from the Philadelphia Inquirer, paintings and etchings of New York City, protest cartoons from The Masses,…

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Dr. Heather Campbell Coyle appointed Chief Curator

November 16, 2016

Dr. Heather Campbell Coyle, the Delaware Art Museum’s Curator of American Art since 2009, has been promoted to Chief Curator of the Museum, effective January 1, 2017. Dr. Coyle is an expert on Ashcan School artist John Sloan and The Eight, an influential group of 20th-century American painters. Thanks to the generosity of Helen Farr Sloan (1911-2005), the artist’s second wife and devoted widow, the Delaware Art Museum is home to the largest collection of art by Sloan, as well as the John Sloan Manuscript Collection, a treasure trove of archival materials. In her new role, Dr. Coyle will be…

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Poetry in Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Marie Spartali Stillman travels to the UK

February 8, 2016

On view February 29 – June 5, 2016 The groundbreaking exhibition Poetry in Beauty received national and international recognition, including an intimate interview with its curators on BBC News, while it was on view at the Museum (November 7, 2015 – January 31, 2016). The exhibition will be on view March 1 – June 5, 2016 across the pond at the Watts Gallery in Compton, in the Guildford district of Surrey in England. The exhibition will be smaller in size, but will be shown in the gallery and studio of the Victorian painter George Frederic Watts (1817–1904), a contemporary and…

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The Museum receives new acquisition for Illustration collection

February 1, 2016

In March 1933, a headline in the Wilmington Morning News announced: “Give Priceless Art and Museum Site to Local Society.” The article detailed the offer, made on behalf of the estate of collector Samuel Bancroft by his widow, son, and daughter, of “an unrivaled collection” of British Pre-Raphaelite art and related books and manuscripts to the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts. Allied with this gift was the offer of several acres of land on Park Drive (now Kentmere Parkway) on which to build a museum. The gift of the Bancroft Collection was conditional upon the erection of a museum…

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Now on view in the Pre-Raphaelite galleries!

December 15, 2015

It is human nature to categorize, and this method of learning is often applied to our understanding of art. The placement of one or more works of art of different style, time period or locale can stimulate new observations, breaking down previously held assumptions and adding to our understanding of the referential nature of the history of art. Now on view in the Pre-Raphaelite  galleries, Edward Burne-Jones’ (1833-1898) The Council Chamber is paired with Passengers, a painting by the American artist Steven Assael (born 1957). Burne-Jones’ interpretation of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale is an escapist vision—a response to the overwhelming changes…

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Kids’ Corner gets a new look in 2016

December 4, 2015

We are excited to announce our plans to renovate Kids’ Corner in 2016! As a part of the Museum’s 2015-16 Key Initiatives plan, the Education Department is using funds from the Pollyanna Foundation to renovate and upgrade Kids’ Corner—the family-friendly education space located on the Museum’s lower level. This week we closed Kids’ Corner to begin some minor construction in the space. Over the spring and summer of 2015, we developed an interpretive plan for redesigning the interactive experiences in Kids’ Corner. The new vision aims to bridge art appreciation and art creation through new interpretive experiences focused on storytelling,…

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Storyteller-in-Residence Program Introduces Pre-K – Kindergarten Audiences to the Museum

July 24, 2015

In April 2015, the Museum presented a new tour program for regional Pre-K and Kindergarten audiences, Storyteller-in-Residence. Focusing on essential early learning skills and literacy, this free program provided students with a unique opportunity to engage with the Museum by including an interactive storytelling performance inspired by the Museum’s collection, an engaging tour of related works of art in the collection, and creative art-making experiences. Each week, professional storyteller Jeff Hopkins amused students with his one-of-a-kind story featuring a cast of characters from the Museum’s collection such as Crying Giant by Tom Otterness and Hans Brinker by Frank Schoonover. As…

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