Art Complex Museum

The Collection


Because of the strength of the original collection accrued by Carl A. Weyerhaeuser (1901 – 1996) and his wife, Edith Greenleaf Weyerhaeuser (1912 – 2000), any additions are made to reflect as close a point of view to theirs as possible. On the other hand; here we are in a very different era in the art world, where highly non-traditional art, outsider art, digital art and even questionable art are part of the norm. Although art in traditional forms, as it is generally represented at the ACM, is quite accessible, it does takes careful consideration before any objects become likely choices for the permanent collection. Any donation also requires the owner to obtain a professional appraisal before the transaction is finalized. This process is required by IRS tax laws regarding gifts to nonprofit museums.

The ACM has acquired objects of great quality and relevance from regional galleries and artists, many of whom have exhibited at the ACM. The museum is also grateful to the many donors for their gifts of art over the years that have further enhanced this collection of worldwide scope.

Most recently, several acquisitions have arrived from individuals who have generously offered important objects, some near and dear to themselves and their families. What these individuals envisioned, in concert with the Weyerhaeusers’ mission, was a home for their treasures. The mission of The Art Complex Museum is to collect, house, protect and display beautiful things for the enjoyment of the public.

Mrs. Robin McGoff of Marshfield, Massachusetts had a vision for her late husband’s sculpture. Crest of the Wave by George McGoff (1927 – 2011) is a brilliant blue outdoor sculpture with curves and movement reminiscent of ocean waves, although it is constructed of square-edged wood. The visual effect is called the hyperbolic parabloid. Sculpture came later in life as a vocation for Mr. McGoff, who had worked as an industrial designer and industrial-arts teacher. Crest of the Wave has been installed on the ACM’s patio.

Mrs. McGoff’s generosity continued with a gift of outdoor sculpture, Trapped Ball, by Massachusetts artist, Dale Rogers and several prints by American, Leonard Baskin (1922 – 2000). Baskin was multi-talented and awarded numerous honors, among them; a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Gold Medal of the National Academy of Arts and Letters and the Jewish Cultural Achievement Award. He had many retrospective exhibitions including those at the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress. His work is in major private and public institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the British Museum, the Vatican Museums and now, The Art Complex Museum.

Mrs. Miriam Blau of Newton, Massachusetts invited the ACM’s collection staff to view a large number of Asian works, mostly Japanese woodblock prints, collected by her late husband, Dr. David Blau. Several were deemed appropriate for the Asian component of the collection. One woodblock print, Winter Moon, 1931, by Hasui Kawase (1883 – 1957) is a perfect addition to another of his shin hanga prints in the permanent collection, Ushibori, 1930.

Mostly for export, shin hanga prints integrated Western elements without giving up the values of traditional Japanese woodblock prints. The two woodblocks were printed at a time when the artist and many colleagues were in the midst of a long recovery from the 1923 earthquake and subsequent fires that destroyed much of their work. Other Japanese prints were accepted as education objects to be used as demonstration works for teaching art history and techniques.

Mrs. Blau also donated a number of Asian art volumes from her husband’s book collection that he studied in tandem with collecting art. Directly related to the permanent collection, these books are an impressive adjunct to the Asian area of the Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Library at the ACM.

ACM volunteer, Cynthia Krusell of Marshfield, chose the museum as an appropriate home for an oil painting, Portrait of the Artist’s Daughter, Margaret, by Anne K. Atwood (1866/7 – 1954). Due to the artist’s connection to Duxbury, this competently executed portrait is a good fit for the set of local works in the collection.

Recent purchases have found a place in two of the collecting areas, Asian art and Works on Paper. To enhance the strong holdings in Japanese ceramics, the museum is interested in representing generations of important potters whenever possible. A vase reminiscent of a folding screen by an active potter, Tomoo Hamada, joins work in the collection by his grandfather, Shoji Hamada, a former “Living National Treasure” of Japan. An exquisite scroll was acquired, “Bamboo and Rock”, painted by Yamamoto Baiitsu (1783 – 1856), one of the most prominent literati Japanese painters who followed the style of traditional Chinese scholar amateur painters.

