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Eva Watson Schütze: Photographer on exhibit at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art

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Tom Wolf, curator for Eva Watson-Schütze: Photographer, Sara Pasti, SDMA director, Brian Wallace, SDMA curator, are available for interviews. Call 845-257-3872

New Paltz, NY – Thirty elegantly composed and delicately lit platinum prints of Eva Watson-Schütze will be on exhibit at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art located on the campus of the State University of New York at New Paltz through June 14, 2009.  Curated by Tom Wolf, Eva Watson-Schütze: Photographs brings together rarely shown  images by Watson-Schütze created in Philadelphia in the late 1890s, including photographs she made with her partner, Amelia Van Buren, and works she showed in the influential Philadelphia Photographic Salons at the end of the century.

Eva Watson was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1867. At the age of sixteen she enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where she studied under Thomas Eakins. In 1897 she wrote to photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston about her belief in women’s future in photography: “There will be a new era, and women will fly into photography.”

Watson eventually became a founding member of the Photo-Secession movement and contributed both images and articles to Stieglitz's Camera Work, while being an active participant in Steiglitz's circle of followers and artists. Like other late 19th-century photographers, Watson originally had her work exhibited at Alfred Stieglitz's prominent New York gallery.

In 1901 Watson married Martin Schütze, a German professor at the University of Chicago.  She established a new studio in Chicago and soon attracted a large and appreciative clientele for her romantic, yet powerfully composed portraits and figure studies. Beginning in 1902, she and her husband spent their summers in Woodstock, New York. Eventually, Watson-Schütze lived there six months out of the year, working on photography and painting.

In Woodstock, she became associated with Byrdcliffe, a distinctly American arts and crafts colony founded by Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, his wife Jane Byrd McCall, Hervey White (associated with Jane Addams's Hull House in Chicago) and painter Bolton Brown. Watson-Schütze photographed the artists and intellectuals at Byrdcliffe, using the photo studio Ralph Whitehead provided for her.  Most of the Byrdcliffe painters worked in a Tonalist style, characterized by muted colors, blurred contours, and a sense of mystery, a style that descended from Impressionism and from Whistler’s mature works. Tonalism was the painted complement to the soft-focus style of the Pictorialist photographers, and Watson-Schütze made sensitive and nuanced portraits of Byrdcliffe’s Tonalist painters, including Birge Harrison, Carl Eric Lindin, and Bolton Brown.

Wolf, commenting on Eva Watson-Schütze’s work says, “Throughout her career, Watson-Schütze’s photographs exhibited a delicacy of feeling and a sense of humanity that became trademarks of her art.  As she wrote, ‘No one surely is interested in the camera’s point of view…unless the personality of the photographer can be felt through his method of manipulating his tool.’”

This exhibition and the accompanying 64-page catalog are occasioned by a major gift of Eva Watson-Schütze photographs from Howard Greenberg to the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art. The catalog will be available for purchase in April 2009.

For additional information call 845-257-3872 or visit

About the curator

Tom Wolf is a professor of art history at Bard College. He is the recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC; the Japanese-American Cultural Council Fellowship for research in Japan 1994; Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship, Winterthur Museum and Library, Summer 1999, 2000, 2001.  He was the curator for Dutch Scripture Paintings, Albany Institute and New York Historical Society; Konrad Cramer: A Retrospective, Edith C. Blum Institute, Bard College, Yasuo Kuniyoshi: Painter/Photographer, Edith C. Blum Institute and Norton Gallery, Palm Beach,Fla.; and exhibitions of contemporary art at Procter Art Center, Bard College.

His publications include Konrad Cramer: A Retrospective, Edith C. Blum Institute, Bard College, 1981; Woodstock’s Art Heritage, Overlook Press, 1987; Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s Women, Pomegranate Press, 1993; Kuniyoshi in the Early 1920s in The Shores of a Dream: Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s Early Work in America, The Amon Carter Museum, 1996; The Genesis of the MacDowell Colony in Community of Creativity: A Century of MacDowell Colony Artists, The Currier Gallery of Art, 1996; The Founders of the Woodstock Artists Association, The Woodstock Artists Association, 2001.

Image caption - top
Eva Watson-Schütze
Nude Woman on a Rock, ca. 1905
platinum print

Image caption - bottom
Eva Watson-Schütze
Untitled (Old woman and child), ca. 1905
platinum print

Related Programs

Gallery Talk
Thursday, April 2 at 7:00 p.m.
Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art
Tom Wolf, curator of the exhibition will give a gallery talk on Eva Watson-Schütze’s life and work.
Free admission

Docent-Guided Tours of the exhibition Eva Watson-Schütze: Photographer
March 1, 8, 29 from 2-3:00 p.m.
Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art
Free admission

About the museum

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art is dedicated to collecting, researching, interpreting, and exhibiting works of art from diverse cultures.  The permanent collection spans a period of almost 4,000 years. Areas of specialization include 20th century paintings and works on paper, Asian and Pre-Columbian art and artifacts, metals and photographs. SDMA has a special commitment to collecting and exhibiting important works of art created by artists who have lived and worked in the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions.  The Museum is a major cultural resource in the Hudson Valley serving a broad-based constituency from both on and beyond the New Paltz campus.

Museum hours
Tuesday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday, 1-5:00 p.m.
Admission is free