Past Exhibitions

Capturing the Cosmos: Frederic Church painting Humboldt’s Vision of Nature

POSTED ON May 2nd  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery
May 15-October 30, 2016

Frederic Edwin Church, “Mount Chimborazo at Sunset” (detail), c. July 1857, oil on academy board mounted to canvas, 12 x 21 7/16in., Collection Olana State Historic Site, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Capturing the Cosmos, the 2016 exhibition in the Sharp Family Gallery, explored the influence of the great German Naturalist Alexander von Humboldt on Frederic Church.  Acclaimed and revered during his own lifetime, Humboldt is currently enjoying a renaissance due to the recent award-winning bio The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf. Humboldt’s writings inspired Church’s South American adventures and the resulting masterpieces that made him internationally famous, and informed Church’s later trips to Germany’s Bavarian Lakes and Mexico.  Sketches, diaries and artifacts from these trips trace Church’s daring escapades to capture Humboldt’s Cosmos.

This exhibition is organized by The Olana Partnership and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The Trustees and staff of The Olana Partnership wish to recognize the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo; New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey; Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation Ruth Pierpont; Regional Director, Taconic Region Linda Cooper; Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites Christopher Flagg; and Olana Site Manager Kimberly Flook.

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 3.04.07 PMWith additional support provided by public funds from the Museum Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency.

Mystery Box: Student Artists at Work

POSTED ON May 2nd  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Coachman’s House Gallery
June 4-July 31, 2016

The Coachman’s House Gallery was transformed into an experimental work space for Bard College undergraduate and MFA students, Scott van der Veen and Lily Prince, who were selected to experiment with research-based art-making practices at Olana. These students were available for questions and conversations throughout the summer weekends and visitors watched their artwork develop over time.

Follies, Function & Form: Imagining Olana’s Summer House

POSTED ON May 2nd  - POSTED IN On The Road, Past Exhibitions

The Center for Architecture – New York City
January 30-April 22, 2017

Coachman’s House Gallery
August 14-November 13, 2016

Frederic Joseph Church, Plan of Olana, September 1886, watercolor on paper, OL. 1984.39. Collection Olana State Historic Site, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

The historic 1886 Plan of Olana is largely accurate, yet it contains one mystery: a structure labeled “Summer House”.  Summer houses were common in early American gardens and public landscapes, yet there is no documentary evidence about the style or form of this structure at Olana.  Designers will present summer house concept sketches in response to Olana. This exhibition is organized by The Olana Partnership, in collaboration with the New York Chapters of The American Institute of Architects (AIANY) and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA-NY).

For a details and bios click here.

Sharp Family Gallery 2015

POSTED ON April 27th  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery
May 1-November 1, 2015

Credit:

Erastus Dow Palmer (1817–1904), Imogen, 1874, Cast bronze by F. Barbédienne, founder, Paris, France, OL.1981.642, Collection Olana State Historic Site, NYSOPRHP

Thomas Cole (1801–1848), View of the Protestant Burying Ground, Rome, c. 1833–34, oil on canvas, OL.1981.17, Collection Olana State Historic Site, NYSOPRHP

Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900), Cayambe, 1853, oil on paper mounted on canvas, OL.1981.22, Collection Olana State Historic Site, NYSOPRHP

This season the Sharp Family Gallery features a range of the artwork and objects transferred from the first floor of the main house to accommodate the installation of Olana’s 2015 exhibition River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home, guest curated by Stephen Hannock and Jason Rosenfeld. These highlights from collections deinstalled for River Crossings will be on display in the Sharp Gallery from May 3 –November 1, 2015.

The gallery provides visitors with the opportunity to examine closely a selection of paintings, sketches, and decorative arts that may otherwise be somewhat obscured within the historic interiors. Church’s sketch Cayambe from his first trip to Ecuador in 1853 was recently cleaned in the Paintings Lab and then reframed by Eli Wilner & Company. Freshly conserved, the blue highlights in the snow gleam under the heavy cloud. At 18,996 feet Cayambe and the “grand snow peaks” as Church called them, were often shrouded by weather of their own. Church’s ability to render weather and light is also demonstrated in The Hudson Valley in Winter from Olana, a brilliant winter day with lofty white clouds, and Twilight, A Sketch, a vibrant sunset study for Church’s masterpiece Twilight in the Wilderness (Cleveland Museum of Art).

Church was an avid collector and the array of decorative arts he placed in the Court Hall is almost overwhelming; a few of the most interesting objects are displayed in the Sharp Gallery. One of a set of eight chairs with a carved back inspired by Chinese design is a perfect example of Aesthetic Movement furniture. Imogen, a sculpture by Church’s great friend Erastus Dow Palmer (1817–1904), is one of many works by Church’s fellow artists in the house. A Spanish maiolica plate with luster decoration normally brings sparkle to the darker areas of the Court Hall, and the tabouret table would have provided both shimmer and geometric pattern.

The Olana Partnership and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation work in strong collaboration to preserve and conserve the Olana collection at the highest museum-level standards. Many of the collections on display have been cleaned and preserved with the support of The Olana Partnership, and other works removed for River Crossings are currently in the New York State Conservation Labs for research and conservation.

River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home

POSTED ON January 20th  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Thomas Cole National Historic Site and Olana State Historic Site

May 3-November 1, 2015

 

We are excited to announce our 2015 exhibition, River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home, presented in partnership with the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, featuring contemporary art installed directly into the historic spaces and landscapes of the two historic sites. The exhibition is curated by the artist Stephen Hannock and the art historian Jason Rosenfeld, PhD. Artists in the exhibition include Chuck Close, Gregory Crewdson, Lynn Davis, Don Gummer, Jerry Gretzinger, Valerie Hegarty, Angie Keefer, Stephen Hannock, Charles LeDray, Maya Lin, Elizabeth Murray, Thomas Nozkowski, Martin Puryear, Cindy Sherman, Sienna Shields, Kiki Smith, Joel Sternfeld, and Elyn Zimmerman.

Click here to read the River Crossings press release.

