Guild Hall of East Hampton is welcoming a new exhibition entitled Recollection: Selections from the Permanent Collection from Saturday, October 21 through Sunday, December 31. Recollection will feature masterworks from Guild Hall’s Permanent Collection, alongside some of the Museum’s rare and unusual works. Organized by Jess Frost, Associate Director and Registrar of Permanent Collection, the exhibition is a fantastic way to close out Guild Hall’s very successful year. This is the first of an annual series that will be drawn from the collection and archives, and coincides with a major digitization project to enable greater educational access to Guild Hall’s notable holdings. A Member Opening Reception will be held on Saturday, October 21 at 5 p.m. and A Gallery Talk will take place on Sunday, October 29 at 2 p.m.
“What is most exciting to me about this exhibition is that it’s a direct reflection of the work we’re doing behind the scenes at Guild Hall,” remarked Frost. “When I was hired as Associate Curator of the Permanent Collection in 2015, our biggest priority was getting all the museum’s holdings into a digital database, even if they were represented by informal snapshots, or scanned images from old files.”
Guild Hall has amassed over 2,400 works by artists associated with the institution and region just 86 years after Mrs. Lorenzo E. Woodhouse dedicated the cultural center to the community in 1931. The Permanent Collection houses paintings, sculpture, prints, watercolors, photographs, and drawings dating from the 19th century through current day by internationally renowned artists such as Thomas Moran, Childe Hassam, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning, Cindy Sherman, Mary Heilmann, and Frank Stella.
“Making this work more accessible has already resulted in a renewed interest in the Permanent Collection from board members, donors, foundations and the public,” she added.
Highlights of Recollection include several significant works that were recently on view as a part of the traveling exhibition: Guild Hall: An Adventure in the Arts, which was presented in fifteen venues throughout the United States. Fairfield Porter’s The Plane Tree, 1964 is an example of a particularly unique work in Guild Hall’s collection. The close-cropped foliage in this painting, combined with the obvious absence of the horizon line, creates a formal relationship to the Abstract Expressionist works in the exhibition, such as Elaine de Kooning’s painting Bacchus #63, 1982. This painting is a part of a series of works that she began in the mid 1970s. It is based on a 19th century sculpture of the Roman god of wine and intoxication. The work moves from figure to abstraction through the fluid and gestural energy of the form on which it is based.
Al Loving was known for his hard-edge geometric paintings, aligned with those of Frank Stella, until the 1970s when the artist dramatically changed course. He began creating banner-like paintings built from brightly colored strips of stained canvas. Born out of his African American family’s quilting tradition, remnants of previous paintings were sewn together on a simple wooden support and hung like banners. This work is revealed in Loving’s Untitled, c. 1975.
Frank Stella’s Lanckorona III, 1971 is rarely seen from the collection. Several works from this series were on view in the 2015 exhibition, Frank Stella: A Retrospective, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. His fabric, felt, wood, acrylic, and canvas construction will be prominently included at Guild Hall.
Recollection is the beginning of a new era in the making of the Permanent Collection that will be publicly searchable and accessible online and through greater exhibition exposure. Jess Frost was appointed as Registrar in 2015 and is the institution’s first Associate Curator of its Permanent Collection. Under the guidance of Museum Director Christina M. Strassfield, Frost began building a comprehensive digital catalogue of the Museum’s holdings, a project that will help Guild Hall share its holdings more widely.
In 2017, Guild Hall received a $5,000 grant from The Robert Lehman Foundation in support of this and future Permanent Collection exhibitions. Guild Hall was one of 75 institutions chosen to participate in the inaugural year of the Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) program, which will fund a comprehensive report to identify the conservation priorities of the Permanent Collection.
Recollections: Selections from the Permanent Collection Gallery Talk with Jessica Frost will take place on Sunday, October 29 at 2 p.m. The tour of the exhibition includes a lively discussion on how the cataloguing process informed the selection of works currently on view. Frost will also share insights and anecdotes found in the exploration process of the Museum’s archives. The gallery talk is free, though reservations are strongly encouraged. To reserve your spot, visit guildhall.org.
Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, call 631-324-0806 or visit www.guildhall.org.