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Four “True” Rodin sculptures on view in Rodin: Realism, Fragments, and Abstraction at MMFA through January 7, 2018

When the art dealer Ambroise Vollard (1866–1939) asked Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) how to distinguish a false from a true Rodin, the sculptor replied: “Only I can do so. It’s quite simple. A true Rodin is one that has been cast with my consent; the false is done without my knowledge.”

Rodin’s statement is true, but it is not as simple as it seems—at least relative to the determination of the authenticity of his casts today. First, he has been dead for a century, so he certainly is not able to speak now about the authenticity of any particular cast. Moreover, he knew that there were illegitimate casts made during his lifetime and illegitimate casts have been made since his death. Moreover, Rodin complicated matters in 1916 when he willed to the French state his studio full of sculptures and models along with the authorization to make posthumous casts in return for France assuming stewardship of his studio and collection in perpetuity as a public museum. In short, he knew that the Musée Rodin would make posthumous casts of his sculptures; therefore, those too would be “true” Rodin sculptures.

Four of these “true” Rodins are on display in the small exhibition, Rodin: Realism, Fragments, and Abstraction. Jean de Finnes, The Three Shades, and The Gates of Hell, Third Maquette are on loan from Iris Cantor, who with her husband B. Gerald Cantor built the third largest collection of Rodin sculpture in the world (only surpassed by the Musée Rodin in Paris and the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia) and gave most of it to Stanford University. The Head of Jean d’Aire is from the MMFA collection.

The monumental figure of Jean de Finnes and the full-scale Head of Jean d’Aire are both from Rodin’s renowned Burghers of Calais (1884–1889), an innovative memorial to heroes who volunteered their lives to lift the siege of their town during the Hundred Years War (1337–1453). They illustrate Rodin’s distinctive approach to realism, which included a tendency to abstract features like hands and feet for expressive effect.

The Three Shades and the maquette, or study, for The Gates of Hell (1880­–­1917) are two out of scores of individual sculptures associated with the artist’s commission for the entrance portal of a decorative arts museum that was never built. Although Rodin knew that the commission was canceled, he continued to work on the enormous sculptural composition based on the Divine Comedy (ca. 1308–1321) by Dante (ca. 1265–1321) throughout his life.

The Three Shades illustrates the master sculptor’s avant-garde style of fragmenting and reassembling sculptures in new compositions, often evolving their titles and meaning in the process. The Three Shades are three identical casts of a figure he originally titled Adam. Rodin decided to replicate the figure and group them as the finial element on the Gates. Close inspection reveals that each of the figures is missing its right hand, a conscious decision Rodin made for compositional reasons.

In addition to the four original Rodin sculptures, the exhibition includes several reproductions of photographs from the Musée Rodin that show the artist and his work in progress. Rodin used photography to record assemblages of sculptural components in compositions that he wanted to study, often drawing or making notes on the photographs.

Together, these photographic reproductions and these “true” Rodin posthumous bronzes give us a glimpse at the genius of the “Father of Modern Sculpture” who used realism, abstraction, and fragmentation in unprecedented ways to create art that continues to resonate with viewers around the world.

Michael W. Panhorst, Ph.D.
Curator

 

 

Image 1: Unknown photographer, Portrait of Rodin wearing a beret and a coat covered with plaster, 1880, Reproduction of albumin print, From the Collection of the Musée Rodin, Paris, Ph.00311

Image 2: Installation photograph of Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917), Jean de Fiennes (Clothed), modeled 1885-1886, Musée Rodin cast 2/8 in 1981, bronze, 82 x 48 x 38 inches. Lent by Iris Cantor.

Image 3: Auguste Rodin (French, 1840­–1917), The Three Shades, modeled 1880–1904, Musée Rodin cast 10 in 1981, bronze, 40 ¾ x 37 ½ x 20 ½ inches. Lent by Iris Cantor

 

Discover Summer Adventure at the MMFA

School is out and summer is just around the corner. With the temperatures approaching the 90-degree mark or higher many people are looking for ways to get out and enjoy themselves while keeping comfortably cool. The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts has just what you looking for in our air-conditioned galleries, studios, Café M, and Museum Store.