Click here to visit the River Crossings website.

Click here for the CBS Sunday Morning segment.

This exhibition is organized by The Thomas Cole National Historic Site, The Olana Partnership and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Major funding for River Crossings was provided by The Moore Charitable Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, New York State’s Empire State Development and the I (HEART) NY Division of Tourism under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council Initiative, Tiger and Caroline Williams, Ed Herrington, Inc., The Bay & Paul Foundations with Chairman David Bury, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, the Columbia County Tourism Department, Jennifer Krieger, and Chas Miller. The companion book and related public programs were funded by Tiger and Caroline Williams, Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Trustees and staff of The Olana Partnership wish to recognize the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo; New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey; Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation Ruth Pierpont; Regional Director, Taconic Region Linda Cooper; former Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites John Lovell; Acting Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites Mark Peckham; and Olana Site Manager Kimberly Flook.

With additional support provided by public funds from the Museum Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency.

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 3.04.07 PMILNYlogo_stakt_webMoore_Charitable_Foundation_logo

Mystery Box: Student Artists At Work

POSTED ON March 20th  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Coachman’s House Gallery

Coachman’s House Gallery June-November 2015

 

Throughout the 2015 summer and fall season, The Olana Partnership gave nine Bard College students the opportunity to participate in a “research-based” artist residency program. On their first day they were given a box of unknown objects and materials that had been assembled by The Olana Partnership staff; all of these poems, photographs, and historic documents surfaced from Olana’s collections and circled around the theme “Trees, Art, and Tourism”. Throughout the summer, the student artists were on-site creating art, conducting individual research, and were available to visitors for questions and conversations. While the exhibition River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home was taking place in the Main House the Olana staff recognized the Mystery Box: Student Artists at Work exhibition would coincide and reinforce how history can inform contemporary art-making. At the gallery opening on September 5, 2015, ephemeral performances of sound and movement took place – they existed and evaporated within Olana’s centuries old structure. These works were performed in part by the Bard Art Students Collective which encompassed eight of the student artists; Blood and Shit by Ezra San Millan and Cullan Powers, wade weight wait by Serena Caffrey and Susannah Yugler, and Ghost in a Shell by Denis Blumin and Kai Mote. The BASC’s works included a music composition titled Jupiter Falling by Ethan Evans and a creative writing work The Church of Quiet Collaboration by Marion Albers which were installed in the Coachman’s House Gallery. Paris McGarry created a solo exhibition titled Don’t Forget to Send Photos including a moving image piece, mixed media photographs, and a graphic map installation.

This exhibition is organized by The Olana Partnership, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Bard College.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Groundswell

POSTED ON June 1st  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Olana’s Ridge Road-One Day Only

September 19, 2015, 1-5pm

The Olana Partnership and Wave Farm’s WGXC 90.7-FM are pleased to co-present a third iteration of their award-winning exhibition event Groundswell. Hundreds will converge at Olana State Historic Site for site-specific performance and works and in sound, installation, broadcast, and movement.

We are delighted to announce the 2015 participating artists who reflect on and react to Olana and its integral viewshed as an ambitious and early environmental work:

John Cage Trust with Seth Chrisman
John Cleater
Brian Dewan
Gambletron
Tyson Hauf
Bernd Klug
LoVid
Douglas Repetto
Quintron

Rain date: Sunday, September 20, 2015

For more information and tickets click here.

All the Raj: Frederic Church and Lockwood de Forest

POSTED ON April 23rd  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Painting, Decorating and Collecting at Olana

Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery, Olana
May 11-November 2, 2014
Guest curated by Roberta A. Mayer

Lockwood de Forest carved teak detail photo by Keith Nyhof, 2008

All the Raj – Frederic Church and Lockwood de Forest: Painting, Decorating and Collecting at Olana, an exhibition featuring oil sketches and decorative arts by landscape painter and 19th century tastemaker Lockwood de Forest, is currently on view at Olana, the historic home and studio of Frederic Church. Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932) studied painting with his great-uncle the eminent landscape artist Frederic Church in the 1870s; the exhibition begins by highlighting sketches showing that the two artists worked side by side at Olana. At that time, Church was busy designing and building the main house, and the young de Forest watched Church draw inspiration from books on Persian and other exotic architecture. In the 1880s de Forest traveled to India to start a decorative arts business creating beautiful Indian and Kashmiri decorative objects to an American audience. De Forest provided Church with carved teak for fireplace surrounds, exquisite painted furniture from Kashmir, expertly engraved brass trays, and a variety of other lavish Indian objects. The exhibition will be on view from May 11 through November 2, 2014.

Exclusive curatorial tours of the exhibition All the Raj: Frederic Church and Lockwood de Forest- Painting, Decorating and Collecting at Olana are offered every Saturday afternoon, and are conducted by curatorial intern Andrea Nero. The tours begin at quarter past the hour from 12:15pm to 4:15pm, running May 17th through November 1st. This gallery focused tour allows visitors to get up close and personal with the exhibition. Visitors may contemplate works on view privately, or hear the insights of Ms. Nero, who spent five months assisting in the preparation of the exhibit. These tours provide the unique opportunity to closely study a selection of paintings, oil sketches and decorative objects in a gallery space at Olana. For reservations click here.

The organizers of All the Raj acknowledge the generous support received from:

Susan Winokur and Paul Leach
Bindy and Stephen Kaye
Lee Anderson Memorial Fund
Additional support has been provided by
Posy Bass and Henry Taves
Bonhams
Valerie and Brock Ganeles
Frank and Patricia Goss
Sara and Tom Griffen
The Olana Exhibition Fund
Stark Carpet
Karen Zukowski and David Diamond

The exhibition is greatly enriched by gifts from Frank and Patricia Goss, Kellam de Forest, Mark LaSalle and The Olana Partnership. It is further enhanced by generous loans from private collections of Anonymous, Associated Artists, Posy Bass and Henry Taves, Gerald Peters Gallery, Richard T. Sharp, and Gerold Wunderlich & Co.

