Since the dawn of humanity, individuals have contended with the sublime and unforgiving power of nature. However, by the 20th century, modern issues, such as industrialization, urbanization, and war, had distanced humankind from the natural world that was once integral to their everyday lives.
This struggle between modern life and nature is a theme that was often explored by artists of the 20th century. The use of the old-world medium of woodcut prints to either depict scenes of modern society or the natural world added another dimension to the debate over which environment was superior.
Modernity vs. Nature: 20th Century Woodcut Prints explores the dialogue between the natural materials used in woodcut printing and the contrasting subject matters of modern life and nature utilized by 20th century artists.
This exhibition is curated by Teresa Ferguson, SUNY New Paltz Art History and Digital Media Production major, and intern at the Dorsky Museum.
Leonard Contino was a Brooklyn-born, self-taught abstract artist whose tenacious exploration of pictorial space spanned a fifty-year career. In 1959 at the age of 19, Contino was severely injured in a diving accident. Paralyzed from the shoulders down, he retained some mobility in his arms and hands, and needed to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. While in rehabilitation at the Rusk Institute in New York City, Contino met a fellow patient, the sculptor Mark di Suvero, who would become a lifelong close friend. Di Suvero challenged him to start making art. With di Suvero’s encouragement and the help of a metal brace to support his wrist, he went on to create extraordinary art for the next five decades. He became devoted to his daily practice of painting from morning to evening, and often then making collages late into the night. Contino later observed that being an artist was like a religious calling, you had to be “totally dedicated.” Featuring over eighty artworks, Totally Dedicated is the largest exhibition of Contino’s work to date and encompasses large hard-edge geometric paintings, playful collages, delicate reliefs and sculptures from the 1960s through the 2000’s. It also includes two painted steel sculptures that di Suvero and Contino made together.
On display in the Dorsky galleries January 22 – April 5, 2020.
The works in this exhibition represent the tangible expression of the deeply-rooted spiritual beliefs and ancient mythologies of the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa. As varied as the 47 countries that comprise present sub-Saharan Africa with its clans, tribes, and kingdoms that have existed for millennia, what we call the arts of Africa collectively speak of a profound relationship to the family, the environment, and the cosmos.
Masks comprise the better part of the collection at The Dorsky and represent a wide range of types. The sculptures-in-the-round in this exhibition also have played important roles in ancestor and spirit worship, funerary practices, and fertility and initiation rites, among other rituals. Also included in the exhibition are some adornments, body and home, in addition to two works on paper and cloth from Ethiopia.
The Hudson River School, considered by many to be the first truly American school of landscape painting, flourished between 1825 and 1875. In this exhibition 114 paintings from a remarkble private collection are arranged in series so the viewer can see how 3 different generations of artists of the Hudson River School interpreted the majestic American landscape.
This exhibition was on display in our East Wing galleries February 4 – May 14, 2006.
This on-line exhibition focuses on the Maverick Festival of Woodstock, an annual Bohemian carnival that was founded by Hervey White in 1915 and that ran until 1931. This exhibition presents 49 vintage photographs out of some 130 vintage photographs and other memorabilia documenting the Festival that were assembled by Jean Gaede and Fritzi Striebel of Woodstock in order to chronicle the Maverick Art Colony.
Working in traditional black and white film, Michael Weisbrot tells the decades-long story of his nephew Alan and his family as they struggle with Alan’s serious illness, medical neglect, and institutional indifference. The work is an intimate personal diary, as well as an indictment of our health care and human services systems. Michael Weisbrot has used his photography to create a powerful work that stands alone as art and as a celebration of love, spirit, and family.
Illegal Excavations Destroy the Archaeological Heritage
This exhibition was originally created as a documentary panel exhibition about the illicit traffic of cultural property in South Italy. This on-line version was adapted from the work of Daniel Graepler and Marina Mazzei and produced collaboratively by the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.
“ ...As investigators of world culture, academic institutions must be charged with initiating and encouraging a general change of attitude that prohibits clandestine excavations and the pursuit of trade in looted artifacts. But first and most importantly, a change in our own mind set is required.This is the goal of the team of German and Italian archaeologists who created this documentary. It will be impossible for the reader to deny the urgency and importance of these issues.”
Jan Sawka (1946–2012) was a noted contemporary artist of Polish origin and global reach. His work is in the collections of over 60 museums worldwide. Sawka lived and worked in the mid-Hudson Valley from 1985 until his death, conceiving of and producing many of his most notable works in his High Falls, NY, studio.
This exhibition is made up of works that illuminate two aspects of his practice, his fascination with human consciousness, in this case, with memory, and his interest in place, and the places through which a human life passes. Sawka’s working method and artworks are truly visionary, in the sense that he always worked from mental images. Every work he did is open to his thoughts, his emotions, his mental associations, and, above all to memory.
The Jan Sawka exhibition is on display in the Dorsky galleries February 8 – December 6, 2020.