Published: December 12, 2000
Frank von der Lancken
NEW YORK CITY, NY. – On January 6, 2001, Hirschl & Adler Galleries will present the first comprehensive exhibition exploring the life and work of the American artist Frank von der Lancken ( 1872-1950). Born in Brooklyn in 1872, von der Lancken was one of the early progenitors of the Arts and Crafts movement in America, an artist of exceptional talent, and an educator of great passion. Yet surprisingly, his life and work have sunk into almost complete obscurity in the fifty years since his death.
Von der Lancken’s training and experience equaled that of any of the top artists of his day. He studied, and later taught, at the most progressive art schools in America; he traveled aboard and trained at the Parisian academies; he participated and won medals in some of the premiere exhibition showcases of his day; and he associated with many of the leading figures in the popular Arts and Crafts movement.
Von der Lancken actively participated in the art clubs and guilds of the communities in which he lived, and achieved considerable professional prominence wherever he went. In many ways, he was at the very forefront of American art. Astoundingly, he slipped by almost unnoticed.
Given the depth of von der Lancken’s talent, training, and art-related activity, his relative lack of notoriety may be explained by his marked performance for teaching over selling, and for exhibiting as a means of instruction rather than self-promotion. While happy to exhibit his work, he seems not to have cared whether his paintings actually sold. He was never represented by a gallery, and apparently has no agent of any kind. In fact, the majority of von de Lancken’s oeuvre remained in his possession until his death in 1950. Subsequently, it was carefully preserved by his children and grandchildren.
From the rich cache of works preserved by his descendants, and supplemented by the generous loan of works from the Smithsonian, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and other institutions, Hirscl & Adler Galleries has selected 72 works for “Frank Von Der Lancken: Artist and Educator.”
Using the family archive as a starting point, the gallery has also engaged in the first extensive scholarship to date on the artist’s life and work, following his progress from New York to Paris and back, and onto New Milford, Conn.; Rochester, N.Y.; Chautauqua, N.Y.; Louisville, Ken.; and Tulsa, Okla. The show will be accompanied by a 48 page illustrated color catalogue with an essay on the artist’s life and work, a selected chronology, and a catalogue checklist.
This exhibition highlights the many stylistic facets of von der Lancken’s work, from his early, highly finished landscapes and portraits to his graphic work around World War I, and his later impressionistic landscapes. It shows the artist’s facility in a wide range of media – including oil, pencil, charcoal, watercolor, gouache, and even stained-glass – and his remarkable breadth of subject matter, from portraiture and figure painting, to landscape, still life, and design. Some of the most impressive works show his ability to combine these genres and styles in one composition.
Toward the end of his life, von der Lancken proudly pointed out that his legacy was to be found not just in his paintings, but also in the thousands of artists and non-artists alike whose aesthetic taste and attitudes he enlightened with his teaching, many at the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, NY, where he held the position of director of the School of Arts and Crafts from 1921 to 1936. His legacy of education and artistic expression continues today at the not-for-profit and highly repected Chautauqua Institution through the excellent programs of the Chautauqua School of Art and the Chautauqua Center for the Visual Arts.
“Frank Von Der Lancken: Artist and Educator” will remain on view through Saturday, February 24.
The gallery is at 21 East 70th Street, and is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 5:15 pm and Saturday from 9:30 am to 4:45 pm. For information, call 212/535-8810.
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