Dead Blogging ‘Harlem: In Situ’ at Andover’s Addison Gallery

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.

Representative sample:

Lucien Aigner, Harlem grocery stand, c. 1936

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

Jacob Lawrence, Kibitzers, 1948

to Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden, Jazz II Deluxe, 1980

and beyond.

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.

Winslow Homer, Kissing the Moon, 1904


Beaumont Newhall, Chase National Bank, New York, 1928


Those two exhibits occupy the Addison’s second floor. The ground floor features John Goodman: not recent color and 4 x 4, the latter of which is ending an almost year-long run.

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:

Elie Nadelman, Seated Woman, c. 1919-25


László Moholy-Nagy, Twisted Planes, 1946


All the exhibits are up through July 31. And all are well worth a trundle.

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2 Responses to Dead Blogging ‘Harlem: In Situ’ at Andover’s Addison Gallery

  1. Bill S. says:

    Must you still “trundle?” The definition (as a verb, with reference to a wheeled vehicle or its occupants), is “to move or cause to move slowly and heavily, typically in a noisy or uneven way”; (as a noun) “an act of moving slowly or heavily.”
    Really, is this the best that you and the Missus can do? I suspect not. So I’ll wager there must be another way of describing your transit, without either of us going (trundling?) to that new casino in Everett, of course.

    • Campaign Outsider says:

      It distresses me greatly, Bill, that my trundling upsets you so. In a better world I might ease your pain – but trundling is how the Missus and I roll. So we’ll all have to live with the heartache that engenders.

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