Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Exhibition highlights art from Arthur B. Davies, dance from Isadora Duncan

A new exhibition at the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College combines never-before-exhibited artwork with internationally-renowned dance.

Lori Belilove, artistic director of the Isadora Duncan Dance Company,
explains the dance-centered artwork of Arthur B. Davies.
On Friday, the Maier will open Modern Movement: Arthur Bowen Davies Figurative Works on Paper from the Randolph College and Mac Cosgrove-Davies Collections. The Isadora Duncan Dance Company will be on hand to explain and demonstrate the dance poses depicted in many of Davies’ works.

“The art would be great alone, but introducing the dance aspect makes it more meaningful,” said Martha Johnson, director of the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College. “This is interdisciplinary programming in action. That is always at the core of the liberal arts experience.”

Modern Movement

Exhibition Opening
When: Friday, Jan. 18, 6–8 p.m.
Where: Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College
Featuring art and dance interpretation by the Isadora Duncan Dance Company.
Free and open to the public

The Art of Isadora

Lecture and dance performance by the Isadora Duncan Dance Company
When: Saturday, Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Smith Hall Theatre
Tickets: $5 (free for students)

Davies was an American who is best known for his role in The Armory Show, an avant-garde exhibition that broke ground for modern art in America in 1913. Davies was the primary curator of the show, officially titled  the International Exhibition of Modern Art, and organized it with other American artists who wanted to see something new in American art.

“The academic training for artists had just gotten to be very predictable, so they were trying to breathe new life into the art scene in this country,” Johnson said. “People were tired of the tried and true, and they were looking for something new, something that was unique and creative, and about ideas.”

The exhibition shocked and scandalized many viewers because of the non-traditional nature of the art, which included cubist, surrealist, styles. But it also had its intended effect, ushering in a period of modernism in American art.

At the same time, Isadora Duncan was working to restore ballet from mere entertainment to an art form focused on beauty and natural movement. Occasionally, Davies drew inspiration from Duncan, attending her performances and sketching the dancers. Dancers were the subject of many of his works.

Many of Davies’ figure drawings featuring dancers were purchased by an art collector named Lillie P. Bliss. Her family donated much of her artwork to the College in 1949 after her death, making the College the custodian of one of the largest Davies collections in the country.

For decades, the Davies pieces from that gift remained in the College’s archives. Ten years ago, several pieces underwent conservation treatments to preserve them and allow them to be used in an exhibition. Several years later, the artist’s great-grandson Mac Cosgrove-Davies and Maier staff members began planning an exhibition to mark the centennial of the Armory Show.

The exhibition includes more than 70 works by Davies from the College’s collection and from Cosgrove-Davies’ private collection.

In addition to providing demonstrations at Friday’s exhibition opening, the Isadora Duncan Dance Company will present a concert in Smith Hall Theatre on Saturday. During the week, the dance company members are participating in a residency to teach techniques to Randolph dance students.