I recently went to Paris to participate in a discussion about our 2015 exhibition, Man Ray—Human Equations. The exhibition will bring together Man Ray’s Shakespearean Equations, a series of paintings that was inspired by his photographs of mathematical models. Included in the exhibition will be the original mathematical models, Man Ray’s inventive photographs of the objects, and his Shakespearean Equations.
A grant from the Terra Foundation allowed scholars, curators, educators, and exhibit designers to come from Israel, France, England, and the US to refine ideas for the exhibition and its interpretation. Below are some of my favorite photos from the trip. Stay tuned for more details about the exhibition as the show approaches!
For the first day, we met at the Terra Foundation’s Paris office. Check out an initial exhibition design by our colleagues in Israel. Photos: Brooke Rosenblatt
For the second day of meetings we went to the Institut Henri Poincare to see the mathematical objects that appear in Man Ray’s photographs. Some of the objects were on view in the library and others were in storage. Photos: Brooke Rosenblatt
Here is a look at some of my favorite objects that will be on view in the exhibition.
Jacob Lawrence, Bar-b-que, 1942. Gouache on paper, 29 1/2 x 21 1/8 inches (sight); 30 7/8 x 22 1/2 inches (paper). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Fund, 2013.1. © 2013 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, New York.
The exciting news of the Terra Foundation for American Art’s recent acquisition of a 1942 masterpiece by Jacob Lawrence, Bar-b-que (1942), has me reflecting once again on the extraordinary achievement of this artist whom writer Claude McKay called “a peerless delineator of the Harlem scenes and types.” The Terra now has yet another gem among its holdings as this work by Lawrence most certainly is. When you consider that Lawrence painted it just one year after his groundbreaking The Migration Series, of which the Phillips owns half, you can see just how fast that train was moving with the young, aspiring twenty-four year-old artist at its helm. With its jazz-like syncopated rhythms flowing through the complex multi-storied composition, Lawrence captures in Bar-b-que a characteristic moment in the leisure life of the working class Harlem community with which he so closely identified.
Seeing Terra’s latest acquisition by Lawrence also triggered a connection with one of our own Stuart Davis paintings, Corner Café (1930), in which Davis evokes the vitality of Parisian life in the 1930s through alternating rhythmic patterns, calligraphic signs, and bold color. The connection is no accident as Lawrence came to know Davis personally through their shared role as artists on Edith Halpert’s roster for the Downtown Gallery.
Elsa Smithgall, Curator
Stuart Davis, Corner Cafe, 1930. Oil on canvas, 15 x 18 7/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1931.