Editor's note: The following essay was rekeyed and reprinted on November 20, 2002 in Resource Library Magazine with permission of Amon Carter Museum. The essay, written in August, 2002, was previously included in an illustrated catalogue for the exhibition Celebrating America: Masterworks from Texas Collections, (ISBN #0-88360-096-X) held September 14, 2002 through November 17, 2002 at Amon Carter Museum. Images accompanying the text in the exhibition catalogue were not reproduced with this reprinting. If you have questions or comments regarding the essay, or if you have interest in obtaining a copy of the exhibition catalogue, please contact Amon Carter Museum through either this phone number or web address:
Introduction Essay from the Catalogue "Celebrating America: Masterworks from Texas Collections"
by Jane Myers and Barbara McCandless
In the early 1770s John Singleton Copley painted the portraits of two distinguished citizens, Jabez and Sarah Bowen (pp. 26--29), who maintained influential social, political, and educational ties to their native Rhode Island. Their portraits remained together for over 200 years, including a period of extended loan to the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. In the early 1980s the two paintings were sold separately through Kennedy Galleries of New York, making their way to Texas, where they now reside in private collections 600 miles apart. Little could the Bowens have imagined, while sitting for the renowned Boston portraitist, that their countenances would someday come to rest in a region that during their lifetimes was a Spanish colony in which the Native American and Hispanic populations maintained an uneasy balance with each other. The westward journey of these two paintings marks a well-worn path for numerous artworks located in the outstanding collections that have been assembled in Texas since the turn of the twentieth century, when the citizens who populated the state's burgeoning communities began a series of earnest campaigns to bring art to the prairies.
The nature of this catalogue and exhibition of fifty-nine paintings, sculptures, watercolors, and photographs is informed by the Amon Carter Museum's own collecting philosophy. The museum was founded in 1961 to house Amon G. Carter Sr.'s (figure 1) collection of 400 works by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. Since that time, the museum has greatly broadened its collecting perspective, seeking out the finest examples of American art and in the process building a collection of masterworks -- each with its own emotional, aesthetic, and intellectual associations -- that emphasizes key moments in American art and culture. Today, the Carter's collection includes approximately 200 paintings, 170 sculptures, 600 drawings and watercolors, 3,500 prints, and 230,000 photographic objects. The museum's photography holdings grew rapidly throughout the 1970s and 1980s, with acquisitions of both historical collections and individual masterpieces. Considered one of the finest collections of American photography anywhere, the holdings include more than 30,000 exhibition-quality prints and the archives of several major photographers, among them Laura Gilpin, Eliot Porter, and Karl Struss.
Celebrating America: Masterworks from Texas Collections commemorates the inaugural year of the museum's expanded facilities. Designed by architect Philip Johnson, the new addition -- in conjunction with the original 1961 building -- increased the gallery space in which to showcase the museum's collections and special exhibitions of American art to nearly 30,000 square feet (fig. 2). This exhibition and catalogue also celebrate the achievements of those institutional, private, and corporate collectors in Texas whose holdings reflect the essential nature of this country's unique character. Although the works assembled here are a small representation of the profusion of American art located throughout the state, they manifest a century-long desire to collect and share through public display the finest examples of American creative expression.
Celebrating America spans nearly 200 years of American art history, beginning with John Singleton Copley's portraits of Jabcz and Sarah Bowen (ca, 1771-74) and closing with Garry Winogrand's 1969 photograph Los Angeles, California (pp. 140-141. In addition to revealing the remarkable collecting acumen of those Texas collectors, both historic and more recently established, who have enriched the state's cultural heritage, the works in this exhibition both complement and augment the Carter's own holdings. While the colonial paintings by Copley offer an earlier perspective on American portraiture than the Carter has traditionally represented, twentieth-century works by Arshile Gorky (pp. 122-123), Wayne Thiebaud (pp. 136-137), and Winogrand point to abstract and realist strains strongly represented in the Carter's collection by such works as Stuart Davis' overpowering abstraction, Blips and Ifs (fig. 3), and recent photographs like Terry Falke's Mitchell Butte, Arizona/Utah Border (fig. 4).
