Explore the Hudson Valley

Experience The Hudson Valley

Mastering Light: From the Natural to the Artificial

  |   April 7, 2014  |  Comment

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – What impact has light had on art? A new exhibition, curated by the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, explores artistic responses to light by European and American artists from the 16th through the early 20th centuries. Mastering Light: From the Natural to the Artificial will be on view from April 11 through June 29.

Lighted candles, electric lamps, a full moon, starlight, and the brilliant rays of the sun attract the eye with their magnetism. Artists throughout the centuries have used these attention-getters as pictorial devices and potent metaphors.

“They have literally turned the eyes of viewers and, in effect, left us with not only arresting works of art but also with a deeper understanding of aesthetic, social, and technological histories of lighting,” says Patricia Phagan, the Philip and Lynn Straus Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Art Center.

Visitors to Mastering Light will take a journey from natural light to nocturnal light and, finally, to artificial light as they move through the temporary exhibition galleries devoted to this show.

With a selection of forty-nine works, including paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints and photographs, Mastering Light is part of a recent and growing body of museum exhibitions and literature on the study of artistic reactions to artificial light and to nocturnal scenes.

This particular exhibit is a first of its kind in terms of the wider historical range of works included. Works were selected from the Art Center’s permanent collection and borrowed from the Museum of Modern Art, the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University, the Library of Congress, and two private collections.Mastering Light features works by such famed artists as Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), Edvard Munch (1863-1944) and Edward Hopper (1882-1967).

The exhibition opening event on Friday, April 11, will feature a lecture by William C. Sharpe, author of the book New York Nocturne: The City After Dark in Literature, Painting, and Photography, 1850-1950 (Princeton, 2008), at 5:30 pm in Taylor Hall. This will be followed by a reception at 6:30 pm in the Art Center’s Atrium. 

Mastering Light is sponsored by the Evelyn Metzger Exhibition Fund.

Exhibition Special Events

Opening event:

Friday, April 11

Taylor Hall, Room 102


Other events:

Thursday, April 24

4:00 pm

Curator’s Gallery Talk:Mastering Light: From the Natural to the Artificial

Join curator Patricia Phagan in the galleries for an informal discussion of the exhibition Mastering Light: From the Natural to the Artificial. You’ll enjoy a unique curatorial perspective on the show as a whole and have the chance to explore some of the works in detail.

Saturday, April 26

1:30–4:00 pm

Family Day

Families are invited to enjoy a fun afternoon of activities. Participants can explore the galleries and join in special art-making activities and kid-friendly tours that focus on how artists have used and depicted daylight, moonlight, and artificial light through the centuries. No registration required; just drop in. Best for ages 5–10.

Saturday, June 21

12:30–4:30 pm

Watercolor Workshop for Adults

In this half-day program led by artist and teacher Adele Rossetti, participants will learn the watercolor techniques that artists have used to depict light in its many aspects. The program will include an illustrated lecture and analysis of the watercolor paintings on view in the Mastering Light exhibition, followed by three hours of instruction and painting outdoors on the beautiful grounds of the Vassar College campus. The workshop is aimed at the beginner level, so no experience is necessary–just a desire to explore the world of watercolor. Space is limited and reservations are required. For information about fees or to make a reservation, contact Francine Brown at  845-437-5237 or [email protected].

About the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center was founded in 1864 as the Vassar College Art Gallery. Notable holdings include the Warburg Collection of Old Master prints, an important group of Hudson River School paintings given by Matthew Vassar at the college’s inception, and a wide range of works by major European and American 20th-century painters.

Admission to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is free and all galleries are wheelchair accessible. The Art Center is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 10:00am–5:00pm; Thursday, 10:00am–9:00pm; and Sunday, 1:00–5:00pm.

For additional information, the public may call (845) 437-5632 or visit fllac.vassar.edu.

Directions to the Vassar campus, located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY, are available at www.vassar.edu/directions.

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