Well the Missus and I trundled up to Andover the other day to catch the current exhibitions at the Addison Gallery of American Art and, say, they were uniformly swell.
Don’t let the “gallery” designation fool you – the Addison mounts impressive exhibits that can hold their own with almost any of the Boston-area museums.
Take, for starters, Harlem: In Situ, a sprawling exhibition that “explores the depth and complexity of this renowned neighborhood, highlighting the work of some of the most important visual artists working from the late 1920s through today.”
Its compelling photographic chronicle of Harlem’s streetscape includes 1920s–1950s (Harlem) by Lucien Aigner, Harlem Document (1935) by Aaron Siskind, Harlem Heroes (1930–1960) by Carl van Vechten, and The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1984) by Roy DeCarava.
Especially engaging are the 27 portraits from van Vechten’s portfolio of Harlem luminaries ranging from artist Jacob Lawrence
to activist W.E.B. Du Bois
to actor Paul Robeson.
(More on Harlem Heroes from a 2017 Smithsonian American Art Museum exhibit – with video of a lecture by noted collector Dr. Walter O. Evans – here.)
Harlem: In Situ also highlights the work of some of the neighborhood’s landmark artists, from Jacob Lawrence
to Romare Bearden
All in all, a fascinating trip through a legendary piece of New York real estate and New York history.
Also currently at the Addison is In and Out of Place.
Drawn from the Addison’s rich holdings of American art from the colonial era to the present, this exhibition endeavors to investigate the nuanced and varied physical and human characteristics that set place apart from mere location. Divided into three salient categories: nature, home, and city, the works on view demonstrate the ways in which our individual, subjective notions of place are fundamentally shaped by visual imagery.
The variety of works is totally captivating, as these two examples suggest.
The Goodman exhibit is a vivid walk down Boston’s Memory Lane.
Comprised of brilliant color photographs, the majority of which have never before been exhibited, John Goodman: not recent color examines the American cultural landscape through the coming of age of a young artist in the 1970s and 1980s.
Made from recently rediscovered Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides, these photographs transport viewers to another time with their richly saturated colors and cinematic views. Piercing yet tender images shot in diners, bowling alleys, and darkened theaters, outside phone booths and gas stations, and on city streets and sidewalks conjure moments in individual lives and social interactions that together tell a story about the slowly changing social fabric of Goodman’s studio neighborhood in Boston––and the country at large.
In 4 x 4, “four curators have explored a theme, style, or artistic idiom represented in depth across the many media in the collection. This selection of works examines the representation of women, the investigation of abstraction at its introduction and, later, at mid-century, and the use of technology.”
A couple of favorites:
All the exhibits are up through July 31. And all are well worth a trundle.