A Timeless Perfection Opens October 7

Claire Ertl, Director of Marketing & Public Relations
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Kaitlyn Zurcher, Manager of Communications
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A Timeless Perfection Opens October 7

GREENSBURG, Pennsylvania (Tuesday, September 12, 2017) – A Timeless Perfection: American Figurative Sculpture in the Classical Spirit – Gifts from Dr. Michael L. Nieland to The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, an exhibition of 57 sculptures, opens on Saturday, October 7, 2017 and will remain on view at the Museum through December 31, 2017. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, October 7 from 6:30–8pm. To purchase tickets, one may visit thewestmoreland.org/events or call 1.888.71TICKETS ($15 members, $20 non-members). Additionally, a gallery talk with Bruce Weber, author of the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, and Dr. Michael L. Nieland, the collector donating the works to the Museum, will take place on Saturday, October 7 at 1pm. To RSVP for this free lecture, also visit thewestmoreland.org/events.

This exhibition celebrates the transformational gift from Dr. Nieland to the Museum in 2015 of nine late 19th and early 20th century figurative sculptures with an additional 48 sculptures to be given in 2018. This gift, which includes such notable artists as John Talbott Donoghue, Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, Malvina Hoffman, Mario Korbel, Boris Lovet-Lorski, and Adolph Alexander Weinman, together with 28 others, not only adds new names to the permanent collection but significantly enriches and adds greater depth to the Museum’s sculpture holdings. In addition, Dr. Nieland’s gift supplements important sculptures by Paul Wayland Bartlett, Frishmuth, Walker Hancock, and Frederick MacMonnies, already owned by The Westmoreland. While the collection is entirely figurative and primarily comprised of sculpture, book ends, candleholders, vases, and inkwells add a utilitarian aspect to it. The gift also includes 40 pieces of medallic art designed by some of the same artists and produced by the Society of Medalists and American Numismatic Society, further broadening the scope of the Museum’s collection. All of the utilitarian pieces and medallic art gifted by Dr. Nieland will be included in the exhibition.

A remarkable new generation of academically trained American sculptors emerged during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At the height of the Gilded Age, they achieved widespread critical and commercial success for works created on public commission as well as for private patrons. Working on both grand civic platforms and on a more intimate, domestic scale, they transformed the art of American sculpture. New York City was at the heart of the transformation, but other major American cities, including Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston, provided encouragement, support, and venues. Surprisingly and unfortunately, the flowering of these artists was relatively brief, and amid rapidly changing aesthetics in the 20th century, the reputations of many of these sculptors dimmed. Despite increased interest in their work in recent decades among scholars, curators, and collectors, their careers, achievements, and even their names, once famed, are now recalled only narrowly.

“This outstanding collection gives us an opportunity to rediscover another dimension of modern American art from the late 19th century into the first half of the 20th century,” states Barbara L. Jones, Chief Curator and organizer of the exhibition. “By exploring the lives and aesthetic achievements of these sculptors, the exhibition will expand awareness and deepen the public’s knowledge of this extraordinary era of American sculpture, in addition to bringing overdue recognition to these artists.”

“This is the third transformational gift of art to be received by The Westmoreland as a result of our recently completed campaign. With works ranging from six to nearly 60 inches in height, this stunning collection provides diversity in the arena of American figurative sculpture and complements works already in our collection,” says The Richard M. Scaife Director/CEO Judith Hansen O’Toole of the extraordinary gift from Dr. Nieland.

Dr. Nieland describes the works of art in this collection as, “in part, depicting the beauty of the human body, a central focus of art since the beginning of time.” He further states, “Altogether, the works reinforce the poetic assertion in Genesis (1:27) that the human form, male as well as female, represents the image of The Creator. Sensuality is implicit in these pure and refined objects, but utilization or exploitation of the human form for other purposes can border upon the salacious.” Regarding his decision to gift the works to the Museum, he says, “The Westmoreland with its devotion to American art is a perfect fit for this collection. Our good fortune to have possessed these beautiful sculptures presents us with the opportunity and obligation to pass them on. Someone owned them before us and inevitably the time arrives to look to their preservation and conservation in the hands of others. I am thrilled that my treasures have found a new home in The Westmoreland Museum of American Art.”

A fully illustrated, full-color catalogue accompanies the exhibition in which the author, Bruce Weber, discusses individual works within the context of their creator’s overall interests and pursuits.

A Timeless Perfection is supported by The Richard C. von Hess Foundation and the Hillman Exhibition Fund of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

About Dr. Michael L. Nieland:

Dr. Michael L. Nieland, a long-time member and supporter of The Westmoreland, is a retired dermatologist and dermatopathologist. Assembled over a period of over 20 years, that which started as a small collection soon grew to over 100 pieces of American and European figurative sculpture. Before gifting his American collection to the Museum, Dr. Nieland and his wife Lilli enjoyed living with them in their Henry Hornbostel home in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

About Bruce Weber:

Bruce Weber is an independent curator with over 30 years professional experience. With a Ph.D in the history of art from the Graduate School of the City University of New York, he has served as a curator of American art at the University of Kentucky Museum of Art, Norton Museum of Art, National Academy Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and as the director of research and exhibitions at New York’s Berry-Hill Gallery. He has broad expertise and experience in the field of American art from the 18th to the 21st centuries.

About The Westmoreland Museum of American Art
The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, located at 221 N. Main Street in Greensburg, PA, completed a transformational renovation and expansion project in October 2015. A new LEED-certified addition of over 13,000 square feet features a dynamic cantilevered design along with a stunning view of the City of Greensburg and the Laurel Highlands beyond. The Westmoreland’s permanent collection is comprised of works by major American artists from the 18th century through the present, with a special emphasis on Southwestern Pennsylvania art and artists. The Museum also offers an impressive schedule of temporary exhibitions of American art – both nationally-travelling and those organized in house – as well as events and community-oriented educational programming for all ages. More information is available at thewestmoreland.org.