In the forty years since the Carter's opening, the collecting of American art has benefited from unprecedented growth in scholarship, in which connoisseurship has continued to play an indispensable role. At the same time, there has been an attendant rise in prices for American art. Photography in particular has seen an extraordinary market increase in the past five years, with early daguerreotypes and twentieth-century masterworks now commanding prices that approach those of major paintings. Despite widespread interest and intellectual scrutiny, however, many masterworks of American art still require thoughtful examination. Fitz Hugh Lane's maritime masterpiece Sunset at Gloucester Harbor (pp. 36-37), Raymond Jonson's Abstract Two (pp. 94-95), and George L. K. Morris' dynamic Crescendo (pp. 112-113), for example, demand more attention.
One special opportunity afforded by this exhibition involves the comparison of loaned objects with works from the Carter's own holdings. As an example, two paintings by Marsden Hartley, the Carter's American Indian Symbols (fig. 5) and the McNay Art Museum's Portrait Arrangement (pp. 74-75), were both executed in 1914, a pivotal and productive year for the artist, who was then living in Berlin. The Fort Worth picture embodies Hartley's American identity, expressed through references to Native Americans whose cultural heritage could be seen in Berlin's extensive ethnographic collections. With the advent of World War I, however, Hartley's work shifted to imagery prevalent in such works as the equally metaphorical Portrait Arrangement, a tribute to the death of a German soldier. In another instance, a fascinating association exists between two nineteenth-century genre pictures by Thomas Hovenden (fig. 6) and Helen Corson (pp. 48-49) -- the former in the Carter's collection, the latter owned by Wells Fargo. Such a comparison provides scintillating insight into this husband and wife's sympathetic working environment in their Pennsylvania studio, where, with restrained sensitivity, they explored the African-American way of life during the post-Civil War period.
Following the turn of the twentieth century, as communities in Texas grew, a sense of civic pride and yearning for cultural, spiritual, and intellectual fulfillment led to a desire for exposure to the visual arts. This led the way to the formation of today's major urban art museums in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, El Paso, and San Antonio. The cities of Dallas, in 1900, and Fort Worth, in 1901, opened Carnegie Public Libraries that housed special exhibition galleries for the display of original artwork. Support organizations for these activities were established with the formation of the Dallas Art Association in 1903 and the Fort Worth Art Association in 1910. Other cities were quick to follow; the core organizations for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the El Paso Museum of Art, and the San Antonio Art Museum were all founded by 1912, and each of these institutions has loaned works to this exhibition.
Typically, these groups were headed by zealous women who, as others across the country did during the Progressive Era, campaigned to bring visual art to their communities through acquisition and exhibition. The culturally minded women of Texas diligently sought to rectify what they perceived to be the absence of fine art in their state. A member of the El Paso Woman's Club, seeking the loan of a work in 1912, stated: "We have never had a great picture here and I am sure there are many who never saw one. . . ." Despite a universal lack of funds, the scarcity of appropriate venues for showing art, and slow acceptance by the general public, each of these Texas organizations possessed grand aspirations and refused to be deterred. In 1904 Dallas and Fort Worth each acquired their first paintings: in Dallas, Childe Hassam's September Morning (1900); in Fort Worth, by public subscription, George Inness' 1875 masterpiece The Approaching Storm (pp. 42-43).
