Davenport’s Figge Art Museum Opens New Exhibit on American Artist Saturday
By the Light of the Moon, will feature eight extraordinary pieces of American art — some of which have not been on display in more than two decades.
In much the same way the Mississippi River serves as a source of creative inspiration to Quad Citizens, so too did the natural world inspire Ralph Albert Blakelock (1847-1919) to create expressively painted landscapes that have a distinctive otherworldly quality, according to a Figge release.
“As the global pandemic has compelled many of us to connect with nature in new ways, this exhibition offers a glimpse into one artist’s connection to the land,” said Vanessa Sage, assistant curator at the Figge. “From mental illness to rapid fame to intrigue, the dramatic circumstances of Blakelock’s life often eclipse discussions about his art. This exhibition focuses on this complex artist and his work and gives a fascinating look at a life of creative experimentation and artistic resilience.”
By focusing on Blakelock’s artistic development within the context of contemporaries and movements like Romanticism, a movement that emphasized individuality, emotion, and connection to the natural world, this exhibition will offer insight into the artistic practice of this innovative American artist.
Born in New York City, Blakelock, largely self-taught, was informed by a variety of external factors, and he is frequently associated with movements such as the Hudson River School, Barbizon painting and Romanticism. All of these movements embraced the natural world as a source of creative inspiration, and Blakelock also drew upon his experiences with the wilderness in his work.
In 1891, a disappointing encounter with a patron led to a mental breakdown and a short hospitalization, according to an artist biography from the National Gallery of Art. Over the next few years, Blakelock’s behavior became increasingly eccentric, and after another difficult interaction with a collector in 1899, he again broke down. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, he spent most of the rest of his life in the
Middletown (New York) State Hospital for the Insane.
At the Figge, interpretational materials explore the historical significance of the artist’s work as well as his dynamic vision. The exhibition provides insight into the context in which Blakelock created his work including stylistic shifts in American landscape painting that occurred during the late 19th century. Visitors will be able to view that change in landscape painting firsthand by visiting the Figge’s 19th – 20th century American gallery — where work by Blakelock’s contemporaries are on view.
“The paintings of Ralph Albert Blakelock continue to fascinate viewers more than one hundred years after his death,” Vanessa Sage of the
Figge said. “We are thrilled to share outstanding examples of his work from the museum collection, and to give our community insight into the work of this significant American artist.”
In the museum, strict safety precautions are in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Limited capacity means Quad Citizens nearly have the exhibitions to themselves—getting up close and personal with the art, and the artists, who created them.
Sponsored by John Gardner and Cathy Weideman, TBK Bank and KK Runge Associates, this exhibition will be on view through April 25.
Virtual Curator Talk with Vanessa Sage
Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Join Assistant Curator Vanessa Sage as she discusses Blakelock’s dynamic paintings, his place in art history, and his connections to the
National Academy of Design as a lead up to the upcoming For America exhibition.
Family Day – Your Way!
Access Begins February 13
Join the Figge for February Free Family Day featuring activities related to Blakelock: By the Light of the Moon. Your free registration grants your family two weeks of access to a virtual line-up, which means you can choose your day to play! Free family activity packets will be available for pickup at the museum for each registrant that selects them. Online options may include how-to videos, interviews, art projects, performances, discovery prompts, discussion questions, and a free family pass to visit the museum.
To register, visit www.figgeartmuseum.org and click on EVENTS. Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Thursdays; and 12-5 p.m. on Sundays. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made at www.figgeartmuseum.org or by calling 563-345-6632.
Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $6 for seniors and students with ID and $4 children ages 4- 12. Admission is free to Figge members and institutional members and to all on Thursday evenings.