Check out the list of activities for June here at the MMFA. Click through to discover some fun events to make your summer memorable.

First Sundays
Sunday, June 4, 1 P.M.

Learn about works of art on view in the Museum’s permanent and temporary exhibitions. This FREE one-hour docent-led tour introduces some of the most important works in our collection.

 

Short Course: The Work of Auguste Rodin
Tuesdays, June 6, 13, and 20, at 12 noon

The Museum now enjoys  the loan of several bronze sculptures by the French master Auguste Rodin from the collection of Iris Cantor. As is evident in his work, Rodin was a transitional figure in the art world of nineteenth-century France, both a traditional sculptor and radical innovator .

Free Film at the Museum
Thursday, June 15, 5:30 P.M.

Join us for a FREE showing of the movie Lust for Life. Enjoy the 1956 classic in which Kirk Douglas plays Vincent Van Gogh and Anthony Quinn plays Paul Gauguin. There will be wine, soft drinks, and bottled water available for purchase, and as always, the delicious popcorn is free!

Third Saturdays
Saturday, June 17, at 1 P.M.

Take a FREE one-hour docent-led tour of the Museum’s permanent and temporary exhibitions. For more information call 334.240.4365.

Art Camp
June 19 through 22, 8:30 A.M.

This is the first of three youth summer camps the MMFA education department will offer this year. It will focus on the elements of art, and promises to be both fun and instructive. Participants will leave with an armful of their own artworks created in the studio.

Tales for Tots (ages 2 to 5 with an adult caregiver)
Wednesday, June 28, 10:30 A.M., and 11 A.M.

This FREE monthly program for the pre-school set helps foster learning about elements of art through storytelling and a simple craft activity related to art that is on display in the galleries.


Saturday Brunch 

Saturday, from 10 A.M. to 1 P.M.

Café M’s Saturday Brunch offers a variety of delicious options made from fresh local ingredients. Check out our summer menu now featuring French Toast Casserole with Peach Compote, delicious summer salad combos with grilled fish and chicken, and our always popular crustless quiches. We invite you to enjoy a delicious meal accompanied by a stunning view overlooking the lake and park. Call ahead and make your reservations at 334.240.4339.

 

 

Happy Art Museum Day!

Held in conjunction with International Museum Day, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is celebrating Art Museum Day on this Sunday, May 21, from 2–4 P.M.

Every year since 1977, the International Council of Museums’ International Museum Day is organized worldwide on or around May 18. This day is an occasion to raise awareness on how important museums are in the development of society. From America to Oceania, including Africa, Europe, and Asia, this international event includes almost 30,000 museums that organized activities in more than 120 countries, offering free admission, special programs and events in an international celebration of the importance of museums in our world.

This year’s theme for Art Museum Day is Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums. History is a vital tool for defining a given people’s identity, and each of us defines ourselves through important and fundamental historic events. Contested histories are unfortunately not isolated traumatic events. These histories, which are often little known or misunderstood, resonate universally, as they concern and affect us all.

Museum collections offer reflections of memories and representations of history. This day will therefore provide an opportunity to show how museums display and depict traumatic memories to encourage visitors to think beyond their own individual experiences. By focusing on the role of museums as hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people, this theme highlights how the acceptance of a contested history is the first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation.

In honor of our shared belief that the arts are a crucial element of civil society, essential to the well-being of our communities and our democracies, the MMFA is celebrating Art Museum Day this Sunday, May 21, with a unique Family Art Affair and Jazz Jams from 2:00–4:00 P.M. We hope to see you at the Museum!

It’s a New Month to Create Many Fun Memories at the MMFA

The month of May promises to be an unforgettable one here at the MMFA. We kicked off the first week with the annual Flimp Festival and First Sundays, and that’s just a sample of we have planned with you in mind. Here is a list of other upcoming events.

Ekphrasis: Tom and Jack: the Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock

Wednesday, May 10, 12 noon

Ekphrasis is a monthly book club devoted to the history of art. Works of fiction and non-fiction are featured, covering periods ranging from the ancient world to the present. For this unique program, staff members lead presentations to provide visual context for the chosen books. To reserve lunch from Café M, call 334.240.4365 or email edsecy@mmfa.org. This is a free program for Museum members.

