Object of the Month


In this year-long series, Assistant Curator Ted Barrow presents original research and insights on a new object each month, selected from the Museum's robust permanent collection. Complementing this exhibition rotation, Barrow will give a public lecture and gallery talk focusing on the object on view.

January 2018

National Chicle Company
Sky Birds
Commercial color lithograph on paper
Collection of the Hudson River Museum

Between 1933 and 1934, the National Chicle Company produced the Sky Birds card collection. In a format previously reserved for baseball players, heroes of aviation took center stage, with their daring exploits listed on the back of each card. Distributed in one-cent packs (roughly 18 cents in today’s currency), a total of 144 different cards were produced. The first two dozen cards featured World War I pilots, many of whom were members of the Lafayette Escadrille, a notoriously reckless volunteer brigade of American pilots in support of the French. The National Chicle Sky Birds set was a uniquely dramatic and entertaining way to illustrate the recent history of aviation.

  © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial
  Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

February 2018

Joseph Cornell (American, 1903–1972)
Untitled (Hôtel de l’Etoil)
ca. 1953–62
Mixed media collage construction
Gift of the C & B Foundation, 1975 (75.22.2)

Joseph Cornell was born in Nyack, NY, and lived most of his life with his family in a small, wood-framed house on Utopia Parkway in Queens. In the early 1950s, Cornell began a series of works that explored the associations of grand hotels in Europe, a subject that proved quite potent for Cornell, who never owned a passport. Cornell’s practice of showcasing delicate vignettes in small, neat spaces that were suggestive, not explanatory, was influential to numerous future artists and filmmakers, from Robert Rauschenberg to Wes Anderson.

Lecture and Gallery Talk: Sat, Feb 3, 1:30pm

March 2018

Artist and Designer: Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910)
Engraver: John Filmer (American, active 1863–1882)
The Fishing Party
October 2, 1869
Wood engraving
Supplement to Appleton's Journal of Literature, Science, and Art
Gift of Dr. Howard Simon, 2002 (2002.11.03)

Considered one of the foremost painters of 19th-century America, Winslow Homer did not benefit from formal academic training early in his career. Instead, his professional experience as an artist was rooted in freelance illustration work for periodicals such as Harper’s Weekly, Century Magazine, and Appleton’s Journal of Literature, Science, and Art, from which this 1869 image comes. An avid angler, Homer made the depiction of fishing a lifelong artistic pursuit. From his earliest days as an illustrator in the popular press, to his watercolors of fisherwomen along the northern coast of England, to his late oil paintings of the sea, Homer kept his eye trained on fishing themes.

Lecture and Gallery Talk: Sun, Mar 25, 1pm

© 2018 Morgan Art Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Reproduction, including downloading of Robert Indiana works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

April 2018

Robert Indiana (American, born 1928)
Demuth American Dream, No. 5
Silkscreen prints
Gift of Mr. Andrew Lanyi, 1981 (81.11.6 A-E)

Robert Indiana, who is best known for the LOVE insignia, has always had an interest in combining visual art and the written word. In 1980, the artist issued a print series based on his painting, Demuth American Dream, No. 5 (1963), an homage to Charles Demuth’s painting, I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold (1928), as well as William Carlos Williams’s earlier poem, The Great Figure. This tribute, repeating Demuth’s visual language with slight variations, devotes each panel to a different word: EAT, HUG, DIE, and ERR.

Lecture and Gallery Talk: Sun, Apr 15, 1pm

May 2018

Samuel Colman (American, 1832–1920)
Moonlight in Venice
ca. 1885
Ink and wash on board
Gift of the Estate of H. Armour Smith, 1961 (61.13.55)

Born in Portland, Maine in 1832, Samuel Colman moved to New York at an early age, growing up in a literary and artistic environment fueled by his father’s business as a book dealer. His uncle sold art supplies, and it was likely through his family that Colman met Asher B. Durand, under whom he studied painting. At age 22, Colman was elected as an associate member of the National Academy of Design and was firmly established as one of the foremost second-generation Hudson River School painters.

Lecture and Gallery Talk: Sun, May 20, 1pm

  © 2018 Estate of Louise Nevelson / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

June 2018

Louise Nevelson (American, b. Ukraine, 1899–1988)
Sky Enclosure
Painted wood
Gift of John I. H. Baur, 1985 (85.16.1)

Louise Nevelson, born Leah Berliawsky in present-day Ukraine, moved to Maine with her family as a child. As a young adult, she moved to New York City in 1920 to pursue her childhood passion of studying art at the Art Students League. Nevelson lacked the money for fine art materials throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and used wood out of necessity. During a period of urban redevelopment in mid-20th century, her practice of reusing architectural salvage was fostered by the demolition of many row houses and tenement buildings in New York City. At first, Nevelson found wood scraps on the street. By the 1960s, she often purchased secondhand furniture, and by the 70s she had wooden objects made to her specifications. The evolving sources of Nevelson’s materials illustrate her ascent as one of the leading sculptors in America.

Lecture and Gallery Talk: Sun, June 17, 1pm

July 2018

Kimbel and Cabus (1862–1882)
Secretary Cabinet
ca. 1876–80
Ebonized hardwood, tiles, glass, brass hardware
Gift of Mrs. Joseph Lippman, 1973 (73.39)

The New York-based firm of Kimbel & Cabus led the way in Modern Gothic furniture design through the second half of the 19th century. Formed in 1862 by German-born cabinet maker Anthony Kimbel (ca. 1821–1895) and French-born cabinet maker Joseph Cabus (1824–1894), the firm represented the positive synergy between immigrant craftsmen, many of whom arrived around 1848, and the daring tastes of post-Civil War northeastern industrialists and financiers. The enthusiastic market rewarded their experimentation in tastefully eclectic objects like this cabinet.

Lecture and Gallery Talk: Sun, July 8, 1pm

August 2018

Robert Motherwell (American, 1915–1991)
Summertime in Italy (with Lines)
Gift of Arthur Zankel, 1991 (91.3.1)

Robert Motherwell’s lithograph Summertime in Italy (with Lines), 1966, fuses exterior observation and interior reflection central to his artmaking. As a founding member of The New York School, or the Abstract Expressionists, Motherwell was interested in the subconscious associations with abstract shapes, but also in their formal qualities.

Lecture and Gallery Talk: Sun, August 5, 1pm


The New Yorker "Goings on About Town: Above & Beyond" (January 26, 2018)