The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz, in partnership with the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, N.Y., is organizing the first retrospective and catalogue of renowned American painter Bradley Walker Tomlin (1899–1953) since 1975.
Organized by Daniel Belasco, the Dorsky’s curator of exhibitions and programs, Bradley Walker Tomlin will be on display at the Dorsky Museum from Aug. 31 through Dec. 11 in the museum’s Morgan Anderson Gallery. A public opening reception will be held Saturday, Sept. 10, from 5–7 p.m.
Tomlin is best known as a key figure in Abstract Expressionism and a longtime resident of the Woodstock art colony. The time is long overdue for a reappraisal of this brilliant painter who played an essential role in two generations of American art.
Bradley Walker Tomlin consists of more than 40 paintings, works on paper, photographs and printed materials, which chart Tomlin’s career arc from his magazine illustrations of the 1920s to the large-scale abstract paintings he produced in the 1950s. Exhibition highlights include original cover illustrations for House & Garden from the Condé Nast Archive, Art Deco-influenced still life paintings, Cubist/Surrealist paintings and major Abstract Expressionist canvases.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated, 138-page catalogue featuring an extensive critical essay by curator Daniel Belasco, and additional essays by Bard College art history professor Tom Wolf, Everson Museum of Art Executive Director Elizabeth Dunbar and Albright-Knox Art Gallery Chief Curator Emeritus Douglas Dreishpoon. A selection of primary source materials and writings by and about Tomlin, some published here for the first time, and a diary entry by novelist Robert Phelps, serve as a valuable addition to this extensive new document. The catalogue will be available in September 2016 on SUNY Press (www.sunypress.edu).
Lenders to the exhibition include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Condé Nast Archives, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Sarah Lawrence College, Archives of American Art and other important public and private collections.
Funding for Bradley Walker Tomlin is provided by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, the Malka Fund, the Everson Museum of Art, Friends of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art Special Exhibitions Fund and SUNY New Paltz.
Following its presentation at The Dorsky, the exhibition will travel to the Everson Museum, where it will open in February 2017.
All events take place at The Dorsky Museum unless otherwise noted.
Sunday, Sept. 11, 2 p.m.
Panel: “Bradley Walker Tomlin” with art historians Svetlana Alpers and Tom Wolf, exhibition curator Daniel Belasco, moderated by Janice La Motta, Executive Director the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum. Student Union Building room 62/63
Sunday, Oct. 2, Nov. 6, and Dec. 4, 2 p.m.
Free First Sunday Gallery Talks with guest educator Kevin Cook
Sunday, Nov. 13, 2 p.m.
Gallery talk with exhibition curator Daniel Belasco
Landscapes of the Early Years: The exhibition introduces Tomlin through his earliest work as an accomplished student at Syracuse University, where he won numerous university and civic prizes and commissions. His early work is that of an Impressionist-inspired landscape painter and portraitist, who showed watercolors in his first New York City solo exhibition in 1923.
Design and Illustrations: Tomlin understood that a career as an artist required balancing painting commissions with commercial assignments. From 1922 to 1929, he was among an elite group of artists patronized by Condé Nast for original cover art for magazines including Vogue and House & Garden. Tomlin also drew on a talent for whimsical art nouveau-inspired portrayals of fantasy in his illustrations of two children’s books.
The Decorative Impulse: The third section reveals the formal connections between Tomlin’s increasingly ambitious paintings and modernist interior decor. A stunning set of paintings from the early 1930s appeal to the eye with reflective aluminum leaf.
The Surrealist Turn: Tomlin spent most of the 1930s teaching at Sarah Lawrence College. By the end of the decade he regained attention for new paintings in a hybrid Surrealist/Cubist style. For the first time, politics became overt in his imagery and activities, as he joined the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors founded by Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb and others.
The Heroic Years: Now engaged with the generation of artists who would form the Abstract Expressionists, Tomlin reinvented himself as an avant-garde artist, quitting his teaching position and fully embracing alienation as a source of creative expression. In a major series of works from the late 1940s and early 1950s, Tomlin monumentalized a personal style of calligraphic painting with an underlying geometry and order. His career was cut short when he died of a heart attack in 1953.
ABOUT THE DORSKY MUSEUM
Through its collections, exhibitions and public programs, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz supports and enriches the academic programs at the College, presents a broad range of world art for study and enjoyment and serves as a center for Hudson Valley arts and culture. The museum is widely recognized as the premier public showplace for exhibition, education and cultural scholarship about the Hudson Valley region’s art and artists from yesterday and today. With more than 9,000 square feet of exhibition space distributed over six galleries, The Dorsky Museum is one of the largest museums in the SUNY system. Since its official dedication on Oct. 20, 2001, The Dorsky has presented more than 100 exhibitions, including commissions, collection-based projects and in-depth studies of contemporary artists including Robert Morris, Alice Neel, Judy Pfaff, Carolee Schneemann and Ushio Shinohara.
Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Mondays, Tuesdays, Holidays and Intersessions
For more information about The Dorsky Museum and its programs, visit http://www.newpaltz.edu/museum or call (845) 257-3844.