Favorite Works: Collections Highlights

2015-06-04 10.48.35

by Katrina Fausnaugh, Arts Managment Intern

This week, with the current semester coming to a close, and next fall semester’s exhibitions to look forward to, I wanted to give you all a sneak-peek at some of the objects that will be on display in the fall as a part of the Collections Highlights: Recent Acquisitions exhibition! The works of art below were some of my favorites that I had the opportunity to handle, research and write about during my time as an intern here at the Miami University Art Museum, and I’m really glad that visitors to the museum will soon have a chance to see them on display.

“Clown” n.d., Philip Morsberger (American, b. 1933). Oil on panel, Gift of Dixie and Luke Utter. 2014.40

Philip Morsberger :: Clown

I find this painting interesting, in part, because of the artist’s connection to the university. Philip Morsberger was a member of Miami University’s faculty from 1959 to 1968, and is an accomplished and honored artist both here and abroad. Based on what I found out in my research of the artist, Morsberger began as a figurative realist, but transitioned to Abstract Expressionism in the 1970s after dealing with the political turmoil of the 1960s. He responded to such issues as JFK’s assassination, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War. Later in his career, Morsberger returned to figural painting, creating a mythical universe which recalls his childhood memories, filling the canvas with cartoon-like figures against Abstract Expressionist backgrounds. Aesthetically, I think this painting is really cool for it’s use of form and color. Clown reflects Morsberger’s distinct color palette of orange and cerulean, and this painting also references Cubism, especially visible in the arrangement of the eyes and face of the figure. Really though, this image doesn’t do the painting justice. You should definitely take the time to come see it in-person in the exhibition!

“Portrait of Joan Moynagh” ca. 1950, Pietro Annigoni (Italian, 1910 – 1988). Print of crayon drawing by the artist, photo-transferred onto copper plate by the artist’s nephew, Gift of Joan Moynagh. 2014.50

Pietro Annigoni :: Portrait of Joan Moynagh

I think this object is fascinating because of its medium. It is framed just like a regular painting or drawing, and here probably just looks like a sketch on some kind of brown paper. Actually, it is a crayon drawing that has been photo-transferred onto copper; so what you will be seeing in the gallery is actually a copper plate with the image on it. Like the Philip Morsberger painting, it is another work of art that looks a lot cooler in-person! Here’s what I found out when researching the artist: Pietro Annigoni was an Italian artist known for working in the tradition of the Renaissance Florentine masters. Annigoni’s family moved to Florence when he was 15, where he was exposed to the work of such artists as Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, and Rembrandt van Rijn. He continued to study the art of these individuals while attending the Accademia di Belle Arti, where he turned away from the practice of simply copying the old masters, and began to focus on drawing and painting from life. This image is one such life drawing. The woman depicted is Joan Moynagh, a soprano who studied voice in the United States and Italy, and performed extensively in operas and orchestral concerts throughout the world. She was also on faculty at Miami University from 1968 to 1998, as an Associate Professor of Voice.

“Land of the Rivers V” 1993, Hermann Alfred Sigg (Swiss,        b. 1924). Acrylic on canvas, Gift of Daniel H. Sigg. 2014.3

H.A. Sigg :: Land of the Rivers V

If this painting looks familiar, that is probably because it has been on display here at the museum previously! It was one of the paintings included in an exhibition of the artist’s work back in spring of 2014. I absolutely loved Sigg’s work when I saw it in that exhibition, and when I started interning here, I was super excited to find out that MUAM had been given one of his paintings following the exhibit. Based on biographical information I found in my research, it seems like Sigg has a very interesting life and career. A native of Zurich, Switzerland, he gave up his inheritance of the family farm to follow his dream of attending art school, first in Zurich and then at the Académie André Lhote in Paris. After this, he transitioned from representational work to abstraction while an artist-in-residence with Swissair. With the airline, Sigg traveled in the cockpit of a plane on trips between Zurich and cities throughout Asia, making sketches of the landscape below. From this bird’s-eye perspective, concrete forms such as trees, fields and bodies of water became little more than abstract planes of color. To me, Sigg’s work is not only very beautiful, but is also an interesting balance between nature and abstraction, and between more concrete forms and the influence of color field painting.

These and the rest of the objects in Collections Highlights: Recent Acquisitions will be on display in the Walter I. Farmer Gallery of the museum, from August 30 – December 17, 2016. Come take a look!