Scale is relative. Large objects loom over us and overwhelm. We shrink when confronted with a vast expanse, real or imaginary. Conversely, as our relative size grows larger, we surround, engulf, and contain smaller forms like a suitcase, a baby, or a grain of rice. Surprisingly, small spaces can also open portals to miniature worlds, while large forms can feel finite and contained. Artists take these effects seriously. Decisions about scale are often the first an artist makes when selecting the size of a canvas or a tool. This exhibition features pairs of works with similar motifs that vary widely in scale. Visitors are invited to experience their own changing perception of relative size and imaginary space as they view these large and small works from the LUAG permanent collection.
Scale Shift: Large and Small Works
Elisabeth Frink: Mountain Hawks and Other Creatures
Prints from the LUAG permanent collection
“I was brought up in the War, and I think I used birds as a vehicle for all sorts of aggressive forms… They became like bits of shrapnel and flying things, you know, with very sharp beaks” — Elisabeth Frink
Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-1993) was not quite nine years old when World War II shattered the calm of her English countryside home. Raised near a military airfield in Suffolk, she experienced horses and birds of prey side-by-side with crashing airplanes and machine gun fire. Frink was part of a generation of sculptors drawn to pitted metal surfaces and spiky, alienated forms that became signifiers of post-war anxiety. The critic Herbert Read dubbed them “The Geometry of Fear” for their powerful apocalyptic effects. From her earliest days at the Chelsea School of Art, London, Frink also made prints like the ones in this exhibition. Starting in the mid-1960s, her tone begins to shift away from the chaos of her earlier work. Using a more naturalistic hand, Frink expresses her deepening concern for the relationship between human beings and the natural world.
Frink is best known as a sculptor of outdoor bronzes. Two of her monumental commissions include Eagle, installed at the JFK memorial in Dallas, Texas; and Risen Christ, for Liverpool Cathedral.
Robert Doisneau: Paris After the War
Selections from the LUAG permanent collection
“They always say that the photographer is a hunter of images. Really, we are fishermen with hooks and lines.”—Robert Doisneau
Considered one of France’s great 20th century photographers, Robert Doisneau (1922-1994) created an archive of 450,000 original negatives by the time of his death. Alongside other noteworthies like Brassaï and Édouard Boubat, Doisneau illuminated the humanity of Parisians struggling to resume everyday life in the aftermath of World War II. Although he began taking pictures at the age of sixteen, Doisneau’s natural shyness led him to prefer shooting objects instead of people. Eventually, he would turn this to his advantage, using the invisibility of the photographer to uncover the poetry of the streets, which would become his lifelong subject. Through surreal and humorous juxtapositions, Doisneau revealed the warmth of city life all around him. As World War II threw Paris into disarray, Doisneau was drafted into the Resistance as a soldier and a photographer, capturing the occupation and liberation of Paris. Perhaps his most famous picture, Le Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville (The Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville), 1950—included in the current exhibition—distilled the romance of the city in the post-war era. His freelance photography appeared in the pages of Life and Vogue, and his work continues to be shown and celebrated today internationally.
The Teaching Museum: Selections from the Permanent Collection
Lehigh University Art Galleries is the Teaching Museum at Lehigh University. With a permanent collection of over 15,000 works of art spanning many cultures and eras, the mission of the museum is to inspire, develop, and promote visual literacy and cultural understanding, providing educational opportunities across all areas of study. Visit the galleries at the Zoellner Arts Center to view selections for the university’s world-class collection, including works by Pierre Bonnard, Wifredo Lam, Charles Burchfield, Robert Mapplethorpe, Pablo Picasso, Romare Bearden, Berenice Abbott, Salvador Dalí, Robert Rauschenberg, Henri Matisse, and others.
The Future is Female: Prints by Women Artists
The Future is Female but so is the past. With or without the visibility they deserve, women have engaged the art of printmaking from its beginning. Technically sophisticated and physically demanding, the art of producing multiple images (impressions) from a single plate (a matrix) takes many forms, including etching, engraving, lithography, woodcut, and silkscreen. The second half of the 20th century witnessed an explosion of interest in the medium’s creative potential. Today many artists embrace printmaking for its ability to create editions consisting of multiple prints of the same image, each with the integrity of an original work of art. This exhibition highlights contemporary women artists in the LUAG Teaching Museum permanent collection, including Faith Ringgold, Janet Fish, Maud Morgan, Matsubara Naoko, Françoise Gilot, Nancy Spero, Marisol Escobar, Bridget Riley, Carmen Herrera, Belkis Ayón, and Käthe Kollwitz.
Pedro Meyer: Truth from Fiction
Pablo Picasso famously declared: “Art is a lie that tells the truth.” Surely, the art of photography – with its mechanically unbiased reproduction of the frozen moment – can’t lie. Or can it? Mexican photographer Pedro Meyer (b. 1935), a pioneer in the digital revolution of contemporary photography, insists that all photographs – manipulated or not – are equally true and untrue. Meyer argues that digital manipulation continues the tradition of so-called “straight photography” in which unwanted details are cropped out, or the photographer directs the scene from behind the camera, asking his subject to step out of the shadows into better light. In addition, Meyer contends that unseen elements like memory or emotion present themselves with a physical reality equal to visible objects. In his photographs, these elements often appear with a clarify that connects his work to the tradition of Magical Realism.