Published: October 21, 2003
The James A. Michener Art Museum is exhibiting “Alan Magee: Three Decades of Paintings, Sculpture and Graphics.” The show will continue through January 25.
Hailed as one of America’s foremost representative painters, Magee has also created a number of highly acclaimed works spanning a broad range of media and styles. This retrospective exhibition includes examples of Magee’s paintings, collages and sculpture. Curated by museum director Bruce Kat-siff, it was organized in cooperation with the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine.
Also featured are the artist’s award-winning illustrations from the 1970s, which were reproduced in Time, Playboy, Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times. A special section of the exhibition will present a selection of monotypes (single impression prints) that were part of a recent, internationally touring exhibition.
Originally from Newtown, Penn., Magee attended the Tyler School of Art and the Philadelphia College of Art. Not satisfied with the abstract example set before him as an art student in the 1960s, Magee was determined to master the basics of drawing and illustration.
Among Magee’s well-known early works are a number of paintings of beach stones discovered on the shores of New England. These meticulously crafted paintings not only reflect his fascination with texture and surfaces, but also a larger thematic interest in mutability and the passage of time. “I like to take a neglected object and draw it with great care,” Magee writes.
In later works, Magee turned from his realist mode to some very different ink and brush pieces, monotypes, oil crayon and watercolor studies. Inspired by Hannah Hoch’s photomontages of the 1920s – both their technical execution and their political edge – Magee began to incorporate elements of collage into his own monotypes in the late 1980s. Increasingly, Magee’s work in collages and monotypes reflected socio-political themes, but with an expansive and broadly imagined approach; as in his haunting procession of monotype faces.
His work has been the subject of several books, radio interviews and television documentaries including the WCBB production Alan Magee, Visions of Darkness and Light. Magee’s works can be seen in many public collections including The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, The Portland Museum of Art, the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Arkansas Art Center, the Arizona State University Art Museum and the Columbus (Ohio) Museum of Art.
Offering further insight into Magee’s work is an accompanying 224-page book, Alan Magee Paintings, Sculpture, Graphics.
The James A. Michener Art Museum, 138 South Pine Street, is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 am to 4:30 pm; Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm; Sunday, noon to 5 pm. For information, 215-340-9800 or www.michenerartmuseum.org.
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