In 1909 Fort Worth set a decisive example for the rest of the state when the art community's enterprising mastermind, Jennie Scott Scheuber (1860--1944), persuaded the newly formed American Federation of Arts (AFA) -- a national organization established by an act of Congress that year for the purpose of encouraging an appreciation of the arts around the country -- to send their first traveling exhibition to Fort Worth. The exhibition, which included works by contemporary American artists Childe Hassam, Irving Couse, and Robert Henri, traveled to a part of the country that in the minds of some fell into the category of the "hinterlands, as expressed by Secretary of State Elihu Root in his opening address at AFAs founding. The first of many national tours organized by the AFA, this exhibition initiated nearly thirty years of AFA tours in Texas, with Scheuber arranging the statewide circuit on their behalf and encouraging other cities to participate, including San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Waco, and Galveston. Loans from such prestigious institutions as the Detroit Art Museum (now the Detroit Institute of Arts), the National Arts Club in New York City, and the Albright Gallery in Buffalo (now the Albright-Knox Art Gallery) exposed Texas audiences to many fine masterworks. Paintings from commercial galleries were also included, offering the tantalizing possibility of purchasing works, a practice fully endorsed by the AFA. This in turn led to significant acquisitions by the fledgling art institutions, an activity that caused one writer for Washington, D.C.'s Evening Star to assert in 1913 that "There is more vital interest shown in art and proportionately more pictures bought in Texas today than in many of the eastern states."
These tours fostered a positive reception for the arts, which then led to prescient acquisitions of long-term benefit. For example, in 1925 the Friends of Art, a supporting group attached to the Fort Worth Art Association, acquired Thomas Eakins' masterpiece Swimming, now owned by the Amon Carter Museum (fig. 7). Clarence Cranmer (1874?-after 1952), a Philadelphia sportswriter who had been a friend of Eakins and to whom Mrs. Eakins had turned in the early twenties for help in selling her husband's work, brokered the sale. He later recalled this transaction, his first on Mrs. Eakins' behalf, as the "turning point" for the distribution of Eakins' art, which had generally fallen from favor in the wake of the artist's death. Within a few years of Swimming's sale, Cranmer had successfully placed Eakins' work both with leading private collectors of the day and major art repositories, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Detroit Institute of Arts.
In addition to fostering acquisitions, these early traveling exhibitions exposed Texans to new art styles and eventually led to more aggressive collection development in different areas of the state. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, began presenting annual exhibitions of Texas photographers in 1926, and in 1930 it introduced the modernist photographs of Edward Weston to the region. In the 1940s, traveling exhibitions of contemporary figure painting and nonobjective art from the Guggenheim Foundation exposed Texas viewers to the much-disputed aspects of unconventional artistic experimentation. The works made a significant and lasting impression, evident most recently in the construction of the new Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, designed by Tadao Ando and scheduled to open in late 2002 with 53,000 square feet of gallery space. This institution, the oldest museum in the state, was founded as the Fort Worth Public Library and Art Gallery in 1892.
Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Museum, which opened in 1972, also benefited greatly from the legacy of these early traveling exhibitions. Velma Fuller Kimbell (1887-1982), influenced in part by the works she had seen in these tours, began collecting British portraits in 1935. The collecting tradition established by Kimbell and her husband, Kay (1886-1964), continues today through the world-renowned museum itself, whose painting by Benjamin West, The Death of the Earl of Chatham (pp. 30-31). is a superlative example of the influence exerted on early American artists by English painting traditions.
Specialized collections in Texas, evolving from this instilled atmosphere for the appreciation for the fine arts, naturally reflected a preference for the art of the American West. A number of such collections were assembled by entrepreneurs who were born in the nineteenth century and made their fortunes in the twentieth. Five men in particular assembled western collections of such depth and caliber that they now form the nuclei of major public institutions. These pioneering collectors were Amon G. Carter Sr. (1879-1955), William C. Hogg (1875--1930), Sid W. Richardson (1891--1959), C. R. Smith (1899-1990), and H. J. Lutcher Stark (1887-1965). With the exception of Stark, whose broad-based collection developed into the Stark Museum of Art in Orange, Texas, these collectors focused their acquisitive energies, to varying degrees, on works by Charles M. Russell (fig. 8) and Frederic Remington (fig. 9), the two greatest artists of the American West. Carter's collection now resides in the Amon Carter Museum; Hogg's collection is housed in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Richardson's collection is now the Sid Richardson Collection of Western Art, Fort Worth; and Smith's collection is in the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art in Austin. These men sought to surround themselves with imagery that depicted the world of their pioneer predecessors, stalwart individualists who had similarly availed themselves of the region's endless possibilities and formidable challenges. The art of Remington and Russell, with its evocations of raw courage, frontier humor, and hard-won triumphs, reinforced the lifestyles and aspirations of these collectors, who were among the most influential leaders of their time.
