Many people might not suspect just how extensive are the art holdings of the Canton Museum of Art. The museum’s permanent collection contains more than 1,200 diverse works of art valued at more than $19 million.
Many people might not suspect just how extensive are the art holdings of the Canton Museum of Art.
The museum’s permanent collection contains more than 1,200 diverse works of art valued at more than $19 million.
The collection has a specific focus on American watercolor paintings, with superb examples by Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton and John Singer Sargent, as well as lesser-known artists.
Contemporary ceramics, from the 1950s onward, is the collection’s second focus and that quantity is ever-growing.
The permanent collection is being given an impressive showcase with the engaging new exhibition titled “Body Language,” which brings together 50 museum-owned figurative works in a range of media.
Artists represented in the show, on view through March 4, include Benton, Mary Cassatt, Red Grooms, Dean Mitchell, Philip Pearlstein, August Rodin, Raphael Soyer and Clyde Singer. There are paintings, drawings, prints and ceramic sculptures, each depicting elements of pose, posture, gesture and facial expression.
And the subjects aren’t all human. “The rat has an attitude,” says Lynnda Arrasmith, the museum’s curator of collections, referring to a recently acquired ceramic sculpture titled “Rat Jacket” by Columbus artist Juliellen Byrne. A large, expressive fish is the main character in a witty lithograph by Mabel Dwight.
“Body Language” is the latest in a string of themed shows that Arrasmith has compiled to spotlight and circulate the permanent collection. “Lynnda has done a phenomenal job,” says M.J. Albacete, the museum’s executive director. “Her shows are constantly surprising to me.”
As visitors to “Body Language” will discover from reading the artwork’s labels, many pieces in the show were gifts to the museum, or purchased with funds given to the museum specifically for the purchase of art. Donations of actual artwork sometimes are accepted, but the pieces must fall within the museum’s specific collecting focus.
From 2009 to 2011, a number of museum-owned artworks from Europe were sold at auction here and abroad, some through Christie’s in London. The money raised will be used to purchase American artworks appropriate to the collection.
“Building a strong, vital permanent collection is central to fulfilling the dream of the museum’s founders, living up to the commitment of our community and building a lasting legacy for the future,” says Arrasmith.