Installation view: Robert Motherwell and the New York School at Hunter, Hunter College Art Galleries, 2015. Photo by Bill Orcutt.
Robert Motherwell and the New York School at Hunter
Curated by Howard Singerman, Phyllis and Joseph Caroff Chair, Department of Art and Art History with Sarah Watson, Acting Director and Curator, and Annie Wischmeyer, Assistant Curator with curatorial assistance by Jocelyn Spaar, Curatorial Assistant and Irini Zervas, Graduate Fellow
February 12–May 2, 2015
Opening reception: February 14, 5–7pm
Hunter West Building
132 East 68th Street
New York, NY 10065
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 1–6pm
Robert Motherwell recounts that in 1951, Edna Wells Luetz, the newly appointed Chair of Hunter’s Department of Art, reached out to the Museum of Modern Art’s founding curator, Alfred Barr, in search of “a modern artist, and one who is articulate.” This marked the beginning of Hunter College’s commitment to artists as teachers, and to hiring artists fully engaged in the questions of the art of their time. Barr recommended Motherwell, and at Motherwell’s urging, Luetz would bring to Hunter a number of artists associated with the New York School. The artists included in this exhibition are William Baziotes, Fritz Bultman, Richard Lippold, Robert Motherwell, Ray Parker, and George Sugarman. This remarkable cohort defined the fundamental aesthetic and professional ambitions of Hunter’s art department, and affirmed its commitment to creative practice.
In addition to a selection of works by Motherwell and the artists he brought to Hunter College, the exhibition will offer a collection of archival materials to make the case for the aesthetic and intellectual remaking of Hunter’s Art Department. His syllabi and lecture notes and those of others, particularly Baziotes, whom Luetz hired on Motherwell’s recommendation in 1952, document a new thrust in teaching, one that situated the problems of the modern artist at the center of a young artist’s education. Among other archival materials the exhibition will include is an unpublished statement Motherwell drafted in the mid-1950s, entitled “The Aim of the Art Department at Hunter College.”
This unique exhibition documents Motherwell’s role in permanently transforming Hunter’s Department of Art and Art History through the dedicated modern painters and sculptors he brought to the faculty. Through the works of Motherwell and his colleagues, as well as the archival materials assembled here, the exhibition makes clear how intricately interwoven the history of Hunter’s art department and the story of modern art in New York are.
Robert Motherwell and the New York School at Hunter is made possible with the generous support of the Dedalus Foundation.