Tanner

Liz Haywood-Sullivan, Shimmer, pastel on paper

A pastel landscape, Shimmer, by local artist, Liz Haywood Sullivan, satisfies the museum’s goals of collecting more women and regional artists, as well as adding the painterly approach of contemporary pastel. It is the hope of the museum that these recent additions will not only maintain the tradition of the original mission, but also provide a fresh look into the holdings of the ACM.


The Art Complex Museum's permanent collection numbers more than 8,000 pieces. The majority of the collection falls into four categories; American Painting, Prints, Shaker Furniture, and Asian Art.

American Painting

Sanford Gifford - Solitude

Solitude - Sanford Gifford - 1848

Collecting American paintings was a venture in art appreciation for the Weyerhaeuser family. Current director Charles, recalls that his father, Carl, tried to acquire paintings for each of the children, and it is apparent from some of the correspondence that a painting was purchased only if it was found generally pleasing to all.

While the collection as a whole includes fine representations from each of the developmental phases of American landscape painting, with a lesser amount of other genre, several works stand out. Members of the Hudson River School found great inspiration in the close observation of nature and deified it in large-scale paintings. A remarkable early Sanford Gifford, possibly a tribute to his teacher Thomas Cole, is Solitude, painted in 1848. Gifford's evocative rendering of the Catskill scenery, the dead tree in the foreground symbolizing the passage of time, the lack of anything human, lone bird - all denote a superb example of this very American painting movement.

Two giants of twentieth century American art have remarkable representations in the Art Complex collection. The museum owns five watercolors by Charles Burchfield and six oils by George Bellows.


Charles Burchfield - Rapids

Rapids - Charles Burchfield, 1916


Charles Burchfield's early landscapes were inspired by childhood memories and fantasies, and Rapids, one of four painted in 1916, and owned by the Art Complex, shows his expressionist delight in nature's vagaries. The short, staccato brush strokes, vivid contrasts of color and playful use of pattern, visually interpreted Burchfield's poetic and romantic inclinations.


George Bellows - Shipyard

Shipyard - George Bellows, 1916


Painting the powerful Shipyard in Camden, Maine, during the summer of 1916, was a special thrill for Bellows, according to a letter from his wife Emma to Carl Weyerhaeuser, Its hulking "prow flung against the blue sky" harked back to Bellows' whaling heritage, while the theme of the dignity of work, personified by the crowd of energetic laborers was distinctly modern and boldly American.

Please scroll down to view a selection of paintings from the collection.


Insley - Winter Fun

Winter Fun - Albert Insley, 1874


Insley was born in Orange, New Jersey, and spent most of his professional life in the New York area. Studying with Jasper Cropsey and later George Inness, Insley's paintings evolved from early realistic studies to later Tonalist and romantic works, and finally, after 1905 into Impressionistic techniques.



Cropsey - Landscape

Landscape - Jasper F. Cropsey, 1890


The consummate "painter of autumn", Cropsey painted vibrant, bountiful scenes of American landscapes, being associated at different times with The Hudson River School, American Lumiism and the French Barbizon painters. Born in New York, Cropsey trained and worked as an architect before taking up landscape painting in the manner of Thomas Cole. Cropsey spent some years in London, serving as an American Commissioner for the London Exposition in 1862, and acheived notable success with his artistic career. In 1863 he returned to the United States, built himself a mansion on the Hudson and painted rustic landscapes for the rest of his life.



Parton - In the Month of June

In the Month of June - Arthur Parton, 1886


A landscape painter, Parton was born in Hudson, New York, and studied under William Trost Richards, In 1869 he traveled to Great Britain and was enamored of the English and Scottish countryside. He spend his professional life in New York City and was a member of the N.A.D.



Woodbury - Phlox at Ogunquit

Phlox at Ogunquit, Maine - Charles Woodbury


Sargent - The Confession

The Confession - John Singer Sargent, 1914


Carlson - Winter Woods

Winter Woods - John Fabian Carlson


Enneking - Untitled

Untitled - John Joseph Enneking


Symons - Covered Bridge

Covered Bridge - George Gardner Symons


Bunker - Cottage

Roadside Cottage, Medfield, Mass - Dennis Miller Bunker, 1890


Enneking - A Cove...

