Joan Thorne - Light, Layers, Insight
February 1, 2020 - January 3, 2021
The Barry Art Museum is presenting its first temporary exhibition, featuring the complex chromatic work of American abstract painter Joan Thorne. This retrospective, organized by Museum staff, consists of 30 large-scale oil paintings on canvas spanning the artist's career from the early 1970s to 2018.
Trained at New York University and Hunter College under Tony Smith in the 1960s, Thorne burst onto the New York art scene as one of the few women included in the 1972 Whitney Annual show. Solo exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, in the Dominican Republic, and in Puerto Rico followed.
Her instinctive approach to painting has always been energized by a strong sense of place during extensive travel and artist residencies that included a Prix de Rome awarded by the American Academy. Complex layering of shapes and patterns in bright colors characterizes her intuitive work. "It's as if music is playing color," remarked her friend and fellow New York artist Faith Ringgold.
Large in scale, her paintings' strong visual effects both come to greater focus and dissolve when seen up close. A challenge to be captured digitally and in print, they invite contemplation and demand to be seen in person.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog with essays provided by Dr. Vittorio Colaizzi, associate professor of art at Old Dominion University, and Dr. Richard Vine, managing editor of Art in America Magazine. The catalog is published by the Museum, with a foreword by Dr. Jutta-Annette Page, Executive Director.
In celebration of the opening of the Barry Art Museum at Old Dominion University, the new museum will highlight, in an exciting, contemporary building, the private art collection gifted by Museum founders Richard and Carolyn Barry. This exhibition presents several hundred exceptional glass sculptures, paintings, works on paper, historic dolls and automata, most of which have never been on public display.
The collection is especially remarkable for its glass sculpture created by artists important to the American and international studio glass movement of the past half-century, when artists began to make unique artwork using studio-scale glass furnaces and equipment.
The Barry Collection of glass sculpture is strong in works by the early innovators, such as Americans Harvey Littleton, Dominick Labino, Dale Chihuly, Ginny Ruffner, Dan Dailey, Toots Zynsky, Therman Statom and Howard Ben Tré. Czech glass legends Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, who showed the world's artists that large-scale sculpture could be made with glass, are well-represented. Other important European trailblazers are Swedish sculptor Bertil Vallien as well as Italian Maestro Lino Tagliapietra, who early on shared his unsurpassed glassblowing skills with the Americans. Since the early 1990s, the Barry collection has also evolved to include noted German artist Sybille Peretti, the English Luke Jerram and Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, an Iranian sculptor whose work blends her culture's cut-glass mosaics with Islamic geometric abstraction.
The works in glass are presented interspersed with the painting collection, which features significant works by important American Modernists, including Quita Brodhead, Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent, Blanche Lazzell, Alfred Maurer and John Marin. The exhibition also includes 19th-century canvases by renowned, international marine painters, notably James Edward Buttersworth, Thomas Moran and Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen.
A boutique collection of historically important dolls and French automata—kinetic figures engineered to engage in simple, repetitive actions—provides a fascinating subset. These will be on view in a special gallery, including a significant representation of exquisite French fashion dolls. Among these is a rare porcelain doll created by Antoine Edmund Rochard. Its necklace of numerous Stanhope lenses contains microscopic photographs of European sites, set like jewels. Paintings and sculptures provide context for the collection. These include an Ashcan School painting of a girl with a doll by George Luks, George Bellow's portrait of his daughter Jean, and a cast glass sculpture of a child's dress by Karen LaMonte.