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Collections & Critiques

By John Wliner

In a recent column which contained a discussion of the students whose works were to be shown in the now current Winthrop House exhibit, I said that some of the men had attained a "more than adequate degree of proficiency in the handling of their mediums." I owe those men an apology and plead guilty to self-inflicted charges of gross understatement. The oils, water-colors, and drawings which form the collection reveal more genuine talent than has been sent in any recent exhibit of contemporary art.

Chief among those whom I offended by describing their proficiency as merely "more than adequate" is John Cumming '41. Certain weakening elements in his large "Oil," such as, an enigmatic source of light despite the presence of a large window in the background, and a failure to give a proper feeling of weight to his seated figures, are reduced to insignificance in view of the comprehensive power of organization with which the entire canvas is handled. The painting is alive; the colors are healthy; and whatever distortion of perspective exists contributes to the vibrancy of the entire piece by supplementing the intense colors which he uses. Cumming's landscape, also an oil, is an excellent example of how an artist can superimpose his own originality upon the technique of impressionism without slipping into the dangerous rut of staleness.

Two nudes by Ted Weren '42 show a well-controlled line together with a great facility for producing a balanced chiaroscuro effect. One of the nudes, which is resolved into a semi-cubistic interpretation of the female body, serves as a fine example of just what lies behind cubism; the figure is handled from the point of view of planes and solids, and the relationship between the parts of the anatomy and the shapes which signify them can be clearly seen.

The landscape by Paul Hollister '41 is a carefully executed oil which shows more skill and technical finesse than originality; but it is a poor spectator who continually demands originality in the paintings which he sees. Honest performance and an intelligent approach have become rare birds these days, but they can be found in the work of Hollister. He is a fine draftsman, and he succeeds in rising above the stage of self-consciousness. The paintings of Elliott Richardson '41 betray a certain naivete of approach, but they are straightforward and clear. Nothing artificial, nothing that might protrude as a deliberate attempt to gain an effect is present. His handling of the water in the foreground of his large oil is to be admired. Fetcher's watercolors, solid but unpretentious, together with a group of sketches by Porges which are successfully impressionistic and mobile, complete the main body of the exhibit.

It is impossible to cover in an intelligent way all of the various aspects of the exhibit which deserve mention. Many of the paintings in the Winthrop Senior Common Room are of an inflammatory nature and will undoubtedly provide much cause for discussion. If they do not succeed in doing this, the fault will be with the spectator, not the paintings.

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