Dennis Hermanson is a retired illustrator and graphic designer active in the Hillsborough and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, arts community. He is presently on the Board of the Hillsborough Arts Council, a member of the Ackland Art Museum, and a friend of many fine photographers and artists.
Going to NYU, I lived for three years on East Seventh Street, overlooking the Fillmore East, the East Coast counterpart to the famed Fillmore West, so I sure didn’t feel the need to go to the middle of New York State to see a cow pasture with a music stage. But my blood-brother, Richard, insisted.
Richard was a model, designer, writer. He had worked for Electra Records and hung out with Janis Joplin. I was a cartoonist and illustrator with a group called Cloud Studio, which went on to do the National Lampoon when it began. So we were free, and went to Woodstock early Thursday to beat the crowd. Continue reading →
This essay by JJ Bauer (Visual Resources Curator and Lecturer, Art Department, UNC-Chapel Hill) includes selected information and images from her February 24th Art For Lunch talk at the Ackland.
Modernist Architecture and Hans Hofmann: Some Added Context
Before they worked with Hans Hofmann on mosaic murals for building projects in New York, there is evidence that architects William Lescaze and Kelly and Gruzen were already incorporating modernist abstract mosaics into their designs and rethinking the place of other forms of art in modern architecture in the 1950s.
A Known Precedent
Noted International Style modernist architect William Lescaze incorporated a 60 foot wide mural by Max Spivak on the long interior wall of the two-story lobby of the Calderone Theatre in Hempstead (Long Island), New York in 1948-1949, in his own words, “to bring life and interest to a very large wall located in a strategic area.” The mural was then reflected back at movie-goers from a mirror on the opposite wall as they arrived at the mezzanine level via escalator from the lobby. The architect was not unique in thinking Spivak’s non-objective mosaics were appropriate artworks to be incorporated into modernist architecture that otherwise eschewed anything that could be considered superficial or applied decoration. Writing about the nascent career of Spivak in the New York Times, critic Aline B. Louchheim states, “And it seems equally astonishing that modern architecture and mosaic decoration, deeply compatible by nature, should not by this time have had a long and prolific marriage. For modern architecture finds its beauty through expression of its structural design and through emphasis on the intrinsic handsomeness of its materials. And mosaics, becoming an integral part of the architectural elements, enhance them without obscuring their function.” She then goes on to speak about mosaics in terms comparable to those Clement Green
berg was also just beginning to apply to the New York School of painters that included Hans Hofmann, emphasizing mosaics’ use of color, variations in tone, irregular pieces, and, above all, flatness and formal patterning. Continue reading →
Megan Williams is an intern in the Ackland Art Museum’s Education and Curatorial departments and an MS Library Science / MA Art History candidate at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Artists often turn to their city for creative inspiration. Sometimes they represent exactly what they see down to each minute detail, other times, they produce a barely recognizable impression. Some of the prints in the exhibition America Seen are images of real things and places that still exist today. While researching these prints, I was eager to find the locations depicted. Like photographs, prints can be used as historical records, and they are capable of showing us a vision of an unknown or forgotten past.
Armin Landeck, American, 1905-1984: “York Avenue, Sunday Morning,” 1939; drypoint. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The Hunter and Cathy Allen Collection, 2013.21.26
This semester at the Ackland, I’ve been conducting research and writing interpretative text for the exhibition America Seen: The Hunter and Cathy Allen of Social Realist Prints. Through this process I’ve become very familiar with the prints in the show and wanted to share one as a first impression and in advance of the opening reception this evening.
Fritz Eichenberg, American, born in Germany, 1901–1990: Subway (Sleep), 1935; wood engraving. Ackland Art Museum, The Hunter and Cathy Allen Collection, 2013.21.13.
America Seen features 38 prints from the mid-1920s to the mid-1940s by American artists. The majority of the artists represented in the exhibition lived and worked in New York City. They were inspired by the scenes of everyday urban life they witnessed around them and the subway was a popular theme. One of my favorites prints, Subway (Sleep), falls into this category. Although the print depicts a rather unremarkable moment in the daily life of any New York City subway rider, I’m drawn into the composition through Eichenberg’s use of strong contrasts between light and dark, as well as his careful attention to realistic details inside the subway car, such as the straps, signage, and advertisements.
I can empathize with the occupants of this train car, from the weary, young couple at the far end to the child sleeping in her mother’s lap. I have also been on the subway, tired after a long day, and eager to get home. But where are these people going? What were they doing before? Perhaps the proud and poised woman in a stylish hat is headed to a party or to church. Is the man to her left her companion or a stranger? With a souvenir balloon as a clue, I suspect the collapsed child is returning home from a fun day at the park. While it is impossible to know for sure, the artist, Fritz Eichenberg, invites us to look and speculate about the lives of those pictured. Continue reading →