The Board and staff of The Olana Partnership wish to recognize the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo; New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey; Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation Ruth Pierpont; Regional Director, Taconic Region Linda Cooper; and Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites Mark Peckham.

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 3.04.07 PMWith additional support provided by public funds
from the Museum Program of the New York State
Council on the Arts, a State agency.

Preserving Creative Spaces

POSTED ON April 23rd  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Coachman’s House Gallery at Olana
June 28- November 2, 2014

Attributed to Felix Bonfils, Frederic Edwin Church and His Son, Frederic Joseph in Beirut, 1868, carte-de-visite, photograph, 4 7/8 x 3 3/8 in., OL.1984.446, Collection Olana State Historic Site, NYSOPRHP

This documentary installation shines light on the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios (HAHS) program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  HAHS is a consortium of institutions across the United States committed to the conservation, interpretation, and public accessibility of artists’ homes and workspaces.  This exhibition features information about the consortium and documentary photographs and personal artists’ quotes from its nearly 40 member sites, including an image of Frederic Church and his son on a camel in Beirut (1868), the trip which inspired the Persian-style house and studio the painter would later build at Olana.

Other photographs range from the paint-splattered barn used by Jackson Pollack and Lee Krasner in East Hampton, Long Island, to the carriage house in which Grant Wood painted American Gothic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to the hand-crafted woodworking shop of Sam Maloof in Alta Loma, California.  In addition to educating audiences about HAHS, the exhibition will place Olana and Church’s studio in a larger discussion about the importance of preserving historically significant places and structures as part of the nation’s cultural heritage.

The Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios Program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation is supported by a generous grant from the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.

Groundswell

POSTED ON October 3rd  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Olana’s Ridge Road
September 13, 2014
September 22, 2013

Photo by Antoine Lutens

Olana’s 250-acre landscape was originally designed in response to its essential and spectacular views–the “Olana Viewshed”–by Hudson River School artist Frederic Church. On September 13, during this one-day exhibition event, audiences will explore the property’s undiscovered roads and naturalistic scenes as they encounter each project site. Picnicking will take place at a breathtaking clearing, which overlooks the Hudson River, the Catskill Mountains and beyond. The event will culminate with a performance by celebrated composer and artist William Basinski.

Groundswell installations and performances will be sited along Olana’s historic Ridge Road. When Church created this road, he famously wrote: “I can make more and better landscapes in this way than by tampering with canvas and paint in the studio.” While passing through native woodlands and recently restored meadows, participants will interact with the artists and Olana’s background elements, which include: the distant mountains of Vermont and the nearby City of Hudson; the Mount Merino hillside which was protected by Scenic Hudson; the site of the regional St. Lawrence Cement battle; the original property of Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School and Church’s teacher; high voltage power lines with blinking support towers which cross the Hudson River along a route which might soon be expanded throughout the Hudson Valley; the site of the famed Catskill Mountain House, America’s great wilderness hotel, which disappeared in flames in 1963; and Blue Hill, which Church painted and which has recently been threatened with a larger communications tower along its ridgeline. Since the 1970s, when a massive nuclear power plant was rejected because of Olana’s iconic views, Olana has represented a particularly American mix of art and environmentalism.

Proceeds benefit The Olana Partnership and Wave Farm’s WGXC-FM.

This exhibition is organized by The Olana Partnership and Wave Farm’s WGXC-FM.

Jane Carver’s performance and sound-based works are fueled by an interest in the accumulation and decay of sound, as well as the relationship between melody and memory. At Groundswell, Carver will work in collaboration with conceptual artist Mckendree Key, whose practice centers around architecture and space. Key’s ongoing project The Den Transaction is an experiment in space as a commodity in Brooklyn, NY.

Artist Ellen Driscoll explores history, resource consumption, and material lineage in her sculptures, drawings, and installations. Recent projects imagine a ghostly and chaotic future through sculptural landscapes, constructed out of translucent, plastic bottles. Driscoll serves as Program Director of Studio Arts at Bard College.

Michael Garofalo is a sound artist, musician, and senior producer for the national public media project StoryCorps. At Groundswell, Garofalo will work with Laura Ortman and Bryan Zimmerman. Laura Ortman, a composer, multi-instrumentalist, visual and installation artist, has co-founded and performed in groups including The Dust Dive, Stars Like Fleas, and the all-Native American orchestra, The Coast Orchestra. Sound and visual artist Bryan Zimmerman’s work takes shape in performance, photography, collage, and installation, consistently exploring overlooked and undervalued human geography, land use, and outdoor culture.

Hélène Lesterlin founded Studio Reynard in 2012 for her work as director, performer, artist, curator, and instigator of collaborative projects; current works include a medieval puppet satire, as well as a solo dance disguised as a lecture using the archives of the Woodstock Historical Society. At Groundswell, Lesterlin will work in collaboration with Jack Magai, choreographer, dancer, and founder in 2006 with Lesterlin and Margit Galanter of Emergent Scores Lab (ESL), a weekly meeting of improvising time-based artists. His work deals with the battle for our attention between ideas and sensations. The current idea is “nature revives the tired modern soul.”

Man Forever is a exploratory percussion project helmed by drummer John Colpitts (aka Kid Millions), one of New York’s most critically acclaimed and versatile collaborators. Since its inception in 2010, Man Forever has comprised an exciting roster of guest performers.

Marian Schoettle constructs mobile scenarios with clothing and props that explore the experience of the self in relation to social, political, and physical environments. Her ongoing project ‘post industrial folk wear and commodities’ explores the theme of (dis)integration.

