Making It Modern: The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman Anchors the Addison Gallery’s Fall Season

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Rebecca Mongeon
Addison Gallery of American Art
Making It Modern: The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman Anchors the Addison Gallery’s Fall Season
Three Permanent Collection Shows Will Explore American Art in a Variety of Media
When the Addison Gallery of American Art, located on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, opens its fall 2016 exhibitions in September, visitors will have an opportunity to explore decorative arts, textiles, sculpture, drawing, painting, and photography in four new exhibitions. Headlining the season,Making It Modern: The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman, organized by the New-York Historical Society, opens on September 24 and runs through December 31. Widely recognized for his elegant and spare modernist sculpture, Elie Nadelman is less known for his pioneering interest in folk art. While he first started acquiring works after emigrating from Poland in 1914, his collecting started in earnest after his marriage to wealthy widow Viola Flannery in 1919. By 1924, the couple founded the Museum of Folk and Peasant Arts to house their burgeoning collection of American and European pieces, which numbered over 15,000 objects ranging from furniture, sculpture, paintings, ceramics, glass, iron, textiles, drawings and watercolors, and household tools. The core of their collection was purchased by the New-York Historical Society when the museum closed in 1937. This exhibition, the first to examine the Nadelmans’ seminal role in folk art collecting, will present approximately 100 objects displayed in groupings akin to those in their museum. Several examples of the artist’s sculpture will help to explore the influence of folk art on his oeuvre.
Making It Modern is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue co-authored by the curators, New-York Historical’s Vice President and Museum Director Margaret K. Hofer and Curator of Drawings Roberta J. M. Olson. This examination of the Nadelmans’ collection provides new insights into the intersection of folk art and modernism.
Leadership support for this exhibition has been provided by the Henry Luce Foundation. Generous support has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Greater Hudson Heritage Network, the American Folk Art Society, and Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund. The Addison’s presentation of this exhibition is generously supported by the Sidney R. Knafel Fund and the Bernard and Louise Palitz Exhibitions Fund.
As a complement to Making It Modern, the Addison will draw from its permanent collection for Taking Shape: Sculpture at the Addison, opening September 17. From functional to decorative, roughhewn to painstakingly polished, representational to abstract, this group of artworks is testament to the limitless possibilities born out of artistic explorations in three dimensions. Objects in this presentation range from large weathervanes and carved signs by unidentified artists to small figures by recognized artists such as Malvina Hoffman, Alexander Calder, and Chaim Gross; from ambitious marble, stone, and bronze figurative sculpture by well-known sculptors such as Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Paul Manship, Herbert Haseltine, and Robert Laurent to important contemporary works in a variety of media by Siah Armajani, Louise Nevelson, Martin Puryear, Carl Andre, Carroll Dunham, Mel Kendrick, and Kendra Ferguson. 
Also at the Addison this fall, Manzanar: Photographs by Ansel Adams opens September 1. The exhibition debuts a recent acquisition of fifty photographs by Ansel Adams which document the Manzanar War Relocation Center in Inyo County, California. In 1943, Adams was invited to create a photographic record of this government facility, in which 10,000 men, women, and children were housed in tarpaper barracks behind barbed wire and gun towers. All were of Japanese ancestry, but most were American citizens forcibly removed from their homes and businesses and relocated to the camp by presidential order. While this series includes some of Adams’s signature iconic landscapes, it mostly comprises views of daily life, sports and leisure activities, agricultural scenes, and portraits. An important historical document and work of art, this renowned series touches on a wide range of topics from documentary photography and the politics of representation to U.S. and world history, race, and identity.
Rounding out the fall exhibitions, Eye on the Collection presents a wide range of works, both well-known and lesser-known, from the Addison’s holdings. Paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and mixed-media objects by artists such as Albert Bierstadt, Ilse Bing, Isabel Bishop, Mark Bradford, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, George Inness, June Leaf, Charles Sheeler, Paul Strand, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler are included, inviting visitors to experience anew the wealth of the Addison’s collection of American art.
Fall Programs at the Addison
In conjunction with its fall 2016 exhibitions, the Addison announces the following programs. All are free and open to the public, and all take place at the Addison.
Opening Reception for the Fall Exhibitions
Friday, September 23, 6:00–8:00 pm
Lecture: Self-taught Artist in the 20th Century: Martin Ramirez and His Peers in the Art World with Brooke Davis Anderson, Executive Director, Prospect New Orleans
Sunday, October 30, 2:00 pm
Addison Book Club (ABC)
Join us for story time and create your own miniature 3-D art inspired by Taking Shape: Sculpture at the Addison. Recommended for children 2–8 years old, but all ages are welcome. Children must be accompanied by an adult caregiver.
Sunday, November 6, 1:30–2:30 pm
The Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, is open to the public Tuesday–Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (Wednesday 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. from September 14, 2016–May 31, 2017); and Sunday 1:00–5:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on Mondays, national holidays, December 24, and the month of August. The museum is wheelchair accessible. Admission to all exhibitions and events is free. The Addison Gallery also offers free education programs for teachers and groups.
About the Addison Gallery of American Art
Devoted exclusively to American art, the mission of the Addison Gallery of American Art is to acquire, preserve, interpret, and exhibit works of art for the education and enjoyment of all. Opened in 1931, the Addison has one of the most important collections of American art in the country that includes more than 17,000 works by prominent artists such as George Bellows, John Singleton Copley, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Jackson Pollock, as well as photographers Eadweard Muybridge, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and many more. The Addison Gallery, located on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, offers a continually rotating series of exhibitions and programs, all of which are free and open to the public. For more information, call 978.749.4015, or visit the website

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