Seen in the Boston Globe…

Our opening speaker at INANE 2014 is going to be Jessica Nicoll, Director of the Smith College Museum of Art. There’s a fun article in yesterday’s Boston Globe on “Museum Directors Play Favorites,” and includes a selection from Jessica:


Pennsylvania Excavation, 1907, George Wesley Bellows

What one work in our collection do I return to repeatedly? You will often find me — alone or with guests — in our third floor galleries studying this early 20th-century American masterwork.

This is an image of profound change, rich in detail and in ambiguity. It depicts a canyon created in the middle of Manhattan by the excavation for Pennsylvania Station, a project that transformed New York City by connecting it to a national transportation network.

The painting was as revolutionary as the event it portrays, helping to establish Bellows’s reputation as a brash young artist advancing a gritty new kind of realism. When it was first exhibited, it was described in the press as a “great gaping wound in the dirty earth.” Bellows’s representation of the city, with its central void and implication of lives displaced, invites reflection on the costs of progress.

If I remember correctly, Smith acquired this painting under Jessica’s leadership. It belonged to a Smith alum and hung in the dining room of her New York City apartment for many, many years. It now has, as Jessica notes, a place of pride in the Smith collection.

To read the whole article, click here.

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