As I toured Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
for the first time, I was in awe. The museum itself is spectacular, and the master works of art housed within it are simply magnificent.
Time and again, though, it was the faces within certain paintings that I found especially intriguing and they kept capturing my attention. I zoomed in on a number of them; a selection of those faces are featured below.
Bo Bartlett's (b. 1950) oil on canvas painting The Lobster Wars
Max Ferguson's (b. 1959) oil on panel painting Time
, 2006, is below. As noted by Crystal Bridges, "Ferguson's subjects are ordinary, working people. In Time
, we encounter a clock repairman sitting among his work. The narrative is compelling: the older gentleman surrounded by clocks that no longer run is a powerful metaphor for the passage of time. In its heyday, this business may have been located on ground level, but as analog clocks became less important in a digital world, it moved up to a less accessible floor. Indicators of modern life intrude - a small television set, window air-conditioning units - but the focus of the image is clearly the glory of the once-grand timepieces and the agile hands of their steadfast and skilled keeper."
Evan Penny's (b. 1953) work titled Old Self: Portrait of the Artist as He Will (not) Be. Variation #2
, 2010. The piece is composed of silicone, pigment, hair, fabric, and aluminum.
Crystal Bridges has a gallery called "Picturing the Artist: Portraits and Homages" in which a particular painting caught my eye. It is Stuart Davis's (1892-1964) oil on canvas Self-Portrait
, 1912. Crystal Bridges notes, "Stuart Davis' early self-portrait presents an aura of danger in the artist's dark demeanor, the desolate streetscape, and the lone woman in the background."
It was prior to the official opening of Crystal Bridges on 11.11.11 that I had the opportunity to take a preview tour
of the museum. During that tour I saw a woman look up, point to a painting, and say, "Twilight." I turned in the direction she was pointing toward and knew immediately what she meant. It is, in fact, almost spooky how much the model in Dennis Miller Bunker's (1861-1890) oil on canvas painting titled Anne Page
, 1887, looks like a slightly older version of Kristen Stewart's
character "Bella" in the "Twilight
" movie series.
And the creepiness does not end there. "Bunker's portrait of Anne Page is exceptional for its elegant composition, technical virtuosity, and the haunting beauty
of the sitter," states Crystal Bridges. After completing the portrait, according to Crystal Bridges, Bunker "wrote to his muse with deep gratitude: 'How great a kindness you have done me in helping me with your patience and beauty to make a picture that has been almost the only loving task of my life.'" Was Bunker "Edward" or "Jacob"?
Marsden Hartley's (1877-1943) oil on panel painting titled Madawaska-Acadian Light-Heavy
, 1940, is very striking. Crystal Bridges indicates that "The painting depicts an unidentified young boxer from the town of Madawaska, Maine. The boxer's neck is a stump-like slab rising out of mountainous, triangular deltoids. It is a body shaped by and representative of a harsh northern environment, where wood splitting is still a survival skill and daily necessity."
Alfred Henry Maurer's (1868-1932) oil on canvas called Café Scene
, 1904, is also one of the hundreds of paintings at Crystal Bridges that is so captivating it is hard to look away. Some of the people depicted in the scene are a soldier, a lady, and a businessman wearing colorful clothing that suits their profession or status. Yet, it is the woman with red hair wearing black whose gaze captures the attention.
George Winter's (1809-1876) oil on canvas mounted on board painting Ten Potawatomi Chiefs
, 1837, captures an event that Winter saw first-hand. According to Crystal Bridges, "In July of 1837, Winter witnessed the council at Lake Kee-wau-nay (today Lake Bruce, Indiana), which was held prior to the forced migration of the Potawatomi Indians to Kansas."
To see all ten Potawatomi Chiefs, the paintings highlighted above in their complete forms, and hundreds of other incredible works of art, reserve a free admission ticket to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art at this website