Jan Matulka - Photograph

Photograph of the artist Jan Matulka (1890 1972)

Jan Matulka Houses on a Cove

Jan Matulka
Houses on a Cove, circa 1935, oil on canvas
Courtesy McCormick Gallery, Chicago, Illinois

Members' Reception:
Friday, July 29, 2011, 6-8pm

Gallery Talk:
Friday, July 29, 2011, 6:30pm

Director-Led Tours by Erik Neil:
Tuesday, August 9, 10am
Wednesday, August 17, noon
Tuesday, September 13, 10am
Thursday, September 29, 1pm

Modernist Inclinations: The Art of Jan Matulka

July 29 - October 16, 2011

In the 1920s and 30s, Jan Matulka (1890 1972) was a leader of New York art world promoting new modes of expression based on his experiences in Paris and across Europe. As an artist and a teacher he investigated and advocated Cubism, Surrealism, Precisionism and related movements. He was acutely aware of the accomplishments of his great predecessors like Cezanne as well as cutting edge figures of his own time such as Picasso, Matisse, and Vlaminck. He exhibited widely in commercial galleries and in major exhibitions at the Whitney Museum and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Critics praised Matulka’s paintings and linked him to other American avant-garde artists like Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley and John Marin. Through his classes at the Art Students League and in private lessons he inspired a new generation of artists to pursue abstraction. However after the mid-1940s, Matulka’s career began to decline. He suffered a series of personal and professional misfortunes and stopped exhibiting for about two decades. A reassessment of his position within the history of Modernism in America began with the comments of sculptor David Smith in 1968 who regarded Matulka as his most important teacher and artistic influence. A major retrospective of his work toured the country from 1979 to1981.

The works in the Museum’s exhibition emphasize Matulka’s skill as both a colorist and as draughtsman even as he moved in and out of several stylistic genres. They are drawn from the artist’s estate and private collections. They point to Matulka’s engagement with themes typical of the Modern movement. Although he could alternate his mode of expression with great facility, he returned again and again to a well-established set of subjects. He was fascinated by seascapes and waterfront scenes, but also created expressive images of Paris and New York. He was passionate about music and depicted radios, turntables, and musicians with great frequency. Other subjects like trees seem to have intrigued him for their formal qualities, as he sought to move from expressive representation to pure abstraction.

Modernist Inclinations, The Art of Jan Matulka is underwritten in part by a gift from Mary Beth Cahill and Steve Champlin, PURE and Avon Dixon Agency and sponsored in part by the Maryland State Arts Council and the Talbot County Arts Council. The Academy Art Museum would also like to thank the Estate of Jan Matulka and the McCormick Gallery, Chicago Illinois for their assistance in organizing this exhibition.

Sponsors: Pure, Avon-Dixon Insurance, Mary Beth Cahill and Steve Champlin, Maryland State Arts Council and Talbot County Arts Council, with assistance from the Estate of Jan Matulka and the McCormick Gallery, Chicago, Illinois.

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