The Vilcek Foundation has recently launched two online exhibitions of works from the Vilcek Collection: “The Synchromists” and “Oscar Bluemner: The Sonnet Series.” Both shows feature works from the foundation’s collection of American Modernist Art and represent important moments of connectivity across mediums in the art of the early 20th century.
“The Synchromists” includes works by Morgan Russell and Stanton Macdonald-Wright, the founders of Synchromism. Works of art in the exhibition span more than half a century, and represent the growth and development of the movement they founded in 1912.
“Synchromism is valuable for the creative leap it represents as painters began to explore different modes of engaging abstraction in their work,” said Emily Schuchardt Navratil, curator for the Vilcek Foundation. “These works trace that development and chart the longevity of the movement.”
The second of the two exhibitions, “Oscar Bluemner: The Sonnet Series,” comprises a series of sketches for paintings based on 12 sonnets by poet Eirene Mungo-Park. “Bluemner was a renowned colorist; his signature reds remain as brilliant today as when they were painted,” noted Navratil. “This series of works is revelatory, illuminating in shades of black, white, and grey the power and inventiveness of his compositions.” The series was never realized in paint, nor were the poems of Eirene Mungo-Park ever published. These sketches remain an ode to the compositional brilliance of Bluemner, and to the collaboration of writers and visual artists at the beginning of the 20th century.
Originally conceived of as an on-site exhibition, the Vilcek Foundation’s president, curator, and registrar worked with Brian Cavanaugh, our director of digital, to envision, develop, and bring to life this online exhibition. The goal was to create a “place” in the space of a publicly available website that would allow users to have an experience with each of the exhibitions as a cohesive whole, with the opportunity to link to separate pages for a “deeper dive” into individual works of art.
The importance of the pacing of the original exhibitions—as envisioned for the foundation’s exhibition space—was incorporated into the digital exhibitions. Seamus McKillop, registrar and collections/exhibitions manager for the Vilcek Foundation, explained, “‘The Sonnet Series’ is a group of 12 works that Bluemner sketched. The Vilcek Collection includes 11 of those 12 works, with one work in the series missing. The missing work, ‘No. 4 Cottage,’ has never been photographed and is believed to have disappeared between 1967 and 1982. We decided to embrace this missing work and include a blank space while installing the physical exhibition. Brian Cavanaugh helped us to embrace the missing work when creating the digital exhibition by replicating this space and highlighting its value in considering the series as a whole.”