Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, Munch, and Hopper each addressed the problem of light from a unique perspective. One new exhibition provides a fascinating and broad look at artistic renderings of light through paintings and print works from history’s great artists.
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, will soon debut a survey exhibition that chronicles artists’ approach to light through history. “Mastering Light: From the Natural to the Artificial” brings together works from a diverse group of artists one would not normally see displayed together — European and American artists from the 16th to the 20th centuries, all united under the theme of light.
Charles Courtney Curran, “Shadow Decoration,” 1887, oil on canvas. Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Purchase. Digital image © All rights reserved by Vassar College Media Relations
Edward Hopper, “Night Shadows,” 1921, etching on dark cream wove paper Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Gift of Julia C. Van de Water, in memory of her father C.K. Chatterton. Digital image © All rights reserved by Vassar College Media Relations
Such an essential problem as how one renders lighting effects has remained a source of inspiration for artists from the Renaissance onward. In “Mastering Light,” one has the opportunity to see how approaches to light have varied across time and cultures. The show comprises 49 paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints, and photographs, drawn from the Art Center’s permanent collection and on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, among other prestigious institutions.
Clarence Kerr Chatterton, “Gathering in a Park,” 1914, oil on canvas. Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Anonymous gift, in honor of Louise Boyd Lichtenstein Dale and Margaret Pollard Smith. Digital image © All rights reserved by Vassar College Media Relations
The exhibition is not organized chronologically but topically, separating scenes of Natural Light, Nocturnal Light, and Artificial Light. The first group features Old Master prints from the likes of Dürer and Rembrandt, as well as paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby, Edward Lear, Charles Courtney Curran, Clarence Kerr Chatterton, and Maurice Denis. Nocturnal Light is represented by print works from the dark Romantics Francisco de Goya and John Martin, and paintings by Robert Henri, Edvard Munch, and George Romney. Prints from Rembrandt, William Hogarth, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Edward Hopper anchor the section on Artificial Light.
“Mastering Light” will remain on view through June 29. To learn more, visit the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center website.