 

Third Saturdays

Saturday, May 20, 1 P.M.

Learn about works of art on view in the Museum’s permanent and temporary exhibitions. This FREE one-hour docent-led tour introduces some of the most important works in our collection. For more information call 334.240.4365.

International Museum Day!

 Sunday, May 21, 2 P.M.

Celebrate International Museum Day with us at Family Art Affair and Jazz Jams! Museums across the country will be celebrating this week and encouraging people to visit their local museums. Come and listen to inspiring music while you construct your own mini-gallery in our studio.

Tales for Tots (ages 2 to 5 with an adult caregiver)

Wednesday, May 24, 10:30 or 11 A.M.

This FREE monthly program helps develop early learning about elements of art through storytelling and a simple craft activity related to art that is on display in the galleries.

It’s Time for Flimp 2017!

For the past twenty-eight years, the first weekend in May has been a time to celebrate the arts at the MMFA and in the Blount Cultural Park.  This year’s Flimp Festival will be held on Saturday, May 6, from 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. You won’t want to miss this event, which will feature all the traditional favorites, plus some happy surprises! 

The Flimp Festival at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts was inspired by the bronze fountain created by Alabama artist Geneva Mercer in the MMFA’s collection, which is on view in our Foyer for the day of the festival paying homage to the origin of the word Flimp, or Flower Imp. The Museum is partnering with BTW Magnet High School for the fourth year in a row and will showcase the talents of these local students from the Montgomery Public School System.

 

Traditionally, the festivities start off at 10:30 pm with the Do-Dah Parade of costumed pets, featuring dogs from the Montgomery Humane Society. Students from BTW act as guides for these worthy animals who are seeking their forever homes, dressing them up in costumes, walking with them in the parade, and then presenting them to the public to be adopted.  We encourage everyone to bring their pet in their most colorful attire to walk in the parade and compete for prizes awarded for costume creativity. Sign up in advance online, or the morning of the Festival from 10:00 to 10:20. To learn more, visit our Flimp Festival event page.

 

After this rousing start, the day is filled with activity around the grounds and in the building for families and visitors of all ages. Colorful chalk art fills the parking area, BTW students provide theatre, music, and dance performances on two stages, our permanent collection provides inspiration for our “Treasure Hunt,” and there are hands-on art activities in our studios, plus much more.   The theme for Flimp 2017 is Alabama Quilts and Quilting with our honored guest Yvonne Wells, whose quilts are featured in our MMFA collection.  Staff members and volunteers from the Alabama Department of Archives and History will be demonstrating the process of ginning cotton with a replica cotton gin while providing insight into the history of quilting in Alabama.

 

This year, our grounds are undergoing a transition as we build the Museum’s sculpture garden on the eastern side of the building.  For that reason, parking will be relocated, and we encourage you to consult this year’s Flimp Festival page for a map that will assist you in finding your way to parking as well as locating Flimp’s many events. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook @montgomerymfa to learn more about the schedule, upcoming events and any updates or changes!

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, May 6 from 10:00 to 2:00 to experience all the fun of Flimp!

“Volunteer Voices” Part 1

At the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts there are many opportunities and activities for volunteers to be involved in. Volunteers can assist at the First Impressions Desk, where they greet visitors and provide information about current activities and exhibits, or work on special projects or museum-wide events. Docents are special volunteers who are trained to lead gallery tours, teach studio lessons and lead art projects for the general public. These are but a few of the roles docents play at the museum.

Volunteers and Docents spend hundreds of hours each year here at the museum. I thought it might interest you to know what several of them said in response to the following question:

“What drew you to the museum as a place to share your time and energy?”

