Eclipse of the Sun is a masterpiece of political art and one of the most significant paintings in a public collection on Long Island. As signaled by the dollar sign darkening the sun, a symbol of life, the artwork critiques the greed and violence of Germany’s military, politicians, and industrialists. The tilted perspective, dissonant color, and ambiguous sense of space underscore the instability of the period following World War I.
Grosz depicts mindless bureaucrats in a grim setting surrounding the decorated general Paul von Hindenburg, who was Field Marshall during World War I, served as second president of the Weimar Republic, and later named Adolf Hitler chancellor in 1933. An industrialist carrying weapons whispers in Hindenburg’s ear. A donkey representing the German people stands near a bloody sword and listens with big ears, yet wears blinders of ignorance. Confined and stepped on, the fearful face of a youth juxtaposed with a skeleton warns of the fate of future generations.
In the 1920s, Grosz was a leader of the politically outspoken Berlin Dada movement, which criticized authority through art. Considered a “degenerate” artist by the Nazis, he fled to the United States in 1933 in advance of World War II. Grosz lived and worked in Huntington, New York, from 1947 until shortly before his death in 1959.
Connie Fox: The Sammy’s Beach Series is the first comprehensive presentation of this body of work to take place on Long Island. The exhibition brings together a dozen abstract paintings and a group of related drawings in charcoal, ink, and acrylic on paper that Fox created in response to Sammy’s Beach in Northwest Harbor, East Hampton. Fox began visiting the tidal bay beach, located between Gardiner’s Bay and Three Mile Harbor, soon after moving to Long Island in the late 1970s. Over the next thirty years she frequented the beach to walk, sit, and swim. Created between 2007 and 2014, the series is a remarkable recent achievement by an artist whose work spans seven decades. Connie Fox: The Sammy’s Beach Series explores the relation of Fox’s abstractions to her experiences of the beach, and considers the shifting vocabulary of shapes, lines, colors, and textures that unites the varied series.
Connie Fox was born in Fowler, Colorado in 1925. In 1954, she graduated from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where she studied with painter Elaine de Kooning. She relocated to Long Island, where she continues to live and work, at the suggestion of De Kooning and artist Robert Dash. Fox’s work is included in many museum collections, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; the Brooklyn Museum, NY; and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA. She received an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2013.
Teeming scenes of festive revelers, clowns and performers, and his fellow artists are the signature subject matter of Wood Gaylor’s raucous paintings. In 1916, Gaylor (1883-1957) joined Walt Kuhn and other prominent modern artists in New York City to form The Penguin group. The irreverent association put on exhibitions, held weekly sketching sessions with nude models, and mounted fantastic Arts Balls, complete with costumes, comical skits, musicians, and papier-mâché props. Gaylor captured these spirited events in paintings featuring brightly-colored, flat, outlined figures in grand spaces.
Wood Gaylor and American Modernism includes two dozen artworks by Gaylor, including paintings from the Smith College Museum of Art, the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. These loans are interspersed with paintings, sculptures, and drawings from the Heckscher Museum’s collection by artists in Gaylor’s social and artistic circles.
Throughout the 1920s, Gaylor spent summers in Ogunquit, Maine, where he and other artists became some of the first collectors of American folk art. The flattening and distortion in early American painting provided affirmation for Gaylor’s faux-naïve style. The personal relationships Gaylor developed in Maine were among the most significant of his life, including his marriage to fellow artist Adelaide Lawson, whose work will also be on view.
Gaylor continued to organize and depict grand events of the New York art world throughout the 1920s and into the mid-1930s, when he and his family relocated to Glenwood Landing on Long Island. They held exhibitions and art classes in their barn and yard, as depicted in Painting Lesson on the Lawn (ca. 1952).
June 5, 2021
The Heckscher Museum of Art opened to the public 100 years ago. This expansive exhibition traces our history and points to our future by celebrating the people, events, and art that have indelibly shaped the Museum. Unfolding chronologically, the exhibition explores the development of the permanent collection from 185 paintings and sculptures in 1920, to 2,300 works in many media today. Each gallery focuses on a defining chapter in the Museum’s story: our founding in 1920 by civic leaders August and Anna Atkins Heckscher, the transformational tenure of Museum Director Eva Gatling, our pivotal role in preserving the legacies of American modernists Arthur Dove and Helen Torr, and the acquisition of hundreds of artworks from the Baker/Pisano Collection in 2001.
The exhibition weaves together masterworks, rarely exhibited objects, and archival material to illuminate the Museum’s history and to engage our audiences. Spanning the 16th century to the 21st, the checklist includes work by more than 75 artists including: Berenice Abbott, Romare Bearden, William Merritt Chase, Joseph Cornell, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Jean-Léon Gérôme, George Grosz, Marsden Hartley, Winslow Homer, Man Ray, Thomas Moran, Georgia O’Keeffe, Howardena Pindell, and Florine Stettheimer. Reporting on the new Museum in 1921, a newspaper noted that “people come and come again to this treasure house of theirs.” We invite you to do the same as we embark together on the next 100 years.