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Welcome

Since its founding in 1962, the Friends of the Davison Art Center (FDAC) has been devoted to the growth and public enjoyment of the DAC collection through a wide variety of events for both its members and the greater community.  The primary mission of the FDAC is to expand and promote the Davison Art Center collection at Wesleyan University.  Learn more about the FDAC here.

Become a Friend

Please join the Friends!  As a member, you support the acquisition of new works for the DAC collection.  With a volunteer Board of Directors and minimal overhead expense, the FDAC directs a high percentage of its membership dues directly to its mission.  Wesleyan students can join the FDAC free of charge – click here to become a student member today!

 

Contributed by FDAC Board Member Sharifa T. Lookman ’17

One of the most important things I have learned as an art history major is that reproductions of artwork, whether in books or online, will never capture even a fraction of an artwork’s identity. A reproduction can’t convey the physicality of an object, especially its size, texture, and imperfections. This week I had the privilege of going behind the scenes to view a recent acquisition of the Davison Art Center, Anne Allen’s color etching, Fantasy Flower Design, ca. 1796 from Cahier No. 2 of Nouvelle Suitte de Cahiers de fleurs idèale à l’usage des déssinateurs et des Peintres.

Though etched and printed by Anne Allen, the design was by Jean-Baptiste Pillement, a mid-to-late eighteenth-century French painter and designer best known for his landscapes and decorative floral compositions. Praised for his refined taste and Rococo style, Pillement is known as one of the developers of “chinoiserie,” a mode of Western decoration that used exotic and fantastic imagery. Pillement traveled all across Europe and subsequently collaborated with many printmakers. It was through these exchanges that Pillement met Anne Allen, a young printmaker who was working in London. The two artists married and formed an artistic collaboration in which Allen etched Pillement’s designs. Allen herself is a rather mysterious figure: little is know about her, although 47 etchings are attributed to her. anne-allen-detail1

Though we lack biographical information, we have great scholarship about the printing technique. The method of color printing that Allen used was new and exciting for the time. This process involves applying different hues of ink to selected portions of each etched plate using a dauber, a tool with a round head and straight handle. Inspired by the shape of the dauber, the technical term used for this method is à la poupée, French for “with the doll.” This method allows two or more colored inks to be applied to different parts of a single etched copper plate, The surface of the plate is then wiped clean, leaving the ink in the etched lines. Each inked plate then goes through the press once. Allen used two plates to print this etching in a total of six colors. anne-allen-detail2

These techniques lend themselves to analysis of Fantasy Flower Design itself. After looking at the print up close with a magnifying glass it became apparent that the green color of the stems and leaves was printed from the second plate and the color of the flowers was printed from the first plate. This is particularly evident in the yellow ochre flowers, in which the green seeds are clearly overlapping the petals. The discrepancies and details of this layering can also be seen in the stem of the pink flowers, in which the green slightly overlaps the petals. The mark-making is eyelash thin and expertly constructs the lampshade forms of the bellflowers with crosshatching, in turn creating volume. Additional depth is created through tonal shifts, where the background blossoms are depicted in a neutral green while those in the foreground are of variant colors and therefore more detailed. In contrast to the more labored rendering of the flowers, some of the vegetation is depicted in a mere stroke. Perhaps most beautiful to me were the imperfections in the coloring of the plate tone, meaning the leftover ink that was not completely removed when the plate was wiped. A greenish blue hue, the background is uneven. One can see subtle variation due to the fiber of the paper. Details such as these are beautiful, intriguing, and only found when scrutinized up close.

Though at first glance simple and contained, this piece is in fact distinguished and dynamic, proving to be an excellent addition to the Davison Art Center collection. This work is representational not just of flowers, but also of the exploration and vitality of printmaking in an important time in the history of art.

Anne Allen (British [English], active 1790s), Fantasy flower design. Color etching. John E. Andrus III (B.A. 1933) Fund and the Friends of the Davison Art Center funds, 2013.