A Cove, Singing Beach - John Joseph Enneking, 1877


These paintings, and others, can be seen in the 1985 ACM publication, American Paintings, available at the museum.


catalog - American Paintings


In 1997, on the 25th Anniversary of the Art Complex Museum, The Light Beyond showcased select paintings from the collection. The following are from that exhibition.


Murphy - Golden Sunset

Golden Sunset - John Francis Murphy, 1890


Harrison - Moon Rise

Moonrise on the Beach - Lowell Birge Harrison, 1913


Tyron - Dawn

Dawn - Dwight W. Tyron, 1906


Inness - Edge of the Wood

On the Edge of the Wood - George Inness, 1894


You can see the complete exhibition in the 1996 ACM publication, The Light Beyond, available at the museum.


catalog - Light Beyond


The Print Collection

Carl Weyerhaeuser's lifetime interest in collecting was sparked on a bicycle trip to Europe in 1918, where he was exposed to many great prints, The oft-quoted anecdote is that, upon graduation from Harvard, Carl turned down an expensive Packard for a more modest Dodge, so he could make his first print acquisition, Rembrandt's Descent from the Cross by Torchlight. From an early interest in books and book illustrations, Carl developed an appreciation for a wider range of print techniques. The collection formed by Carl and Edith Weyerhaeuser encompasses seventeenth century Dutch etchings and engravings as well as modern Japanese works by artists of the movement known as "sosaku hanga" (creative print); American and European nineteenth and twentieth century etchings, engravings, woodcuts, wood engravings, lithographs, and drypoint; and contemporary prints in a variety of techniques purchased from the Boston Printmakers.

Please scroll down to view a selection of prints from the collection.



Benton

Shallow Creek - Thomas Hart Benton, lithograph, 1939


Bellows

A Stag at Sharkey's - George Bellows, lithograph, 1917


Grant Wood

Approaching Storm - Grant Wood, lithograph, 1874


Manet

Le Philosophe - Edouard Manet, etching and drypoint, 1866


Nason

Mountain Stream - Thomas Nason, wood engraving, 1948-49


Tanner

Christmas - Robin Tanner, etching, 1928-29


Kollwitz

Selbstbildnis (Self-Portrait) - Kaethe Kollwitz, woodcut, 1924


Lewis

Chance Meeting - Martin Lewis, drypoint, 1941


Jongkind

Vue du Port au Chemin de Fer a Honfleur - Johann Barthold Jongkind, etching, 1866


BadminNason

Mill Street, London - S. R. Badmin, etching, 1932


These prints, and others, can be seen in the 1981 ACM publication,

Master Prints: 1850 -1950, available at the museum.



Shaker Furniture

"The peculiar grace of a Shaker chair is due to the fact that it was made by someone capable of believing that an angel might come and sit on it."

Shaker Chair

The common New England slat-back chair, fashioned by the hands of a Shaker woodworker, has become an icon of American furniture design. Shaker craftsman were familiar with that furniture form. It was found in almost every eighteenth and nineteenth century rural New england home. Converts brought these chairs with them as they joined shaker communities. Shaker craftsmen produced these chairs, refining that vernacular form and creating a distinctive , well-built chair that ultimately earned them considerable renown. Chairs were made in nearly every Shaker village for use within their shops and dwellings. Some chairs were sold to outsiders. Mount Lebanon, New York, the only community to mass produce chairs for sale, sold tens of thousands to individuals, families and businesses.

Shaker Chair

The Art Complex Museum's Shaker collection includes a significant number of chairs that were produced in the workshops of most of the eastern Shaker communities. The collection contains examples that present a myriad of changes of chair design in over more than a century of chair production, with particularly good examples of chairs made at Mount Lebanon. The exhibition presents the best examples of chairs in the collection, all produced by Shaker hands between the first quarter of the nineteenth century and the 1930's. This essay explores the history of Shaker chair making and the evolution of Shaker chair design. The production of chairs in Shaker workshops began soon after the organization of Shaker villages. Manuscript journals and account books suggest that chairs were being sold from this time as well. The day book of Brother Joseph Bennet records the sale of 1 great and 6 small chairs on September 25, 1789 from Mount Lebanon. The earliest sales of Shaker chairs occurred between Shaker families and villages. It was not long however, before chairs were marketed to the public, an activity that continued at Mount Lebanon until 1942