Beyond their appreciation for fine art, these five collectors were dedicated philanthropists. Their generosity emanated from their gratitude to Texas, which they expressed through a desire to give back to the communities that had nurtured their careers. As Carter wrote in his last will and testament, "[The] pioneer spirit that peopled the wide spaces and laid the foundations of a happy future comes down to me in the strain of the blood, and I wish to share it with others who would make Texas their home and their inspiration." Such a legacy underscores these remarkable collections of traditional western art and illuminates an area that recently has only begun to receive scholarly attention. Beyond the arena of western art, a number of other individual Texas collectors amassed collections of such consummate quality and depth that they boasted some of the finest works produced during the twentieth century. As a young woman, Ohio native Marion Koogler McNay (1883-1950) saw two of this country's formative modernist exhibitions: the Armory Show at its Chicago venue in 1913, and the Forum Exhibition in New York City in 1916. In 1925 she moved to San Antonio, bringing with her a discerning appreciation for modern art. Four years later she completed the house where the Marion Koogler McNay Museum is located today. In addition to works by European masters Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Pablo Picasso, McNay also acquired works by American artists, This example is followed today by the museum she established, which opened to the public in 1954 and now houses more than 14,000 objects.
Bill Bomar (1919--1991), a native of Fort Worth and himself an artist, began collecting in 1936. He was greatly influenced by the early traveling exhibitions on display at the Carnegie Public Library in Fort Worth. Eventually dividing his time between New York City and Fort Worth, he became an important conduit in an active and ongoing dialogue between the art scenes in those two cities. Bomar owned examples of American modernism, satisfying a particular affinity for works that display an abstracted figurative style, such as Charles Demuth's Sailors and Girl (pp. 80-81). Bomar helped further the efforts of a discerning group of collectors and artists in the community who shared his penchant for a modernist sensibility. His collection joined that of his cousin, Reilly Nail, when the Old Jail Art Center in the small town of Albany, Texas, opened in 1980. Twenty-two years later, the collection there houses 1,500 objects and includes works by such luminaries of American art as Thomas Hart Benton, John Marin, and Grant Wood.
Dominique (1908-1997) and John de Menil (1904-1973) began to collect actively after settling in Houston in 1941, the year World War II drove them from their native France. Their wide-ranging cultural interests resulted in one of the most important privately assembled collections of art in the twentieth century. This collection of more than 15,000 objects was made available to the public in 1987, when the renowned Menil Collection opened in Houston. Works from antiquity, world tribal cultures, and twentieth-century European and American modernism are represented in the museum's holdings, as well as masterworks of American photography such as Walker Evans' now classic image, Floyd Burroughs' Bedroom (p. 110-111).
Dallas collector Raymond D. Nasher and his late wife, Patsy (1928-1988), brought their premier collection of twentieth-century sculpture to a broad audience as early as 1965, when Nasher developed a shopping center and office complex in Dallas as a showcase for major works from their holdings. Considered the world's most important private collection of modern sculpture, the Nasher Collection ranges from the innovative work of Paul Gauguin and Auguste Rodin at the end of the nineteenth century to works by Alexander Calder, David Smith (pp. I24-125), Claus Oldenberg, and Jonathan Borofsky. Nasher will soon realize a culmination of his ongoing desire to make sculpture a rich experience for the public with the creation of the Nasher Sculpture Center, which is scheduled to open in Dallas in 2003.