Anne Allen (British [English], active 1790s), Fantasy Flower Design. ca. 1796, from Cahier No. 2, of Nouvelle Suitte de Cahiers de fleurs idèale à l’usage des déssinateurs et des Peintres. Color etching. John E. Andrus III (B.A. 1933) Fund and the Friends of the Davison Art Center funds, 2013. (copy photo: R. J. Phil)

The Friends of the Davison Art Center coordinate the second student-curated exhibition of work created by current students. Addison McDowell ’16 will serve as curator, guided by Sasha Rudensky, Assistant Professor of Art and Friends of the Davison Art Center board member.
Jim Dine (American 1935 - ). Tool Box IX,  Screenprint and collage. 1966

Jim Dine (American, born 1935) . Tool Box IX, Screenprint and collage. 1966. Gift of Ruth and Jack L. Solomon, M.D., 1984. © Copyright Jim Dine

Inspired by the works of Jim Dine in our collection, students will investigate artist’s tools for this show. Tools are objects that were created to be used, and for many, it would be impossible to make art without them. The experience of using a tool can be an incredibly intimate and exciting one. Each tool contains the implication of human use: they were intended to work in our hand. Some tools have been refined through centuries of use and have incredibly economic, efficient forms. Others, by contrast, still have many quirks. News tools, particularly digital ones, can be incredibly difficult to learn and frustrating to use, but it may be all the more satisfying when fluency is achieved.

Eight student artists are exploring a wide range of tools from pencils and erasers, to Photoshop and the printing press. Some are studying the formal beauty of their object and are immersing themselves in specificity: its form, function, and manner of use. Others are considering their tool as a departure point for a broader meditation on the themes of alteration, control, and influence. Still others are using their tool as an entrance to the historical practice of creation.

Featuring the work of Lydie Blundon ’16, Harrison Carter ’17, Miles Cornwall ’15, Molly Grund ’16, Samantha Ho ’16, Isaac Pollan ’15, Evan Ortiz ’16, and Virgil Taylor ’15.

Join us:
Opening Reception: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 from 5pm to 7pm
Davison Art Center, Hallway Gallery

Exhibition open:
Tuesday, November 18 through Sunday, December 7, 2014
(closed November 25 through December 1 for Thanksgiving)

Reflections by Tess Altman ’17, volunteer in the FDAC Docent Program

Note: The FDAC Docent Program has been a stronghold within the Friends’ mission for over four decades. Each fall, FDAC docents (both Wesleyan students and other members of our community) give tours of the DAC gallery exhibitions and other Wesleyan spaces to fourth graders from Middletown-area schools.

Exhibit One — Call to Action: American Posters in WWI

  1.  The gold shield with an eagle on it is in fact a very very large quarter.
  2. Advertisements sell us “cheap stuff.”
  3. As we leave the DAC, it is raining and therefore we must shriek and scream bloody murder — it only makes sense, really.

Exhibit Two – A World of Dreams: New Landscape Paintings by Tula Telfair

  1. Sometimes icebergs look like pizza. Sometimes everything looks like pizza when it’s almost lunchtime.
  2. The fight for a certain colored pencil is respectful, but intense.

Exhibit Three — Center for East Asian Studies: Not of This World

  1. When told to picture one’s “happy, relaxed place” in the meditation room, that location is often a fast food chain — sometimes it’s McDonalds, other times it’s FroyoWorld. One day you might meditate to a Big Mac and the next to sprinkles and Oreo crumbs.
  2. We like ghosts. Ghosts are cool.
  3. I draw a pretty mean smiley face (or so I hear).
  4. Eleven year olds can go to college and therefore could hypothetically go to Wesleyan. But only if one is a ‘child prodigy’
Am I a child prodigy? Nope.
Am I Eleven? Nope.
Am I Eighteen? Close.
Am I Nineteen? Yes.
Do I live here (in the Tatami Room)? No. I wish.                                                       

 

If I did live there, I could perpetually dream of frozen yogurt and French fries, but, alas, I only get to dream like this once a week — with fourth graders.

 

IMAGE: Tula Telfair, “Civilization Could Not Do Without It,” 2014, oil on canvas, 75 x 100 inches.

Tula Telfair, Civilization Could Not Do Without It, 2014, oil on canvas, 75 x 100 inches. Currently on view in Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan through December 7.
Click here to learn more about the exhibition.

 

 

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