  • “My docent friend, Grace, was a new docent and she kept telling me about the new adventures she was having, and I finally decided that I wanted to be part of the fun.” – Penny Thompson, Docent
  • “I was newly retired and relocated and wanted to find something to do while giving back to the community. I had always been interested in art and fell in love with the museum.” – George Jacobsen, Docent
  • “I love the atmosphere of the museum – free, artistic and it seems like people who visit want to immerse themselves into the artistic world.” – Meili Wang, First Impressions Volunteer, Special Events Volunteer and Muse (teen council member)
  • “When my husband and I first moved to Montgomery (over 20 years ago) we lived in a rental home. I would visit the museum several times a week to lift my spirits and soul. I found out from a retired professor at AUM that I might be able to teach workshops at the museum and my volunteering branched out into being a docent once I retired from teaching art.” – Maria Freedman, Docent

  • “After retiring I was looking for something to do. I thought about being an Uber driver, but somehow that didn’t feel right. My friend suggested that I give the museum a try (at the First Impressions Desk) and I have enjoyed seeing the public on a weekly basis. I get to come into a wonderful setting and imagine traveling to fabulous places with the American artists that have their artwork displayed in MMFA.” – Jack Banker, First Impressions Volunteer
  • “I have done volunteer work at several other places in the community. After coming to the museum I found it to be “My Happy Place.” I can feel like I am doing something good while I am there. I like being busy. I can assist the educational staff with projects: cutting out fish for the 5th-grade tours or helping visitors find more ways to enjoy their visit.” – Jeanne Polis, First Impressions Volunteer

 

Next time’s question answered through Volunteer Voices will be:

“Do you have a favorite or rewarding moment with visitors of the museum?”

Stay tuned!

-Meg Hall
Volunteer Coordinator

 

Image 1: Mattie DeJarnette, volunteer, at First Impressions Desk

Image 2: Frank Gitschier, docent, in Permanent Collection Galleries

Image 3: Lisa Newcomb, docent, in Permanent Collection Galleries

Image 4: Liz Land, docent, in ARTWORKS

Spring is in Full Swing at the MMFA

April is a season of renewal and growth.  Here at the MMFA, we  encourage you to visit the natural beauty of the Blount Cultural Park, stroll the Museum’s galleries, or participate in the many events we have scheduled throughout the month. Here is a sampling of the many activities designed for visitors of all ages.

First Sundays

Sunday, April 2, at 1 P.M.

Learn about works of art on view in the Museum’s permanent and temporary exhibitions. This FREE one-hour docent-led tour introduces some of the most important works in our collection. For more information call 334.240.4365. 

 

The Art of Baking Puppet Show

Thursday and Friday, April 6 and 7

This fun and educational event designed for three to six-year olds will be offered FREE at 9:30 and 10:45 A.M. on both days. Children will learn from charming animals working in a bakery on stage that “art is everywhere.”

 

Ekphrasis: Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan

Wednesday, April 12, 12 noon

Ekphrasis is a monthly book club devoted to the history of art. Works of fiction and non-fiction are featured, covering periods ranging from the ancient world to the present. See our website listing for more information, and  be sure to check out the delicious catered lunches by Jennie Weller Catering and Events which can be reserved with a call to the education department.

 

Stained Glass Workshop

Thursday, April 6, 13, 20, and 27, from 6 to 8 P.M.

For beginners as well as those with prior experience working with glass, this course  teaches all the steps in creating a stained glass window.

 

 

Short Course

Tuesdays at 12 noon, April 18, 25, and May 2

Enjoy this series of Tuesday noon gallery talks led by the Museum’s Curators giving more insight into our temporary exhibitions.

Film at the Museum: Girl With a Pearl Earring

Thursday, April 20, 5:30 P.M.

Have you ever imagined Vermeer’s studio, or how he created such strikingly quiet images in the midst of a busy household? Tracey Chevalier depicts Vermeer’s daily life in her novel, The Girl With a Pearl Earring, in which she imagines how Vermeer’s famous painting came to be.

 

 

 

Family Art Affair and Jazz Jams

Sunday, April 23, 2 P.M.

Let the music move you as you create artwork to take home! Each date has a specific theme related to Museum exhibitions, so bring the whole family for these FREE Sunday outings every month!

 

MAG Museum Exhibition Juror’s Critique

Saturday, April 29, 10:00 A.M.

Hear from juror Jim Neel about the varied expressions by local artists on view in the 42nd Montgomery Art Guild Museum Exhibition.

