(Doylestown, PA) Molten steel, billowing smoke, soot-covered miners, and the jagged geometry of mills and factories covering vast tracts of land—these are not the usual subjects for artists, but as seen on the canvases in Iron and Coal, Petroleum and Steel: Industrial Art from the Steidle Collection, they can be transformed into objects of sublime beauty.
The installation will be on view from July 11 – October 25, 2015 in the Martin Wing. Iron and Coal, Petroleum and Steel: Industrial Art from the Steidle Collection is generously supported by The Hanigan Family & Pzena Investment Management.
The exhibition, organized by Kirsten M. Jensen, Ph.D., the Michener’s Gerry & Marguerite Lenfest Chief Curator, is drawn from the Steidle Collection at the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery at The Pennsylvania State University. The collection was assembled by Edward Steidle (1887-1977), Dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences from 1928-1953. Steidle purchased and commissioned these paintings to visually demonstrate the various industrial processes and the critical role of the extractive industries in Pennsylvania to his students. The bulk of the collection was assembled during the Great Depression, a time when Americans needed reassurance about their country’s economic stability. Rather than turn a critical eye toward industry, most of the paintings celebrate the state’s industrial power—its gleaming refineries, glowing furnaces, and its proud workers, who rise from the canvas like modern heroes, draped in the tools of their trade.
While there are a few familiar names in the exhibition, such as Aaron Gorson and Rockwell Kent, many of the artists—a significant number of whom are women, and most of whom were native Pennsylvanians—will be revelations. “So much of Pennsylvania’s original industries have long since disappeared,” notes Jensen, “that these paintings are significant historically in providing viewers a unique window into the past. Equally compelling, however, is their stunning visual appeal and dramatic impact, and the collective statement they make about Pennsylvania’s artistic, as well as industrial, heritage.”
Public programs include…
Curator’s Gallery Talk
Wednesday, August 5
Curator’s Lecture: The Industrial Sublime
Tuesday, September 8
By Kirsten M. Jensen, Ph.D., Senior Curator of Exhibitions
Guest Lecture: Steidle’s Vision: Art as Education
Tuesday, September 29
By Julianne Snider, Assistant Director, Earth and Mineral Sciences
Museum & Art Gallery, Penn State University
For registration, more information and fees, please visit MichenerArtMuseum.org