Maine Sublime

POSTED ON September 17th  - POSTED IN On The Road, Past Exhibitions

Frederic Church’s Landscape of Mount Desert and Mount Katahdin

Cleveland Museum of Art
October 5, 2014-January 25, 2015

Olana State Historic Site, Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery
June 9-October 27, 2013

Portland Museum of Art
June 30-September 30, 2012

“Sunset, Bar Harbor” by Frederic E. Church, c. September 1854, oil on paper mounted on canvas, 10 1/8 x 17 1/4 in., OL.1981.72, Collection Olana State Historic Site

Frederic Church was America’s most important painter during the middle years of the 19th century. While famous for his scenes of the Arctic, South America, and the Near East, his landscapes of Maine were central to his career for over four decades. This exhibition explored first his early mastery of the conventions of art history, the expressions of national history during his maturity, and finally the poignant reflections of personal history in his later years. Guest curated by John Wilmerding, the Christopher Binyon Sarofim Professor of American art, emeritus, at Princeton University.

Maine Sublime included 10 oil and 13 pencil sketches from the Olana collection that celebrate the glories of Maine scenery. Many were on public view for the first time, including the vibrant plein-air sketch Wood Interior near Mount Katahdin, c. 1877. Loans of 4 important works from the Portland Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC and private collections augmented the sketches from Olana. The early and spectacular Newport Mountain from Mount Desert, 1851 from the National Gallery of Art depicting nature’s more awesome character in the turbulent surf and looming mountain were displayed alongside the related sketch, also from the National Gallery of Art, Fog off Mount Desert, 1850.

The artist first journeyed to Maine in the summer of 1850 spending six weeks on Mount Desert exploring the coast, its rocky Islands, and peaceful harbors. He sketched the scenery which he described as “magnificent both land and seaward,” capturing the splendid sky effects in Sunset Bar Harbor, 1854. In 1852 he trekked inland focusing on the area of Mount Katahdin. Over the next decades Church continued to visit Maine capturing sensational sunsets, robust crashing waves, impressive peaks, and an abundance of wilderness.

Wilmerding’s analysis of the paintings inspired by Maine reveals Church as both a public and private artist. “The work done in Maine during the 1850s and early 1860s, primarily at Mount Desert, embodied sentiments of increasing national strife, in symbolic and suggestive ways, while the career of the later 1860s and 1870s was devoted more to his personal time in inland Maine around Mount Katahdin,” explains Wilmerding. Featured in the exhibition was Twilight, A Sketch, 1858 the study for Church’s great masterpiece Twilight in the Wilderness, 1860 (Cleveland Museum of Art), which reflects the tensions surrounding the impending Civil War. Mount Katahdin from Millinocket Camp, 1895 on loan from the Portland Museum was the artist’s last major Maine canvas and a birthday gift to his wife— a work of great personal significance that both enhanced the exhibition and directly related to the artist’s life at Olana.

The Maine material presented in the exhibition ranged from finished oil sketches that Church displayed in his home to pencil sketches and cartoons that he stored in portfolios and shared with friends, fellow artists and guests. A delightful pencil rendering of the newly married artist and his wife enjoying the bracing coastal winds on one of their first trips to Maine, gave visitors a glimpse of Church’s witty nature.

To read John Wilmerding’s scholarly article click here.

A full color exhibition catalog is available at the Olana Museum Shop.

Olana organized this traveling exhibition to highlight the Church paintings and sketches of Maine from the Olana Collection.

This exhibition is organized by The Olana Partnership and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The organizers of “Maine Sublime: Frederic Edwin Church’s Landscapes of Mount Desert and Mount Katahdin” wish to acknowledge the generous early support received from
Susan Winokur and Paul Leach
The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation

This exhibition and the accompanying book were made possible by major grants from
The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, Inc.
The New York State Council on the Arts Museum Program
The Wyeth Foundation for American Art

Additional support has been provided by
Valerie and Brock Ganeles
Mark LaSalle
The Olana Exhibition Fund

The Olana Partnership’s Jack Warner Fund for Creativity and Innovation
Gary Schiro and Robert Burns
Evelyn Trebilcock and Douglas Hammond
Barrie A. and Deedee Wigmore
John Wilmerding
Eli Wilner & Co., NYC

We are particularly grateful to Henry and Sharon Martin for their commitment and dedication to supporting the development of high quality catalogues in conjunction with Olana exhibitions.

Support for John Wilmerding’s lectures in conjunction with the exhibition at each venue was provided by CHRISTIE’S.

The Trustees and staff of The Olana Partnership wish to recognize the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo; New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey; Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation Ruth Pierpont; Regional Director, Taconic Region Linda Cooper; former Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites John Lovell; Acting Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites Mark Peckham; former Olana Site Manager Linda McLean, and Olana Site Manager Kimberly Flook.

Read John Wilmerding’s scholarly article, click here.

A full color exhibition catalog is available at the Olana Museum Shop.

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 3.04.07 PMWith additional support provided by public funds
from the Museum Program of the New York State
Council on the Arts, a State agency.

Olana’s Dynamic Landscape

POSTED ON June 13th  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Photographs by Peter Aaron

Olana Coachman’s House Gallery
May 19-October 31, 2012

Olana-photo-Peter-Aaron

Photo by Peter Aaron

Peter Aaron is a pioneer in combining cinematic style with architectural photography techniques. Now working with digital capture, his well-composed, trademark images are always lively and luminous. He studied organic chemistry at St Edmund Hall, Oxford University, and received a BA in physics from Bard College and an MFA from the New York University Institute of Film and Television. He worked as a film cameraman before deciding to concentrate on architectural photography which has been his specialty for over 35 years. Peter’s experience as Ezra Stoller’s assistant was transformational. After two years of apprenticeship he adapted his mentor’s techniques, and began integrating dramatic camera angles with theatrical lighting. He is a contributing photographer with Architectural Digest and his images also frequently appear in other books and magazines. Recently Aaron has spoken about his work at the Architectural League in New York, at the Soho Apple store and to the ASMP photographers architectural photography group.

Art Meets Art

POSTED ON April 23rd  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Perspectives on and Beyond Olana

Olana’s Coachman’s House Gallery
June 9-October 27, 2013

“The Big View”, photo by Lynn Davis, 2013

The Olana Partnership and the Hudson Opera House presented the exhibition Art Meets Art: Perspectives On and Beyond Olana. The exhibition guest curated by Richard Roth showcased thirty-five contemporary artists who live and work in the area around Hudson, New York. The exhibition displayed photographs, paintings, posters and multi-media works inspired by Olana: the family home, studio, estate and working farm created as an environment embracing architecture, art, landscape and views by the eminent Hudson River School painter, Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900).