 

 

An Afternoon With Mary Lynne Levy

Sunday, April 30, 2 P.M.

Along with her many other civic contributions, Montgomery Art Guild  Featured Artist Mary Lynne Levy has long been active in Montgomery as an artist and supporter of the arts.

Teaching with Objects: Connecting Core Subjects to Works of Art!

Not too long ago at MMFA, an American history teacher had each of his students write about an era of our nation’s past as represented in a work of art in the Museum’s collection. Each year countless students of all ages write about works of art on view. Earlier this week on Pi day, a group studied connections between math and architecture and works of art. We invite all teachers to reflect on how our collection can enrich their classroom goals.

Schools and educational institutions all over the country are working to follow both the Common Core Standards set at the national level and their respective state standards in an engaging way that will lead to student success.   These efforts of teachers go hand in hand with the goals of Museums – to develop programming for students that not only meets, but exceeds these standards inviting students to connect to a larger world, the fabric of history, and many perspectives at the art Museum. The Museum hopes more teachers will take the opportunity to use paintings as texts in all of their core subjects. One of my primary goals as a Museum Educator is to support teachers by ensuring that our programming is aligned with the standards the state of Alabama is currently using.

For those not familiar with Common Core State Standards they rely heavily on non-fiction texts and primary sources to teach reading and comprehension skills. While creative writing is beyond the scope of the standards, the core focus on primary sources such as newspapers, journals, and formal documents fit easily with history museum programming. You may wonder how art museums fit in? As an art museum educator I use artworks in two ways that coincide with CCSS. One is a more obvious way and the second is maybe not so apparent.

The CCSS emphasize skills such as deductive reasoning, context clues, and inferences. The visual arts are great for honing all of these skills. Our docents here at the MMFA are trained to guide students through a discussion that gets them to really look at an artwork and derive meaning from what they see. By allowing students to take time to observe and find their own meaning, this encourages further exploration and naturally creates opportunities to solidify comprehension skills such as those mentioned above. Taking this idea one step further is using visual works of art as primary sources such as in the history class mentioned earlier.

Primary sources are by definition artifacts that were created during the time period being studied, whether the source is a document, diary, recording, or an artwork. Take for instance the painting by John Kelly Fitzpatrick called Saturday Morning. Created in 1935, it depicts a ‘snapshot’ of life in a small Alabama town. The artist, we know, was hired to paint regional scenes by the Works Progress Administration, during the Great Depression. Armed with that bit of knowledge we can infer that the artist was most likely painting from his own experience of being in this particular small town and recording what he saw. Now, while the artist may have taken liberties with color and composition we can still derive useful historical and contextual information from this painting by looking at it more closely, for example the juxtaposition of the automobile and smokestack with a mule and cotton cart. Similarly, one can have the same kind of conversation with a portrait. Inferences can be made about the time period by exploring the objects included in the painting as well as clothing, accessories and background features. The sitter’s wealth and fashionable taste is being celebrated in clothing, jewelry, and surroundings in the belle époque portrait Mrs. Louis E. Raphael by John Singer Sargent.

While our educational landscape continues to evolve, museums will continue to engage students in worthwhile programming that will help with skills of comprehension, observation, and critical thinking using myriad connections to all core subjects. As museum educators we strive to create experiences and resources that enrich the lessons in the classroom. The MMFA will continuously adapt our programming to meet the needs of the students to ensure they are given the tools to make connections between what they are learning in the classroom and what they see in our galleries.

Kaci Norman
Assistant Curator of Education
Youth, Family, and Studio Programs

 

Credit Information:

Figure 2: John Kelly Fitzpatrick (American, 1888–1953), Saturday Morning, 1935, oil on masonite, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Works Progress Administration, 1935.7

Figure 3: John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925), Mrs. Louis E. Raphael (Henriette Goldschmidt), ca. 1906, oil on canvas, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, The Blount Collection, 1989.2.3

Five “Greats” chosen by our staff from the MMFA Collection

Short on time while visiting the MMFA? Make sure to check out these pieces for an insight into the variety of the Museum’s collection. All works were marked as favorites by the Museum’s staff!

