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On April 6, we rotated nearly a dozen new works of art into this exhibition—including works by Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth—allowing for all-new connections between pieces and fresh examples of the integral relationship between eye, hand, and mind that is the basis for all art-making. The reason for this rotation is conservation—works on paper are especially sensitive to light, and those with more extensive exhibition histories need to be returned to safe storage—but it also presents an extraordinary opportunity for PMA members to return to the exhibition and deepen their experience.
Masterworks on Paper: Highlights from the Portland Museum of Art presents exquisite artworks from the PMA collection. This exhibition of rarely seen drawings, prints, watercolors, and photographs showcases the myriad ways artists work on paper, highlighting the integral relationship between eye, hand, and mind that is the basis for all art-making. As a result, Masterworks fulfills the promise of art: drawing you in to expand your world.
Showcasing the breadth of the PMA collection, each of the approximately 100 works in the exhibition realizes art’s potential to inspire and excite while collectively demonstrating shifts in cultural and aesthetic trends over the last 175 years. Works by renowned artists such as Chuck Close, Edward Hopper, Yvonne Jacquette, Roy Lichtenstein, Glenn Ligon, and Édouard Manet are at once intimate and astounding, sharing gallery space with lesser-known but equally stunning works from the PMA collection.
Masterworks on Paper: Highlights from the Portland Museum of Art runs through June 5. It is the first major exhibition of Your Museum, Reimagined, the PMA’s multiyear project focused on improved access to and experiences with the PMA collection.
“This exhibition is a rare and truly special opportunity to view many of the PMA’s best works in one place,” explains Andrew Eschelbacher, the PMA’s Susan Donnell and Harry W. Konkel Assistant Curator of European Art. “Works on paper offer a sense of immediacy that creates an intimate relationship between audiences and the works of art. Works such as Pemaquid Light by Edward Hopper—one of the museum’s great masterpieces—present an unparalleled opportunity to experience the artist’s technique and creative energy. The same holds true of watercolors by Winslow Homer and Marguerite Zorach, as well as photographs by Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, and Gertrude Käsebier. These works are seldom on view because of their light sensitivity, but Masterworks provides the perfect opportunity to consider these exquisite artworks together, leading us to discover the potential of art.”
Hopper’s Pemaquid Light is among the most requested works of art by visitors to the PMA. That watercolor, along with several of the works found in this exhibition, are among the 100 highlighted artworks featured in The Collection: Highlights from the Portland Museum of Art, the museum’s first-ever collection catalogue. Others, including superb works by Peggy Bacon, Gustave Le Gray, and John Storrs, provide insight into each artist’s oeuvre, allowing audiences to enjoy intimate moments with art created at significant periods in the artists’ careers and practices.
At the midpoint of the show, the PMA will rotate out a selection of drawings, watercolors, and photographs based on their exhibition history and particular sensitivity to light exposure. This will allow visitors the opportunity to view additional highlights from the PMA’s collection of works on paper.
Masterworks also signals the museum’s commitment to exhibiting works on paper on a continual basis. As part of Your Museum, Reimagined, the PMA will devote a new space in the museum to this area of the collection. Installations in the William D. Hamill Gallery on the third floor of the Payson Building will rotate several times during the year, allowing visitors many opportunities to engage deeply with works on paper from the PMA collection. Edward Curtis: Selections from The North American Indian, opening on February 26, is the first exhibition in the newly designated space.
Edward Hopper, (United States, 1882 - 1967), Pemaquid Light (detail), 1929, watercolor on paper, 14 x 20 inches, 1980.166.