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: Thirty-seven Drawings Given to Institute


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The John De Laittre Memorial Collection of Drawings continues to grow and keep pace with modern developments, thanks to the interest and courage of Mrs. Horace Ropes, who has given the large number of drawings now assembled in memory of her father. Thirty-seven new drawings have just been added which enlarge the collection to the extent of representing contemporary work from Hungary, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. In addition there are added several French and American drawings which supply much needed examples, if the collection is meant to be truly representative of the French movement of the past two generations. Jules Pascin, Henri Matisse, Marie Laurencin, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec certainly should have an important place in this group. Among them they cover a considerable part of the history of the modern movement. And when contrasted with examples of the work of Willette, Raffet and others who contributed to the art of the two preceding generations, they assume even more importance. The examples shown are typical of their several styles.In fact the modern movement may be easily studied in this whole collection, ranging from the pioneer work of Rowlandson to the entirely contemporary work of the American modernist, Arnold Ronnebeck. The English academic style is represented for contrast, as well as the Pre-Raphaelite school; French illustrators and etchers appear beside the more radical innovators of the XIXth century; young men and old are represented pulling together for individuality and a more personal expression in art.Here one may now observe also the tendency of Hungarian and German artists toward simpler statements in art. Gyula Hary, the Hungarian, was born in 1864; Sandor Kubinyi was born in 1875; Bela Witz was born in 1885; and Szonyi, Mayer-Martin and Geza Bene represent the younger group born in the nineties. The development here is very clearly marked. Hungarian modernism stands out as essentially a development of technique—not however a refinement of technique in the ordinary meaning of the word, but an advance in freedom and simplification. One notes that the lithographic crayon has become popular along with lithowash, which is used somewhat like ordinary pen and ink, with this chief difference—that the effect is broader and richer, though less precise in outline. As far as this matter of technique is concerned, the Hungarians seem to have found the modernist's means admirably suited to their intentions. One of the clearest proofs of the existence of an intention and its reality, is the resemblance between these various examples of Hungarian work. The collection shows in this way the essentials of a new national art.The same in general can be said about the German artists now included in the collection. Albert Weisgerber was born in 1878; Otto Dill, Josef Hegenbarth, Max Unold, Whilhelm Wagner, Willi Jaeckel and Adolf Jutz represent the generation born in the eighties; while Gotthard Schuh and Peter Trumm carry the representation of the younger generation. Somewhat the same development in technique can be observed in their work, as might be expected, considering the similarity in racial stock between many of the Hungarian and German artists. But there is this exception, that the work of Weisgerber and Trumm shows an academic influence which seemingly does not exist to such a degree in Hungary. Very conservative visitors to the Institute may not readily recognize even the academic influence in Trumm's drawing of "Zeus and Ganymede," so closely linked is it in technique with the work of whole-hearted modernists like Max Unold. But the subject matter alone is an obvious clue.One of the least acknowledged facts about modern art is that it often borrows from antiquity and moves in the same vein as does academic art. Modernism is in short mainly a difference in method, a change in means. The "revolution" of modern art is frequently mentioned; it seems very strange that a change which is one chiefly of process should arouse such hostility and shatter the faith in art of otherwise logical people.Probably this is the greatest service which the John De Laittre Memorial Collection will perform. It shows the inevitable march of artistic expression out of exhausted fields into fresh territory. If one thinks of artists as an army substituting on the soil, it is evident that change is imperative; new lands are necessary to maintain the growing army in health, and maneuvers are beneficial in maintaining its efficiency. Although a clumsy comparison, full of illogical implications, it points out a fact proved by the history of the fine arts in every age. Whether we like it or not, change, contrast, innovation, departure—these are inescapable. Few museums have ever undertaken to show the working of this natural law in action, as it is exhibited in the collection given by Mrs. Ropes.Referenced Works of Art
  1. Caricature of Sinclair Lewis, by Boardman Robinson
    The John De Laittre Memorial Collection
  2. Street Scene, Havana, by Jules Pascin, The John De Laittre Memorial Collection
  3. Three Profiles, by Sandor Kubinyi
    The John De Laittre Memorial Collection
  4. Wall Street, N.Y., by Arnold Ronnebeck
    The John De Laittre Memorial Collection
  5. An Old Woman, by Joseph Hegenbarth
    The John De Laittre Memorial Collection
  6. View of Albi, by Leopold Survage
    The John De Laittre Memorial Collection
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Source: "Thirty-Seven Drawings Given to Institute," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 15, no. 10 (March, 1926): 47-48.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009