Click here to download a map with more information on gallery location and audio tour stops.


Blount Collection

Edward Hopper, New York Office, 1962

Top5.HopperNew York Office was painted when Hopper was eighty years old, and very near the end of his life.  But the subject of the painting had occupied the artist since virtually the beginning of his career, combining three major themes he revisited regularly in his art: urban environment, the business office, and a solitary figure viewed through a window from the outside.

Click the title above to read more!

John Singer Sargent, Mrs. Louis Raphael, ca. 1906

Top5.SargentThis portrait depicts the wife of one of the directors of a prominent London Bank, R. Raphael and Sons. The setting is Sargent’s London studio at 31 Tite Street, which is documented in contemporary photographs. Specific accessories such as the sculpture on the mantelpiece as well as those visible in the mirror are known to have been in Sargent’s studio when the portrait was made in about 1906.

Click the title above to read more!

 

 

 

 

 

Karen LaMonte, Ojigi Bowing, 2010

Top5.LamonteFrom afar, Ojigi-Bowing seems to glow from within.  Without a head or hands, it seems almost ghostly.  On closer inspection, the piece reveals the glow to be the overhead light refracting through the hollow interior out through the slightly frosted, but still translucent glass.

Click the title above to read more!

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Chapman, Mutter und Tochter, 1993

Top5.ChapmanThe artist Gary Chapman defines the “attractiveness” of the mother in Mutter und Tochter as based upon his personal experience of powerful, confident women. It his belief that mothers need to be strong role models for their daughters as women continue to strive for full social equality.  This mother embodies the idea of physical strength, as it is portrayed in her defined musculature, and her confident pose.

Click the title above to read more!

 

 

 

Young Gallery

Kelly Fitzpatrick, Negro Baptising, 1930

Top5.NegroBaptisingNegro Baptising is one of the first paintings acquired by the museum, donated by Fitzpatrick, who was a member of the first board of directors and a teacher in the affiliated art school. Like many of his works, it depicts an activity he witnessed in the local rural black community, in this case a traditional river baptism.

Click the title above to read more!

February Makes Its Mark on the MMFA

It’s during the month of February that people tend to reflect on love and happiness. Here at the MMFA, we make it a point to celebrate those special times with you. Here is a list of the events that were created with the community in mind.

Short Course: Alabama Quilts 
Tuesdays: February 14, 21, and 28, at 12 noon

Throughout our state’s history, quilting has brought communities together. Now the MMFA and the Alabama Department of Archives and History have paired quilts from their collections representing similar themes, patterns, and techniques in works created across various times, places, classes, and racial lines. Join us for this short course to learn more about Alabama quilts and explore the exhibition Sewn Together.

Tales for Tots 
Wednesday, February 15, 10:30 to 11 A.M. and 11 to 11:30 A.M.

This FREE monthly program helps develop early learning about art fundamentals as participants engage with storybooks and simple craft activities related to art on display in the galleries.


Putting Together the Pieces: Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” and Quilting Tradition,
co-hosted by Alabama State University
Thursday, February 16, 6 P.M.

Dr. Jacqueline Trimble, Chairperson of the Department of Languages and Literatures, and Dr. Catherine Gubernatis Dannen, Assistant Professor of English, Alabama State University, will lead a gallery talk in the exhibition Sewn Together: Two Centuries of Alabama Quilts.


Film at the Museum: Basquiat
Thursday, February 23, 5:30 P.M.

Layered with symbols, text, graffiti-like expressions, and references to other creative minds, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings broke auction records for work by an African-American artist and remain highly collectible today. Basquiat, written and directed by painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, tells the story of the artist’s short, tragic life, and his meteoric success.

Family Art Affair and Jazz Jams 
Sunday, February 26, 2 P.M.

View the collaborative exhibition Sewn Together: Two Centuries of Alabama Quilts displaying traditional handmade quilts from the collections of both the MMFA and the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Enjoy the studio program replicating quilting styles and themes using textiles and colorful papers to make your own pattern designs to take home! As always, the jazz will be found in the Museum’s Orientation gallery!

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