Each artist was invited to create a new artwork directly inspired by Frederic Edwin Church’s most personal artistic masterpiece, Olana. The artists spent time within the iconic house and throughout Church’s 250 acre artist-designed landscape, utilizing the nineteenth-century painter’s home on the Hudson as muse. Artists featured include Peter Aaron, Marina Abramovic, Carolyn Blackwood, R.O. Blechman, DJ Spooky, Makoto Fujimura and Annie Leibowitz.

Life After Life

POSTED ON April 23rd  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Preserving Olana

The Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery
May 19-October 31, 2012

NYS Restoration Crew member Danny Zaloga painting decorative trim on the Bell Tower. Image courtesy Taconic Region, NYS OPRHP.

Nearly a half century ago, Olana was almost destroyed. Olana Preservation, a group of concerned art historians, preservationists and individuals living in the Hudson Valley and New York City, joined forces to save Frederic Church’s three-dimensional masterpiece. A LIFE Magazine article entitled “Must This Mansion Be Destroyed?” brought national attention to the campaign and ensured the venture’s success. In 1966 Olana Preservation and New York State partnered to purchase Olana and establish it as a state historic site. This collaborative effort has provided a standard of excellence for the preservation of this national treasure— moving well beyond “the mansion” to undertake major restoration projects throughout the 250-acre designed landscape.

Since 1966, when Olana was saved from being sold and the collection dispersed at auction, The Olana Partnership (the descendant of Olana Preservation) and New York State have worked together in an extraordinary public-private partnership, investing millions of dollars and countless hours of staff and volunteer hours to preserve Olana. Life after LIFE: Preserving Olana discussed past and future projects to restore the landscape, the farm complex, the house, and the collections—all critical elements of the integrated artistic and personal environment that Church spent four decades creating. We invite our visitors to join the campaign to preserve Church’s last and arguably most enduring work of art, Olana.

Olana was designed by Church to include a farm complex, orchards, meadows, parkland, a native woodland, a man-made lake, and a Persian-inspired house, all connected by five miles of carriage roads that offer spectacular views of the Hudson River valley. On view for the first time was the 1886 Plan of Olana by artist’s son Fredric Joseph, which illustrates Church’s vision for his property. Future restoration efforts will include the revival of Church’s ornamental and working farm.

The first piece of property that Church purchased in 1860 was a working farm—and Church maintained the working portion of the estate throughout his lifetime. By the 1960s many of the farm buildings were in disrepair and some had been lost. Focused preservation of the farm area began in 2006 with the restoration of the Churches’ first home, Cosy Cottage, nestled in the farm complex. Church’s only oil sketch of the building, shown in the exhibition, aided in the recreation of a missing wing. The extant barns are being preserved and missing buildings are being re-created. The Wagon House was recreated in 2008 using historic surveys, archeological evidence and historic photographs. The vantage point from atop Crown Hill, one of Church’s great landscape features, provides views over Olana’s historic farm complex.

The exhibition further explored the extensive efforts to preserve the Olana viewshed. Church designed both the landscape and the house to frame the views. Thousands of visitors come every year to admire the unparalleled views toward four states. Olana works with Scenic Hudson, the Columbia Land Conservancy, The Open Space Institute, and neighbors to preserve the historic viewshed for future generations. To date more than 2,000 acres have been protected.

A multi-year project to restore the main house began in 2001. The entire stone façade was re-pointed, broken slates on the bell tower were restored and replaced, the windows and doors were painted and decorative cornice stencils were recreated. Inside the house paintings, furniture, textiles and decorative objects have been preserved. All these projects help convey the richness of Church’s original vision and intent for the decoration and displays of the rooms within his home. Other projects are less visible but imperative to preservation. In 2006 a state-of-the-art fire detection and suppression system was installed. In addition to safeguarding the house and collections, the system allowed for the opening of the second floor, enabling visitors to tour the Churches bedroom, dressing room and to open a new space for annual exhibitions: the Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery.

Organized and supported by The Olana Partnership and the Bureau of Historic Sites, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of:
Jazz and Christopher Merton
TD Bank
Eli Wilner & Co., New York
Romancing the Woods
Stark Carpet
and the following:
Mr. and Mrs. Brock Ganeles
The Olana Partnership Exhibition Fund
Richard T. Sharp
Susan Winokur and Paul Leach

The Trustees and staff of The Olana Partnership wish to recognize the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo; New York State Office of Parks,Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey; Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation Ruth Pierpont; Former Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites John Lovell; Current Acting Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites Mark Peckham; Regional Director,Taconic Region Linda Cooper; Olana Site Manager Kimberly Flook; Lewis Gleason, Architectural Conservator, Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, Inc.; Ryan Scott, Pro-Printers; the staff at the New State Parks Conservation Center, Peebles Island; and Robert Hills and the Taconic Region Restoration Crew for preparing the exhibition gallery.

Additional support was provided by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency.

We are particularly grateful to John Lovell for all of his assistance with this exhibition.

Photographs were contributed by Richard Gromek, Sarah Hasbrook and Nelson Sterner.

Rally ‘Round The Flag

POSTED ON April 23rd  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Frederic Edwin Church and The Civil War

The Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery
May 26-October 30, 2011

Chromolithograph, published by Groupil & Co., 1861, oil over chromolithograph, after Frederic Edwin Church, Our Banner in the Sky, April-May 1861, 7 9/16 x 11 3/8 in., OL.1986.29, Collection Olana State Historic Site, NYS OPRHP

Two weeks before the scheduled debut of Hudson River School landscape painter Frederic Church’s masterwork The Icebergs, Fort Sumter was bombarded marking the start of the American Civil War. Instead of cancelling the unveiling of the painting at Goupil’s Gallery, Church re-titled his masterpiece: “The North” Church’s Picture of Icebergs showing his support for the northern cause.

