Hillstrom Museum of Art presents exhibitions of paintings and works on paper by Arthur Bowen Davies (1862-1928)December 6, 2020

Time: December 6, 2020

UPDATE (as of January 13, 2021): with the end of Governor Walz's "Dial Back" period and the College's "Lay Low" period, the Hillstrom Museum of Art has returned to its previous pandemic visitation guidelines.  These allow all students and employees to visit the Museum during all of its open hours (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 1 to 5 p.m. weekends).

The general public may email hillstrom@gustavus.edu to request an invitation to be an invited guest of the College in order to come to campus to visit the Museum (please note that this email process typically requires at least a couple of days).

A video walk-through tour of the current exhibitions at the Museum is available on the Museum website (https://gustavus.edu/finearts/hillstrom/exhibitions.php).  Also available there is a pdf of the catalogue of the current exhibitions (please see below for additional information; hard copies of the catalogue are available for purchase at the Museum), a pdf of an article about the exhibits that recently appeared in the American Art Review, and a recorded lecture by Mac Cosgrove-Davies, co-curator of the current exhibits and the great-grandson of artist Arthur Bowen Davies, the subject of those exhibits.


On view at the Hillstrom Museum of Art from November 23, 2020 through January 26, 2021 will be paired exhibitions, Modern Movement: Arthur Bowen Davies Figurative Works on Paper from the Randolph College and Mac Cosgrove-Davies Collections, and Arthur B. Davies Paintings from the Randolph College Collection.

These exhibitions, which are supported by a generous grant from the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation, feature nearly 70 paintings and drawings by American artist Arthur Bowen Davies (1862–1928), a key figure in modern American art.  Not only was Davies one of the group called “The Eight” from which the pivotal Ashcan School of modern American art arose, but he also was instrumental in introducing European modernism to America through his role as the key organizer of the famed 1913 “Armory Show” exhibition held in New York, Chicago, and Boston.

Much of Davies’ own work has a dreamy, Arcadian quality that seems at odds with the gritty, urban realism of his contemporary Ashcan artists in America and with European art of his time. Yet in his embracement of the archaic and his concern to suggest motion in his works, he was quite modern in spirit. The artist was inspired by the current dance movement of dancers such as Isadora Duncan (1877–1925), and a number of the figurative works in the exhibitions show the influence of dance, while others more generally relate to the human form in motion, sometimes in isolation but also set into tonal landscapes.

Art historian Robin Veder, in an essay for the catalogue accompanying these exhibitions, notes that Davies’ figures are “a particularly promising site for exploring his modernist aesthetic,” further commenting that the artist’s “compositional arrangements show a modernist’s eye for the formal qualities of line and pattern, and the models’ poses demonstrate a physical sensibility particular to the early 1900s.”

The traveling exhibitions were organized by the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, in collaboration with the artist’s great-grandson, curator Mac Cosgrove-Davies. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans to bring Cosgrove-Davies to Gustavus Adolphus College to lecture were set aside, and he instead has recorded a lecture that is available on the Hillstrom Museum of Art's website (https://gustavus.edu/finearts/hillstrom/exhibitions.php).

Arthur Bowen Davies is also a key figure in the collection of the Hillstrom Museum of Art.  Museum namesake Richard L. Hillstrom collected works by Davies and other artists from his circle as a primary concentration.  In 2002, Hillstrom gave a Davies oil Figure Study to the Museum, and in 2004 the Museum acquired a 1919 lithograph titled Clouds using endowment acquisition funds.  These two works are being shown as an adjunct to the traveling Davies exhibits.

NOTE that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no opening reception for these exhibits, and hours at the Museum may be restricted.  As of the opening of the exhibits, the general public is not allowed on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College.  Those wishing to visit the exhibits must email hillstrom@gustavus.edu to seek an appointment as an invited guest of the College (note that this process typically will take at least two days).  For more information, including updates to Museum hours and visitation, please see the Museum website at www.gustavus.edu/hillstrom.

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