Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College (Part II)

Marion Boyd Allen (1862-1941), Portrait of Anna Vaughn Hyatt, 1915

Continuing with a few short comments about paintings that especially struck me on my visit to Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College in Lynchburg, VA.

Sometimes you come across an artist whose work is so strong it makes you wonder why they're not better known. That's how it felt seeing Maier Museum of Art's large oil by Marion Boyd Allen,  Portrait of Anna Vaughn Hyatt.  The figure of Hyatt is powerful and looks assured as she sculpts a horse and rider. It seems so fitting that the Maier Museum acquired this painting at a time when Randolph College was an all women's school.


Installation view of the museum gallery with the Allen painting in a commanding position.

    John Sloan, Sun and Wind on the Roof, oil on canvas, 1915

Ever since I studied painting in the same studio where John Sloan taught his class at the Art Students League of New York I've  had a spot in my heart for Sloan's art. (They even had a dusty framed photo on the wall of Sloan posing in the room with his students). 

A favorite subject for Sloan early in his career was women hanging laundry on their apartment roofs. In Maier's Sloan oil the artist sharply silhouettes the woman in her white dress with a long row of billowing white laundry. All the other tones in the painting, including the sky, are held to a much darker level so the sun on the woman and white garments is dazzling. It's a good thing as the laundry flapping in the wind has its own  personality we don't want to miss.

Ernest Martin Hennings (1886-1956), Through the Arroyo, no date

Instead of waving laundry, in this landscape by Hennings the New Mexico rocks basking under a brilliant sun are the real subject of the painting. Like the Sloan woman and laundry, Hennings has made the highlighted rocks the most animated part of his painting. They have an almost fantastic quality that reminds me of giant blocks of butter melting. 

The white shirt on the foreground rider provides a perfect contrast to the rich gold colors of the rocks. Also like in the Sloan, the artist heightens the intensity of the sunlight by pushing the tones of the far mountains down into a deep shadow.

From October 1, 2021 to April 1, 2022 Maier is presenting its 110th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Storytellers: Faith Ringgold + Aminah Robinson.

Faith Ringgold quilt


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