Church also pledged exhibition fees to assist the Union’s Patriotic Fund for the families of Union soldiers. Less than a month later, in further support, and in response to the patriotic fever that swept the North, in May 1861 Church painted “Our Banner in the Sky” – a sunrise resembling a Union Flag. The image became a popular chromolithograph issued by Goupil & Co. 2011 marked the Sesquicentennial of the fall of Fort Sumter and the start of the Civil War. Olana’s exhibition examined Church’s reaction to the conflict as an artist and how events involving his friends and colleagues affected him personally. The exhibition included: 4 oil sketches by Church; 2 pencil sketches by Church; 2 chromolithographs after Church; and works by Isaac Hayes and John Jameson.

In conjunction with the exhibition, “Rally ‘Round the Flag: Frederic Edwin Church and the Civil War,” Dr. Kevin J. Avery wrote a wonderful essay related to the exhibition for the academic journal The Hudson River Valley Review, a publication of the Hudson River Valley Institute (HRVI) at Marist College. The journal is available for sale at The Olana Museum Store, or through HRVI. To learn more about HRVI or to obtain a copy through subscription, click here. Dr. Avery has also contributed an article on the John S. Jameson section of the exhibition for the August 2011 issue of American Art Review. To read an expanded version of that essay with complete historical references, click here.

For exhibition brochure, in pdf format, click here.

The exhibition is funded by The Olana Partnership, the not-for-profit support arm of Olana State Historic Site. Olana, the Churches’ Persian-inspired home and 250-acre designed landscape, is owned and operated by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

We recognize the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo; New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey; Director of the Division for Historic Preservation Ruth Pierpont; Acting Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites John Lovell; Acting Regional Director, Taconic Region Garrett Jobson; Olana Site Manager Linda McLean; and Olana Interpretative Program Assistant Carri Manchester.

We are grateful to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Peebles Island Resource Center staff: Collections Manager Anne Ricard Cassidy and her staff Ronna Dixson and Mary Zaremski; Paper Conservator Michele Phillips; Frames Conservator Eric Price; Former Paintings Conservator Joyce Zucker, Painting Conservator Mary Beteljewski; Associate Textile Conservator Sarah Stevens, and Photographer Richard Claus.

We are also grateful to The Olana Partnership’s Curator Evelyn D. Trebilcock and Associate Curator Valerie A. Balint for organizing the exhibition, Archivist/Librarian Ida Brier for her research and curatorial interns Nina Heath and Julianna White for their assistance. We thank Vice President for Development Robert Burns; Director of Administration and Public Affairs Nelson Sterner and Executive Assistant Mary Curran. The exhibition is greatly enriched by generous loans from the private collections of Anonymous (two), Laura and David Grey, and Richard T. Sharp.

For their assistance with these loans we would like to express our appreciation to Patricia Everett, Laura and David Grey, Betty Krulik, Loie and Alex Acevedo, and Frederic W. Lapham III.

For their advice, support, and encouragement of the exhibition and the accompanying publication, we want to recognize the Olana Curatorial Advisory Committee. We hope that this brochure will serve to enlighten readers about the collections at Olana as well as Church’s artistic career and those of his friends during the Civil War long after the exhibition closes. It would not have been possible without a significant donation by New York Press & Graphics. We thank Dr. Kevin J. Avery for his wonderful essay and acknowledge Elaine Koss and Lory Frankel for their thoughtful editing and proofreading.

Farm: Agricultural Life of the Hudson Valley

POSTED ON April 23rd  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Photographs by Brandt Bolding

Olana Coachman’s House Gallery
June 18- October 30, 2011

Photo by Brandt Bolding

Brandt Bolding’s photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the northeastern part of the U.S. and have appeared in newspapers, journals, and publications by various preservation organizations in New York State. He became interested in historic preservation in the course of his architectural and interior design work, photographing and recording historical architectural details. This interest evolved into preservation and photographic documentation of the historic agricultural structures and farms in his home state of New York, specifically the Hudson, Mohawk, and Schoharie River valleys. He has traveled extensively in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine, photographing the farms, barns, and agricultural communities there as well. He is the son-in-law of the late Ted Croner, renowned New York photographer and protégé of Edward Steichen.

In the Footsteps of Frederic Church

POSTED ON April 23rd  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Photos by Larry Lederman

Olana Coachman’s House
June 5 – October 31, 2010

Photo by Larry Lederman

Larry Lederman is a photographer and writer who has traveled to many of the locations Frederic Church visited. This exhibition displayed photographs of a number of sites that Frederic Church painted and sought to evoke his artistic vision and explore his art. The photographs affirmed that many of the wilderness enclaves Church painted still exist, preserved as part of our heritage because of the beauty that he and other nineteenth century painters captured.

Fern Hunting Among These Picturesque Mountains

POSTED ON April 23rd  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Frederic Edwin Church in Jamaica

June 5 – October 31, 2010

“Scene in the Blue Mountains” by Frederic Edwin Church, Jamaica, August 1865, oil on paper mounted on academy board, 10 5/8 x 17 ¾ in., OL.1981.69, Collection Olana State Historic Site, NYS OPRHP

In 1865, Frederic Church, an avid traveler with a special passion for the tropics, journeyed to Jamaica. This was unlike his previous expeditions, as he and his wife, Isabel, were escaping from intense personal grief: the loss of their two young children. Throwing himself into the exploration and documentation of the island, the renowned artist produced a variety of works ranging from delicate pen sketches of palm trees to oil sketches of the atmospheric Blue Mountains and brilliant sunsets. The importance of the trip is reflected in the number of studies Church chose to mount, frame, and display at Olana, which became a major attraction for visitors to his home. The best of the related sketches and paintings from Jamaica comprised the exhibit.