Apart from these large and diverse collections, a broad range of masterworks are held privately in Texas as either singular examples of American art or as part of a focused interest. The anonymous lender of Georgia O'Keeffe's Open Clam Shell and Closed Clam Shell (pp. 88-89) came to know the artist personally and purchased these works from her in 1967. Similarly, Adelaide Fuller (1915--1985), supported by her husband, William (1914-1992), developed an appreciation for the work of Maurice Prendergast, whose work she collected in depth after building a new home in Fort Worth in 1952. The Fullers met and befriended Eugenie Prendergast (1894-1994), the artist's sister-in-law, who shared with them her intimate knowledge of the artist's work and from whom the Fullers acquired the adroitly painted watercolor, Along the Shore -- St. MaIo (pp. 62-63)
It was a sense of personal heritage that influenced the collecting direction of Dr. and Mrs. Harmon Kelley. While visiting a traveling exhibition at the San Antonio Museum of Art in 1986, they discovered the rich scope of African-American art. This had a profound and life-changing impact on them, leading them to establish the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Foundation for the Arts, whose holdings now number over 150 works and include Edmonia Lewis' lovely sculpture Bust of a Woman (pp. 38-39). The foundation seeks to redress the absence of African-American art in mainstream institutions and publications by avidly collecting works that convey the spiritual vitality, fortitude, and artistic achievements of African-Americans in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
In addition to Texas' extensive record of collecting efforts by individuals, the state's corporate forbears long ago recognized the benefits of commissioning and using artworks to publicize their services. The Great Northern Railway Company's campaign to lure visitors to their lodges in Glacier National Park led to the patronage of artists like Winold Reiss (pp. 108-109), whose imagery proved indispensable to their promotional campaign. Rail giant Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the present-day descendant of Great Northern and now headquartered in Fort Worth, is the steward of a large number of Reiss' beautiful pastels depicting various members of the Blackfoot tribe.
The California Gold Rush led to the establishment of freighting and banking companies like Wells Fargo & Co., which in 1852 began providing dependable financial services as well as reliable transportation of money, information, and goods across the frontier. Today, their corporate collection in Houston comprises an excellent survey of American art and history. Their support of the arts is further evidenced by their generous underwriting of this exhibition.
Corporate collecting expanded in the late twentieth century, encouraged by initiatives such as the nonprofit Business Committee for the Arts (BCA), which was founded in 1967 by David Rockefeller to bring business and the arts together by supporting corporate arts programs. Through BCA initiatives, SBC Communications in San Antonio began collecting in 1985, extending its mission beyond telecommunication to explore art as visual communication. It chose to acquire twentieth-century American art to reflect the changing cultural environment during which the company evolved and thrived. Through its diverse holdings of American art by such masters as Alfred Stieglitz (pp. 68, 70-71), the company endeavors to enrich the lives of both its corporate family and the communities it serves.
Other catalysts began to result in the formation of significant collections in Texas, and scholarship was not the least among them. In 1957, Galveston native Harry Huntt Ransom (1908-1976), University of Texas at Austin's vice president and provost from 1957 to 1961, established the Humanities Research Center at that university. Later renamed the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the center began with the combination of several large rare book and manuscript holdings. Although primarily a collection of works by nineteenth- and twentieth-century American, British, and French writers, the center's mission rapidly expanded to encompass a broader humanities focus. In 1963 the center acquired the collection of Helmut (1913-1995) and Alison Gernsheim (1911-1969), then the largest private collection of historical photography in the world. The Ransom Center was initially interested in the collection as a supplement to its holdings of Victorian manuscripts, primarily because it included a large group of photographs by English photographers like Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll. The Gernsheims' interests were broad enough, however, that the collection also included works by major American photographers like Carleton E. Watkins, Edward Weston, and Paul Strand (pp. 40-41, 98-99, and 104-105 respectively). The collection's importance eventually led the Ransom Center to create a separate department for photography, and the growing appreciation for the medium encouraged its continued expansion. Today, the collection contains approximately five million objects.
