John Himmelfarb American (Chicago, Illinois, 1946 - )
Dos Guise, 1989
Brush, ink on paper
Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection:
Purchased with a gift from Jackye and Curtis Finch, Jr., in honor of Kay and Bill Patton.
The Arkansas Arts Center is proud to share with members a number of major recent acquisitions that have remarkably enhanced the collections. The extraordinary collectors of artist self-portraits, Jackye and Curtis Finch, Jr., have added many more such works to the substantial body of gifts that they have previously given to the Arts Center. The current group of distinguished American and European works given by the Finches includes a monumental self-portrait, Dos Guise, drawn by the contemporary Chicago-based artist John Himmelfarb (born 1946). This boldly confrontational ink and brush drawing from 1989 was recently featured in the exhibition John Himmelfarb: Thirty Years, Shifting Gears, at the Luise Ross Gallery, in New York, where the artist exhibits regularly. Arts Center members will recognize Himmelfarb’s distinctive array of linear styles, since the collection already includes a number of his drawings. Himmelfarb is an outstanding example of the rising importance of drawings, and portrait drawings in particular, for contemporary American artists.
Any history of modern American drawings would have to give a substantial place to Georgia O’Keeffe. From Pink Shell, a magnificent 1931 pastel drawing by O’Keeffe, is one of several major American and European drawings, prints, paintings, and sculptures that have recently come to the Arts Center from the estate of long-time supporters Louise and Fred Dierks. From Pink Shell is a significant addition not only to the Arts Center’s noted collection of modern American drawings but also to American art scholarship. This work was previously known only from a 1931 photograph by the artist’s husband and dealer, Alfred Stieglitz.
From Pink Shell is closely related to the 1931 oil painting Shell on Red, now in a private collection. O’Keeffe made both works after she picked up petrified shells when she was walking near Taos, New Mexico, during a summer visit to the west from her home in New York. She said “Out in those hills I picked up mussel shells in groups all turned to stone- probably millions of years old. They sometimes even had a little of the original blue color. I carried them back.” This brilliant pastel relates in its sensual colors to the artist’s famous flower paintings, while the petrified objects that inspired the artist link the work to the paintings of bones O’Keeffe was beginning to make at the time. The Arts Center has one O’Keeffe drawing in its holdings already, Special No. 30 (Banana Flower), of 1934, but From Pink Shell is the first color work by the artist to enter the collection.
Arkansas Arts Center Permanent Collection
Three intimate collages from John Digby’s (born London, England 1938) series Beside Themselves bring a thoughtful sense of poetry to the Arts Center’s collection. These intricate works from a series of about forty works were created by the British-born collage artist, illustrator, and poet during the 1990s. Digby, who currently lives on Long Island, makes his collages by creating archival copies of nineteenth-century wood engraving illustrations and then cutting up and reassembling multiple images into one. This method allows Digby to, as he says, reveal both the outer and inner lives of the characters pictured. The donor of these collages, Mark Freeman, is a documentary film maker who teaches film making at San Diego State University. These three collages join another Digby collage in the Arts Center’s collections.