Lucas Cranach the Elder, Virgin, Child, St. John the Baptist and Angels, 1534
Asher B. Durand, Keene Valley, 1860s
Georgia O'Keeffe, Machu Picchu (Peruvian Landscape),1956
George Grosz, Eclipse of the Sun, 1926
Man Ray, La Ville (The City), 1931
The Heckscher Museum of Art’s collection spans 500 years of Western art with particular emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Established in 1920 with a gift from August Heckscher of 185 works, the collection now numbers more than 2500 pieces by American and European artists. American landscape painting and work by Long Island artists, past and present, are particular strengths, as is American and European modernism. Photography is a growing part of the collection.
The earliest major work in the collection is Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Virgin, Child, St. John the Baptist and Angels, 1534 (shown in sidebar), which was painted in the artist’s native Germany. Other old master works include seventeenth-century Dutch and Italian paintings and English portraiture, including works by Beechey, D'Hondecoeter, Girardon, Largillierre, Raeburn, Verbeeck, and Verstraelen. Nineteenth-century European holdings include works by Eugène Louis Boudin, Gustave Courbet, and Jean Léon Gérôme.
Nineteenth century American landscape painting in The Heckscher collection includes Frederic Church’s Autumn, 1845, Asher B. Durand’s Keene Valley, 1860s (shown in sidebar), George Inness’s, The Pasture, Durham, Connecticut, c. 1879, and Albert Bierstadt’s, Autumn Landscape, undated, as well as works by Ralph Albert Blakelock, Alfred Thompson Bricher, and Samuel Colman. The Moran family of landscape painters, many of whom lived on Long Island, is well-represented with works by Thomas Moran, Edward Moran, E. Percy Moran, Leon John Moran, Mary Nimmo Moran, and Peter Moran. Thomas Moran’s Bluebeard’s Castle, 1915, is a visitor favorite. The museum also owns a rare Winslow Homer tile painting, The Resting Shepherdess, 1878, and Thomas Eakins’s, sketch for The Cello Player, 1896.
American modernism is the focus of the Baker-Pisano Collection, which includes Georgia O’Keeffe’s watercolor Machu Picchu (Peruvian Landscape), 1956 (shown in sidebar), as well as works by Oscar Bluemner, Charles Burchfield, Arthur B. Carles, Charles Demuth, Guy Pène du Bois, Rockwell Kent, Paul Manship, John Marin, Charles Sheeler, Joseph Stella, and Max Weber.
The Museum has significant holdings in the work of three important Huntington artists: the American modernists Arthur Dove and his wife Helen Torr, and the Berlin Dadaist George Grosz. Except for five years spent in Dove's hometown of Geneva, N.Y., Dove and Torr lived in Huntington from 1924 until their respective deaths: Dove in 1946 and Torr in 1967. Prime examples of their work here include Dove’s watercolor Boat, 1932, his oil painting Indian Summer, 1941, and Helen Torr’s oil Oyster Stakes, 1929. George Grosz lived in Huntington from 1947 to 1959, the year he died. His influence was significant in the full-time reopening of The Heckscher Museum after World War II; and he taught art at the Museum through the Huntington Township Art League. The Museum’s Grosz holdings comprise fifteen paintings and works on paper, including his large masterpiece Eclipse of the Sun, 1926 (shown in sidebar), an allegory about greed, power, and corruption in Germany’s military-industrial complex of the 1920s. Many consider this painting to be one of the most important art works of the twentieth-century.
Abstract art by the Russian-born Ilya Bolotowsky and his wife Esphyr Slobodkina, who were founding members of the American Abstract Artists group, is another strength in the collection. Bolotowsky is represented by more than 100 paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints and Slobodkina by sixty-five paintings, watercolors, collages, and drawings, including Monochrome in Yellow, c. 1953. Other important twentieth century holdings include works by Josef Albers, Richard Anuszkiewicz, Salvador Dali, Stuart Davis, Elaine de Kooning, Red Grooms, Marsden Hartley, Fernand Léger, Seymour Lipton, Henry Moore, Jules Olitski, Fairfield Porter, and Jane Wilson.
In photography, the Museum has extensive holdings of the work of Berenice Abbott, Larry Fink, and Eadweard Muybridge. The collection recently received an important gift of Man Ray’s Electricité portfolio of 1931, consisting of ten rayographs commissioned by a Parisian electric company, the Compagnie Parisienne de Distribution d'Electricité (CPDE), to promote the domestic uses of electricity.
The most significant contemporary work recently acquired by the Museum is Your House, 2006 by the Scandinavian artist Olafur Eliasson. This specially designed book of laser-cut sheets presents a progression of views of the interior of a house as one leafs through the pages.