The stature of the Ransom Center's holdings so impressed Mari Mchener (1920--1994), the wife of writer James A. Michener (1907-1997), that it became a deciding factor in the couple's subsequent donation of their large collection of American paintings to the University of Texas' Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery (now the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art). Originally collectors of Japanese prints, the Micheners changed their focus and eventually amassed hundreds of examples of American regionalist and contemporary art. James, who was fascinated by the parallels between the creative processes of writing and painting, felt a personal kinship with works that evoked his memories of the Great Depression, which he found aptly reflected in the figurative works of Thomas Hart Benton (pp. 102-103). Although regionalist art was out of fashion when he purchased the paintings, Michener believed the work of Benton and others embodied core American ideals: "It would be difficult for me to describe the impact these men had on me when I was young and grappling with the depression; they gave meaning to what I was experiencing...."
In a similar way, the recently founded Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern and Mexican Photography, located in the Alkek Library of Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, grew out of a private collection built on scholarship. Screenwriter, photographer, and publisher Bill Wittliff -- the founding donor -- assembled the collection through his own interest in the photographic culture of the region. This resulted in the creation of the gallery and, because of Wittliff's desire to encourage research, an ongoing series of publications. To further promote such scholarly research, whenever the gallery acquires a photographer's work it also seeks to acquire a large number of images in order to represent the artist's lifework. As an example, the Russell Lee Collection of 366 photographs, which includes the photographer's image of tenant farmers Mr. and Mrs. John Landers (pp. 114-115), came to the gallery through donation by both Wittliff and Lee's widow, Jean.
Considering the attention that is currently given to photography auctions, print fairs, and festivals, it is perhaps surprising to realize that the collecting of photographs in general has developed only over the past thirty years (fig. 10). At the national level, this activity grew during the 1970s in tandem with the rise in popularity of the medium. Photography magazines and monographic publications were established to feed a new public appetite. Universities added photography courses to their programs, and photographers throughout the country began to teach workshops to eager audiences. In Texas, groups of photographers organized "artist spaces," such as the Allen Street Gallery in Dallas in 1975 and the Houston Center for Photography in 1981. Regional camera clubs and associations, like the Texas Photographic Society, were established to serve the need for a sense of community among the growing ranks of photography enthusiasts.
The presence of major photographers teaching at Texas universities served to fuel this growing interest in photography throughout the state. After working for the Farm Security Administration documenting the Great Depression and for the Standard Oil documentary project during World War II, photographer Russell Lee settled in Austin. Lee established the photography program at the University of Texas in 1965, teaching there until his retirement in 1973. He remained an important catalyst to the growth of photography by continuing to serve as a mentor to many young artists in the community until his death in 1986. The photographer Garry Winogrand succeeded Lee at the University of Texas at Austin (1973-78) His photographs of contemporary American life redefined "street photography," or the practice of taking candid photographs of everyday life in the street (pp. 140-141) Like Lee, Winogrand greatly influenced numerous photography students, who then went out to document contemporary society. By instilling in their students a love of the medium, both Lee and Winogrand left a photographic legacy that resonates in Texas today. Though many of these students did not become photographers in their own right, they had learned to appreciate the power of the photographic image so much that they ardently began to collect.