See the Fern Hunting exhibition on Facebook

We thank the following for their help with this exhibition: New York State Governor David A. Paterson; New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash; Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation J. Winthrop Aldrich; Regional Director, Taconic Region, Jayne McLaughlin; and at Olana State Historic Site, Site Manager Linda E. McLean and Interpretive Programs Assistant Carri Manchester. We are also grateful to The Olana Partnership staff members: Curator Evelyn D. Trebilcock; Associate Curator Valerie A. Balint; Librarian/Archivist Ida Brier; Curatorial Interns Alexandra Anderson and Danielle Swanson; President Sara Griffen; Vice President for Development Robert Burns; Director of Administration and Public Affairs Nelson Sterner; and Executive Assistant Mary Curran.

For providing their thoughts on Church and his fellow painters in Jamaica and the tropics, we thank Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser and Katherine E. Manthorne. We appreciate Anthony Johnson’s lovely foreword, where he shares his perspective on Church, Jamaica, and the wonderful ferns that inhabit his island. For managing the loan and preparing the paintings, photographs, and printed material for display and photographic materials for this publication, we are grateful to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Peebles Island Resource Center staff: Acting Director for the Bureau of Historic Sites John Lovell; Director of the Division for Historic Preservation Ruth Pierpont; Collections Manager Anne Ricard Cassidy and her staff Erin Czernecki, Ronna Dixson, and Mary Zaremski; Former Curator Robin Campbell, Curator Susan Walker, and Assistant Curator Amanda Massie; Paper Conservator Michele Phillips; Frames Conservator Eric Price; and Paintings Conservator Joyce Zucker.

The accompanying catalogue, which serves to enlighten readers about the collections at Olana, the adventures of Frederic and Isabel Church, and the lure of Jamaica long after the exhibition closes, would not have been possible without early support from Henry and Sharon Martin; and the guidance of Ed Marquand and his staff at Marquand Books.

For their continued support of Olana publications we are grateful to Cornell University Press, especially John Ackerman and his staff. We acknowledge Lory Frankel for her thoughtful editing of the essays and careful attention to the proofs. For supporting
images we thank: John Benicewicz at Art Resource, New York; Jonathan Boos; Kayla Carlsen at Christie’s; Elizabeth Saluk at The Cleveland Museum of Art; Jacquelann Killian and Chuck Kim at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian
Institution; Fiona Bradley at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Richard Manoogian; Cheryl Robledo at the Manoogian Collection; Susan Grinols at the Museums of Fine Arts, San Francisco; Meghan Mazzela at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Franklin Kelly, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Eleanor Gillers and Jill Slaight at the New-York Historical Society; Private Collection; Chloe Richfield, Director, and Louis M. Salerno, Owner, Questroyal Fine Art, LLC; Mike Ramos; and Erin Monroe and Allen Phillips at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. For contemporary images of Olana included here, we thank photographers Kurt Dolnier, Carri Manchester, and Nicholas Whitman.

For their advice, support, and encouragement of the exhibition, the Sharp Family Gallery, and this publication, we want to recognize the Olana Curatorial Committee: Susan Winokur, Chair; Armin B. Allen; Stephen Edidin, Chief Curator, New-York Historical Society; Barry Harwood, Curator of Decorative Arts, Brooklyn Museum of Art; Mary Ellen Hern, Director of Development, New York State Historical Association, Fenimore Art Museum, and The Farmer’s Museum; Judith Hernstadt; Frederick D. Hill; Paul Leach; John Lovell, Peebles Island Resource Center; Linda E. McLean, Olana State Historic Site; Carri Manchester, Olana State Historic Site; Amy G. Poster, Curator Emerita of Asian Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art; Richard T. Sharp; Carol Irish Strone, Carol Strone Art Advisory; and Karen Zukowski, Independent Scholar.

Finally, we wish to thank the generous individual and institutional donors that provided the necessary funds that have made this important book and exhibition possible: David Kabiller; the Lois H. and Charles A. Miller Foundation, Inc.; the Terra Foundation; Jack Warner Fund for Creativity and Innovation; and the Olana Exhibition Fund.

Glories of The Hudson

POSTED ON April 23rd  - POSTED IN Past Exhibitions

Frederic Edwin Church’s Views from Olana

Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery
May 23 – October 12, 2009

“Winter Sunset from Olana: by Frederic Edwin Church, c. 1871-72, oil on buff academy board 8 ½ x 13 in., OL.1976.13, Collection Olana State Historic Site, NYS OPRHP

The site is the result of a careful study of the river-banks, and commands so many views of varied beauty, that all the glories of the Hudson may be said to circle it. – H. W. French, Art and Artists in Connecticut, 1879.

In 1609, Henry Hudson sailed up the river that now bears his name. This exhibition marked the Quadricentennial of his discovery by highlighting Frederic Church’s sketches of the prospect from his hilltop home overlooking the river.

Church made his first sketch of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains from Red Hill – the south end of the property that became Olana – in 1845, on a sketching expedition suggested by his teacher Thomas Cole. Returning to the Valley in 1860 as the nation’s most famous and best-paid artist, Church settled on a farm on the lower slope of the Sienghenbergh, securing for himself and his new wife a splendid vantage point for studying, sketching, and painting the river. Church continued to add land to his property, attaining new and varied vistas of the river. He crowned the estate with a Persian inspired house designed to frame splendid views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains.

Church never tired of his views of the river, documenting his passion for the Hudson in paintings, oil sketches, and drawings. From Olana, he observed the transformations wrought by the changing seasons, weather, and light, capturing chilly winter snows, brilliant sunsets, and passing storms in sketches executed with a few brush strokes or autumn colors and clear winter light in more finished easel paintings. Often Church was so pleased with the results that he mounted and framed sketches for display in his home. At other times they remained as personal references in the many portfolios of sketches the artist kept for his own private viewing and remembrance.

This inaugural exhibition of the Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery featured a full-color, hardcover catalogue published by Cornell University Press and The Olana Partnership, with an essay by curator Evelyn Trebilcock and associate curator Valerie Balint, an introduction by Kenneth John Myers, Curator of American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and a forward by John K. Howat, Church scholar and former Lawrence A. Fleischman Chairman of the Departments of American Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

See the Glories exhibition on Facebook.