Shaker Chair

The first Shaker chair makers made their slatback chairs with turned vertical posts and horizontal stretchers that connected to form a "boxey" frame. The seat stretchers supported rush, splint,cane, woven cloth tape, leather or cloth seats. Several slats connected the back posts above the seat. Rounded finials or pommels, topped the back posts of most Shaker chairs. There are a number of construction characteristics that are useful in determining a chairs community of origin. The chairs produced at Enfield, Connecticut, for example, display a slender symmetrical finial that ends abruptly at a well-defined neck. Those found on chairs from South Union, Kentucky, resemble an "egg in a cup," while those found on chairs from Enfield, New Hampshire, looked like a candle flame.

The majority of Shaker chairs have not as yet been associated with a particular craftsman. Occasional journal entries include the identity of brothers who made chairs and a few chairs bear a makers mark. There are a number of chairs made in Watervliet, New York for example, that bear the initials"FW". The chair making activities of Freegift Wells are well documented in his daily journal. In addition to the details of how he made chairs, his notes include the earliest information on the application of tilter buttons on chairs.

Shaker Chair

The earliest of these chairs where sturdy and practical, but uncomfortable. They sat squarely on the floor, but were unforgiving to the contours of the human body. During the first decades of the nineteenth century, Shaker craftsman made the generic chair more graceful and comfortable by angling the front and back posts slightly back to make the chair more accommodating to the way people reclined as they sat. At the same time they became visually more appealing. Even the rocking chairs benefitted from this change in design.

While a number of subtle variations in the design of chairs can be traced through the years of production in almost every shaker woodworking shop, the most distinct changes can be seen in the produced at Mount Lebanon, New York. That community had the longest era of chair production and certainly the greatest number of chairs where made there.The Art Complex Museum's collection of chairs is rich in examples that portray the range of changes in chair design at Mount Lebanon. Stylistic changes in Mount Lebanon chairs can also be seen in chairs made in other communities.

Shaker Chair

In addition to filling the great need for chairs in a growing community, Shaker chair makers also supplied chairs for the growing markets in nearby towns. The earliest chairs produced at Mount Lebanon were almost indistinguishable from those made by craftsmen in the surrounding region. They were sturdy, serviceable chairs that met the needs of both traditional and communal families. Particular characteristics emerged as the chair industry developed, making Shaker chairs distinctive from those produced in the world. As their religious life became increasingly ordered, many Shaker crafts became more refined and distinctively "Shaker" in appearance. During the first three decades of the nineteenth century Shaker society included eighteen prosperous villages from Maine to Kentucky. Shakers labored to create a heaven on earth and the fruit of those labors was reflected in the fine Shaker products.

The basic "boxey" chair was refined, creating a lighter chair with more balanced proportions. By the late 1840's the turnings of the back posts exhibited noticeable tapering from the seat to the top,lending a more delicate appearance to the chair, both visually and structurally. the finial, one of the most distinctive features, began to evolve from the rounder, more bulbuos shape atop a long, turned neckto one with a more basic and uniform appearance by the 1860's.At the height of Mount Lebanon's prominence as a manufacturer of chairs during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the finial was described as an "acorn" with a rather pointed acorn shape on a well-defined collar.


Sharon Duane Koomler - Curator of Collections, Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, Massachusetts


The collection of Shaker furniture at the Art Complex Museum is widely recognized among authorities for its quality and fine examples of classic Shaker design. The initial interest in things Shaker came from Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Sanborn, whose home in the Berkshires was close to the Hancock and New Lebanon Shaker communities.

Shaker Chair

Mrs. Sanborn became active with the restoration of Hancock Shaker Village through her friendship with it's president, Amy Bess Miller.This interest was passed along to her son Carl Weyerhaeuser and later to his son Charles, the ACM's current Director. Their dedication to the Shaker aesthetic has resulted in a discriminating collection of furniture and artifacts of daily life. The collection currently totals more than 500 pieces, some of which have been unanimously praised and admired, as well as borrowed for important exhibitions and reproduced in definitive books on Shaker furniture.


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The Art Complex Museum / 189 Alden Street / Box 2814 / Duxbury, MA 02331