The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill will present the first comprehensive survey of the artist William Glackens' work since 1966. It will be on view from from July 20 through October 13. The exhibit, William Glackens, encompasses the entire span of Glackens’ career from his origins as a painter of the Gilded Age in the 1890s through the 1930s. More than 70 important paintings and works on paper from some of America's finest private and public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, the National Gallery of Art, and the Cleveland Museum, among others, will be on view. Several works in the exhibition are on view to the public for the first time since 1966.
William Glackens, is a collaborative endeavor by the Parrish Art Museum; Nova Southeastern University Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale (where the it was on view earlier this year); and the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia (where the exhibition will also travel). The exhibit spans the full career of the artist, who painted on Long Island from 1911–1915. Curated by writer and art historian Avis Berman, it focuses on Glackens’s most distinctive and adventurous works.
“This exhibition allows the Parrish Art Museum the unique opportunity to collaborate with two like-minded institutions, sharing resources and scholarship to explore Glackens’s career and impact on art history,” said Parrish Art Museum Director Terrie Sultan. “With masterful work that resonates with our oceanside community, a profound attachment to our region, and a significant contribution to the story of American art, William Glackens reinforces and advances the mission of the Parrish.”
The long-overdue survey introduces Glackens to a new generation of viewers and invites further scholarship on this pivotal figure in the history of American art. The exhibition features touchstones of American art such as Glackens’s Girl with Apple (1909–1910), Family Group (1910–1911), and The Green Car (1910) alongside other key pieces from each decade of his career such as La Villette (ca.1895), Cape Cod Pier (1908), and The Soda Fountain (1935). These important paintings reveal Glackens’s matchless ability to capture people and their surroundings with spontaneity and spirit.
Born in Philadelphia in 1870, Glackens studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. At the Academy and as an artist for the Philadelphia Press, he became friends with fellow artists Robert Henri, George Luks, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan, the core of the group that would later form The Eight as a reaction against the National Academy of Design’s hidebound exhibition policies. The Eight exhibited together only once, in 1908, creating a wedge in the struggle to democratize the process by which artists could show and sell their work. Glackens was on the selection committee of the 1910 Exhibition of Independent Artists, the first large-scale invitational show of progressive artists, and was chairman of the American section of the epochal Armory Show, which introduced European vanguard art to this country in 1913. With these roles Glackens became a powerful advocate for landmark exhibitions of the American and European avant-garde.
Glackens was also a tastemaker, influencing Albert C. Barnes, the Philadelphia chemist who became a self-made millionaire in the early twentieth century and wanted to collect great art. He attended Philadelphia’s prestigious Central High School with Barnes, and when they renewed their friendship in 1911, Glackens became his first advisor and guided him toward an appreciation of modern French painting. The artist traveled to Paris on a buying trip for Barnes in 1912 and returned with works by Paul Cézanne, Maurice Denis, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro and Pierre Auguste Renoir. These purchases became the nucleus of Barnes’s fabled collection. The two men remained close, and Barnes became his loyal and most important patron. Barnes found Glackens indispensable, stating, “The most valuable single educational factor to me has been my frequent association with a lifelong friend who combines greatness as an artist with a big man’s mind.”
A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue, published by Skira Rizzoli, has been edited by Avis Berman, who also contributed several essays to the publication. Alicia G. Longwell, The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator, Parrish Art Museum, contributed the essay, “Scenes at the Shore: Glackens’s Summers by the Sea,” to the catalogue.
In addition to essays and entries on select works, the publication includes the first complete exhibition history on the artist, a critical contribution to Glackens scholarship.