Kennedy Museum of Art

Ohio University - Lin Hall - The Ridges - Athens, OH



Small Bronzes by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (1880 - 1980)


European-influenced figurative sculptures grace the galleries of Ohio University's Kennedy Museum of Art in the exhibit "Small Bronzes by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (1880 - 1980)" which may be viewed through November 11, 2001.

Harriet Frishmuth is perhaps most well known for her sensitive rendering of lithe female forms in extended poses. Dancers were her favorite models. Her most important model was the noted dancer Desha, who was known among artists for her ability to hold difficult poses. Frishmuth was one of many American and European artists who flocked to Paris in the early part of the twentieth century to study at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts. The term Beaux-Arts style is often used to describe the complex Parisian-influenced art of the period. (left: "The Dancers," 1921)

Frishmuth often modeled her subjects both as over life-size versions and as small bronzes. Perhaps her finest masterpiece is The Vine, an over life-size bronze in the American wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Two small versions of The Vine from the collections of Yale University Art Gallery and Brookgreen Gardens are on display in the Kennedy Museum of Art exhibition.

Two important developments affecting the work of Beaux-Arts sculptors were the revival of interest in Renaissance art and the popularity of bronze statuary to decorate the gardens of wealthy estates. Frishmuth's large bronzes often became focal points for elaborate garden settings. Her small bronzes were avidly sought after by private collectors and by museums.

The last two major exhibitions of Frishmuth's work were in New York City in 1929, although she remained active in the art world for decades afterwards. She was finally forced to give up sculpting after she tore the ligaments of her shoulder in a fall. She died in Connecticut over New Year's in 1980, at the age of 99. The Kennedy Museum exhibition is a major retrospective showing of her work that brings together for the first time the finest of her small sculptures from the peak decades of her long career. (left: "The New York Academy of Medicine Medal," (verso), 1931)

Curated by Kent Ahrens, Small Bronzes features 31 bronzes from eleven institutions or private collectors. A catalog is available. The exhibition was funded through the generosity of Ursula D. Lawson, Emeritus Professor of German, Ohio University, and Mr. John Alden in memory of Marion Alden, with additional support from the Ohio Arts Council.

The Small Bronzes exhibition is on view from September 8 - November 11 at the Kennedy and then travels to the Minnesota Museum of American Art, Saint Paul, Minnesota, where it will be on view from December 15, 2001 - February 15, 2002.


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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 6/3/11

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