Monday, July 23, 2012

On the Road: Crocker Museum of Art, Sacramento (July 20, 2012)

A couple days ago I got back from a short trip to the north--as far north as the Mt. Lassen area. On my way home to Santa Rosa I made an unplanned stop at the Crocker Art Museum, in Sacramento. I've rarely been in Sacramento before--I usually drive around it on the way to skiing at Lake Tahoe--so I've hardly done anything in the city. This, my first visit, was a short one, but I rather enjoyed myself. The museum was the highlight.

The Crocker collection is quite varied, including everything from antiquities to modern painting and photography, but perhaps strongest in arts of Oceania, in contemporary ceramics, and in California painters. There were quite a few good California landscapes on display, although I especially liked a landscape in Scotland entitled "On the River Minnock, Kirkcudbrightshire," by James Faed (1857-1920), a Scotsman (pictured above--the painting, that is, not the Scotsman). He's nicely captured the peaty brown water and the mist, although these may be hard to see in my photo here.

There were several good landscapes in the Impressionist style by Guy Rose (1867-1925), a painter I've never been aware of before. Apparently Rose was born in Southern California, the son of a California senator, but he spent more than 20 years in France (1890 to 1912), living near Monet's home at Giverney, having earlier studied at the California School of Design, in San Francisco, and at the Académie Julian in Paris. He is best known for the impressionist landscapes he did along the California coast after his return to the United States, including the one of the Monterey coast pictured above.

A number of interesting portraits caught my eye. I liked an 1889 portrait of Mary Blanche Hubbard by  Mary Curtis Robinson (1848-1931) who, like Rose, studied at the California School of Design, in San Francisco, and also at the Art Students League, in New York. The limited palette and the choice of a white dress against a white background immediately suggest Whistler. I liked the way the cloth of the dress is handled and the line of the arm and hand.

Another portrait I liked, "White Dress (White Nightie)" by Otis Oldfield (1890-1969) was similar in that it depicts a woman in a white dress (actually a white nightgown), but in a more modern style. I suppose this is actually quite derivative. The pose with the slightly tilted head and the closed eyes, the palette (with its use of rusty tones), and the small african carving in the corner all suggest the influence of Modigliani; and there is something Picasso-esque in the modeling, but I liked it nevertheless. According to the tag, Oldfield was criticized for painting the model (his wife) in a nightgown, so he changed the name of the painting to "White Dress" to defuse controversy at exhibitions. How times change.

Among the more modern works in the collection there were some good paintings by Richard Diebenkorn and many by unfamiliar artists--too many to catalogue here. I enjoyed seeing a good example of one of the map-like San Francisco cityscapes Wayne Thiebaud (1920-    ) made in the 1980s. I like the odd perspective that gives the impression of looking straight down on the subject while seeing it from another angle at the same time, the odd angles of the streets and buildings and of the long shadows. This one is called "Street and Shadow."

The main special exhibition was a retrospective of work by pop artist Mel Ramos, a Sacramento native. Details here.

[Update: Also see this post about the Art-o-mat® in the lobby of the Crocker Museum.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails