"My colleagues and I are delighted to participate in the American Art conference presented annually by Initiatives in Art and Culture. Each year, it fosters an engaging and informative dialogue which supports a better and broader understanding of American artists and our nation’s cultural history. The conference creates a rich environment for debate on American art, which is instrumental in broadening and understanding and appreciation of the field, says Andrew Schoelkopf, Co-founder and Partner, Menconi + Schoelkopf, and President of the Arts Dealers Association of America. He continues, “As the environment and market have evolved dramatically over the past two decades, we find more important than ever the need for and benefit accrued from the conference’s creation of an interactive forum for leading scholars, curators, dealers, collectors, and others to share new ways of thinking about and viewing American art.”
On Thursday, the American Art Conference begins with an evening reception attended by all participants, and a private viewing of the exhibition, “Thomas Hart Benton: Mechanics of Form” at Menconi + Schoelkopf, located at 22 E 80th Street. On Friday and Saturday, formal sessions take place at Bonhams, 580 Madison Ave, with book sales and book signings, as well as informal opportunities to view the American Paintings and Sculpture Exhibition, which opens concurrently.
A group of talks will highlight several American artists. On May 17th, Paul Staiti, Alumnae Foundation Professor of Fine Arts at Mount Holyoke, explores the truth, legend, and art behind John Vanderlyn’s Jane McCrea, immediately followed by Ethan W. Lasser, Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. Curator of American Art, Harvard Art Museum, discussing Winslow Homer and his emphasis on “documenting” in watercolor, oil and engraving. Amanda C. Burdan, Curator, Brandywine River Museum of Art (BRMA), entertains the complexities and contradictions in America’s impressionism, and in Childe Hassam’s art more specifically.
On Saturday Heather Campbell Coyle, Chief Curator and Curator of American art, Delaware Art Museum, will discuss John Sloan’s off-center celebrities, and Ariel Plotek, Curator of Fine Art, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, will discuss Georgia O’Keeffe’s tour de force Ritz Tower. Angela Miller, Professor of Art History, Washington University, St. Louis and Marin R. Sullivan, Director, Harry Bertoia Catalogue Raisonné respectively offer timely considerations of artists whose work is receiving increased attention: the paintings and photographs of Paul Cadmus and his network will be covered by Miller, with Sullivan closing the conference on the topic of Harry Bertoia’s midcentury modernism.
Throughout the two days, the relationship between the history of American art and the network of taste constituted by the interplay of museum, dealer and collector is emphasized, as is the display of works. Farris Wahbeh, Benjamin and Irma Weiss Director of Research Resources, Whitney Museum of American Art, considers the formation of what might be termed the formal discipline of American art in “Molding Scholarship: the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Cultivation of American Modern Art History.” Rebecca Shaykin, Associate Curator, Jewish Museum, New York, addresses the role of the dealer in “Edith Halpert and the Rise of American Art,” while Jan and Marica Vilcek, co-founders, CEO and, Vice-Chairman respectively of the Vilcek Foundation discuss “Collecting Modernism,” in conversation with Andrew Schoelkopf. Schoelkopf says, “This year, I am particularly pleased that we will have the opportunity to celebrate the contributions to the field made by collectors Marica and Jan Vilcek. We will discuss the physical opening of the new headquarters of their foundation in New York, which is transitioning their private collection to a locus of information, publications, and viewing for the enjoyment of American art. The Vilceks have been passionate and learned collectors of American art for more than 25 years, and through their foundation, they are helping the field to rethink scholarship, the canon of American art, and the significant role played by immigrants who influenced and advanced America’s cultural and artistic history.”