The Texas African American Photography Archive in Dallas, like a number of other institutions in the state, developed its collecting strategy and mission out of a keen perception that some facets of American art were being neglected. Alan Govenar, co-director of the archive, was researching Texas blues for a project commissioned by the Dallas Museum of Art when he realized that the public institutions in the state did not have the kind of photographic documentation he sought. Through further investigation he discovered that while African-American photographers had documented their communities, these bodies of work were scattered and in danger of being lost. He subsequently organized the archive to provide a broad overview of Texas through the eyes of African-American photographers, acquiring most of the collection through donations from the artists and their families. Beyond this, Govenar began acquiring singular works by major African-American photographers in order to provide a national context for the state's photographers. The archives today are home to more than 30,000 photographic negatives and prints, dating from the 1970s to the present, and include J. P. Ball's early daguerreotype [David and Mary Wardell with daughter Amelia] (pp. 32-33)·
Ansel Adams, arguably the most well-known photographer of the twentieth century, fed the public's appetite for photography by conducting regular workshops. He taught annual workshops in the Yosemite National Park from 1955 to 1981. He also was instrumental in organizing the Friends of Photography in Carmel in 1967, which became the largest nonprofit photography organization in the world, offering regular workshops to enthusiasts. While several Texas photography collectors met Adams through his workshops and acquired individual works by him in remembrance of those occasions, he figured even more prominently in one collector's acquisition, which grew out of a business relationship. As Adams' ophthalmologist during the 1970s, Joseph W Gray, the lender of Aspens, Northern New Mexico (pp. 130-131), acquired each of the photographer's portfolios directly from him.
Many photography collectors in Texas acknowledge that they learned the history of the medium -- and focused their own collecting interests -- through regular visits to local galleries. The Afterimage Gallery in Dallas was among the first galleries to specialize in photography; founded in 1971, it is the oldest continually operating photography gallery in the nation. In the last ten years, numerous galleries devoted to fine art photography have sprung up in the major urban centers of Texas. In 1988 Fotofest, a nonprofit international arts organization located in Houston, presented its first International Month of Photography. This biennial event, during which galleries throughout the city present photographic exhibitions and programs, draws curators, dealers, and photographers from around the world.
Texas is a relatively young state, but from the beginning its citizens have made it a center for the collecting of American art. For 100 years individuals, organizations, and institutions in Texas have shared their passion and knowledge in a mutually beneficial relationship that has served communities throughout the state. Texans are known for their independent spirit and their willingness to take risks. A sense of adventure inspired their love of the pursuit; good instincts and a sharp eye for quality ensured the acquisition of superlative examples. Above all, most had the perspicacity to look beyond their own time in order to bestow their collections on future generations. The individual works in those collections prevail, each embodying the personalities of the maker, the collector, and the times in which they lived.
The old arteries of western expansion are today transcontinental thoroughfares, and the industry of fine art sales is global, conducted from the major urban hubs of the world. In the years to come, as treasures of American art become available, the Amon Carter Museum (fig. 11) will carry on its tradition of acquiring the finest examples from among them and, like the Bowens' portraits, bringing them to Texas. With the same degree of commitment, the Carter will also continue in its mission to make these masterworks accessible to the public through ongoing exhibitions, publications, and an ever-expanding array of programs devoted to the study of American art.
1. See Karen J. Blair, The Torchbearers: Women and Their Amateur Arts Associations in America, 1890-1930 (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994).
2. Resa C. Oglesby, "History of the Fort Worth Art Association" (master's thesis, Denton: Texas State College for Women, 1950), 191.
3. Elihu Root, quoted in Suzanne Ramljak, "A Brief History of the American Federation of Arts," May 6, 2002, www.afaweb.org/news/history. asp.
4. Oglesby, "History," 32.
5. Clarence Cranmer in a letter to Mrs. Charles Scheuber, June 6, 1936, Amon Carter Museum object file.
6. The last will and final testament of Amon G. Carter, Article XIII, p. 33, Amon Carter Museum Archives.
7. Carol Clark, American Impressionist and Realist Paintings from the William Fuller Collection (Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum, 1978), 5.
8. From the Preface by Earl A. Powell III, in The James A. Michener Collection: Twentieth Century American Painting (Austin; University Art Museum, University of Texas at Austin, 1977), xvi.
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