Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Building and Survival

Dr. Kurt Lang and Dr. Gladys Engel Lang, distinguished scholars 
in the fields of communication,
 media, and public opinion, and emeriti professors of sociology 
at the University of Washington, Seattle, have promised their collection of prints, watercolors, and
 drawings to SCMA. The core of the Lang Collection—more than 1,400 objects in all—is related to issues discussed in the Lang’s book Etched in Memory: The Building and Survival of Artistic Reputation, and is primarily focused on the painter-etcher movement between the 1860s and World War II. The book seeks to understand the process whereby some artists but not others come to be considered worth remembering, and the Lang Collection is rich in exemplary works by talented, but little-known artists.

Gladys Engel Lang and Kurt Lang with some works from their collection
in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs,
September 18, 2014. Photograph by Lynne Graves.

In forming the collection, the Langs sought to acquire certain pieces in an effort to rescue some artists from total oblivion. Since many women were at risk of suffering this fate, they are consequently well-represented in the collection. Among these are the English artists Minna Bolingbroke, Greta Delleany, Hester Frood, Bertha Gorst, Sylvia Gosse, Catherine M. Nichols, Constance M. Pott, Marion Rhodes, Marjorie Sherlock, and Dorothy Woolard and Americans Mildred Brooks, Gabrielle de Vaux Clements, Blanche Dillaye, Edith Lori Getchell, Bertha Jacques, Katherine Merrill, and Mary Nimmo Moran, among many others.

In seeking a new home for their collection, the Langs were interested in placing it at an academic institution in order to make the resource open to scholars and students. In addition to the works of art, the Lang Collection includes books, research materials, and manuscript drafts related to Etched in Memory and other book projects. Although neither of the Langs has a direct tie to Smith or SCMA, the Museum’s impressive track-record in promoting interdisciplinary use of the collection, coupled with our strong and enthusiastic response to this opportunity, ultimately resulted in the collection coming to SCMA.

Two installations currently on view at SCMA highlight works from the Lang Collection. The works on paper gallery on the Museum’s 2nd floor features works by Constance Mary Pott, one of the most productive female etchers of her time. Pott is credited with over 125 works using a variety of different etching techniques. Brighton from the East aptly displays her mastery of the mezzotint process, which is used to great effect to capture the moody sky and still water of the shore. This image, several other prints by Pott, as well as examples of work by her mentor, the influential printmaker and teacher Sir Frank Short, will be on view at through April 26, 2015.

Constance Mary Pott, English (1862–1957). Brighton from the East, 1907. Mezzotint printed in black on medium weight, slightly textured, cream-colored paper. The Gladys Engel Lang and Kurt Lang Collection. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2014:32-202. 

Additionally, a mobile cabinet on the Museum’s third floor containing images of cities under construction includes etchings from the Lang Collection by Maxime Lalanne and Sir David Muirhead Bone until early June. 

Works on Paper cabinet in the third floor galleries

SCMA is grateful to the Lang family for entrusting this precious resource to our care. Look for more installations of works from the Lang Collection in the SCMA galleries in the future. Cataloguing and digitization work is ongoing. Check our online database for more information.

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