We thank the following for their help with this exhibition: New York State Governor David A. Paterson; New York State O‹ce of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash; Director of New York State Parks Taconic Region Jayne McLaughlin; and at Olana State Historic Site, Site Manager Linda McLean and Interpretive Programs Assistant Carri Manchester. We are also grateful to The Olana Partnership staff members: Curator Evelyn Trebilcock; Associate Curator Valerie Balint; Librarian/Archivist Ida Brier; Curatorial Intern Alyson Mazzone; President Sara Griffen; Vice President for Development Robert Burns; Director of Administration and Public Affairs Nelson Sterner; and Executive Assistant Mary Curran.

For providing their thoughts on painters in the Hudson Valley, we thank John K. Howat for his lovely foreword and Kenneth Myers for his thoughtful introduction.

For managing the loan and preparing the paintings, photographs, and printed material for display and photographic materials for this publication, we are grateful to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Peebles Island Resource Center: Former Director James Gold; Acting Director John Lovell; Collections Manager Anne Ricard Cassidy and her staff Erin Czernecki, Ronna Dixson, and Mary Zaremski; Curators Robin Campbell and Susan Walker; Paper Conservator Michele Phillips; Frames Conservator Eric Price; and Paintings Conservator Joyce Zucker.

The catalogue, which will serve to bring the story of Olana and Church’s view of the Hudson Valley to new audiences long after the exhibition closes, would not have been possible without early support from Henry and Sharon Martin; a grant from Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund; and the guidance of Ed Marquand and his staff at Marquand Books. For their continued support of Olana publications we are grateful to Cornell University Press, especially John Ackerman and his staff. For supporting images we thank: Allison Munsell at the Albany Institute of History and Art; Selina Bartlett at Allen Memorial Art Gallery, Oberlin College; Melissa McCready at the Baltimore Museum of Art; Trevor R. Weight at Brigham Young University Museum of Art; Patricia King at Colby College Museum of Art; Jill Bloomer at the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution; Ila Furman at the Corcoran Gallery of Art; Elizabeth Weinman at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Helena Grubesic at Debra Force Fine Art; Sylvia Inwood at the Detroit Institute of Arts; Marshall Field; Joel Garzoli at Garzoli Gallery; Colleen K. Zorn at A. J. Kollar Fine Paintings; Jamieson Bunn at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Clara Pyo at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Joanna Hanna at Springfield Museums; and Charles Hilburn at The Westervelt Company. For the = contemporary images of Olana included we thank photographers Len Jenshel, Stan Ries, Andy Wainwright, and Nicholas Whitman.

For their advice, support, and encouragement of the exhibition, the Sharp Family Gallery, and this publication we want to recognize the Olana Curatorial Committee: Susan Winokur, Chair; Armin B. Allen; Robin Campbell, Peebles Island Resource Center; Stephen Edidin, Curator of American & European Art, New York Historical Society; Sara Griffen, The Olana Partnership; Mary Ellen Hern, Associate Director for External Relations, The Norman Rockwell Museum; Judith Hernstadt; Frederick D. Hill; Paul Leach; John Lovell, Peebles Island Resource Center; Carri Manchester, Olana State Historic Site; Linda McLean, Olana State Historic State; Amy G. Poster, formerly Selz Asian Art Chair, Brooklyn Museum of Art; Richard T. Sharp; Carol Irish Strone, Carol Strone Art Advisory; and Karen Zukowski, Independent Scholar.

Finally, we wish to thank the generous individual and institutional donors that provided the necessary funds that have made this important book and exhibition possible: anonymous; Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund; Mr. and Mrs. Brock Ganeles; Frederick D. and Eileen Hill; Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission; Mark LaSalle; Paul Leach and Susan Winokur; Henry and Sharon Martin;
The New York State Council on the Arts Museum Program; Open Space Institute, Inc. Barnabas McHenry Award; Eileen Patrick and Jeffrey Ervine; Lou Salerno, Questroyal Fine Art; and Richard T. Sharp.

Treasures from Olana

POSTED ON April 23rd  - POSTED IN On The Road, Past Exhibitions

Landscapes by Frederic Edwin Church

“Clouds over Olana” by Frederic Edwin Church, August 1872, oil on off-white paper, 8 11/16 x 12 1/8 in., OL.1976.1, Collection Olana State Historic Site, NYS OPRHP

Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) was probably the most renowned American artist of the Civil War era. Trained by Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School of landscape painters, and stimulated by the writings of the famed explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, Church early demonstrated immense talent and global curiosity. He traveled extensively, and in his New York City studio painted monumental pictures of subjects in North and South America, the sub-Arctic, Europe, and the Near East. From the late 1850s to the 1870s, he displayed his most ambitious canvases as quasi-theatrical events, drawing thousands of people in America and Great Britain to his exhibitions, and marketing many of his works in fine engravings and lithographs.

Church amassed wealth sufficient to design and build a large estate, called Olana, in upstate New York for himself and his family, and his prominence was such that in 1870 he was both elected a founding trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and appointed to the Board of the New York City Parks Commission. Though his reputation subsequently faded, Church and his art enjoyed an enthusiastic revival in the second half of the twentieth century. His works now enhance the collections of museums throughout the United States and in Europe, and have been the subject of many exhibitions.

As striking in their way as any of Church’s major paintings are his small oil studies and sketches, many executed wholly or partly in the field and several in the studio as designs for the major works. During his residence at Olana, Church framed many of those pictures, including a few large paintings, expressly for presentation in his home, and over a hundred others remain preserved there. Treasures from Olana represents a small selection of the finest of Church’s sketches and studies from the house—most of them he is known to have displayed on its walls—as well as Olana’s most important large painting, El Khasné, Petra. In 1875 he made El Khasné a gift to his wife, Isabel, and installed it over the fireplace in the Sitting Room.

See the Treasures exhibition on Facebook, click here.

Olana organized this traveling exhibition of Olana’s masterpieces which toured 6 venues from June 2005 through June 2007.

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