Voulkos at the Huntington?
What does an art dealer do on his day off? Well, on Monday I took my mother to a museum. We’ve often gone to railroad baron Henry E. Huntington’s Library and Art Collections in nearby San Marino. I first went there as an eight year old. In the early visit, I took home a reproduction of Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy, but on Monday I was delivering a seminal work by Peter Voulkos. Who knew that I’d return, decades later, as a lender to an exhibit?
After we checked in the 1954 Voulkos, Hal Nelson, who is now a guest curator of American Art, gave our museum tour. We met briefly with the Director, John Murdoch. We learned that the desk of Hal Nelson was once the personal desk of Mr. Huntington. We admired the Peter Voulkos, which was properly unwrapped and inspected by the Registrar. But wait a minute, you may ask, what’s a Voulkos doing at the Huntington?
The Huntington’s reputation was built on the library and the British aristocratic portraits, to be sure. There are fantastic gardens, too. But, as it turns out, the Huntington’s collection of American art has grown impressively over the past 20 years. Now it includes paintings, sculpture and decorative arts from the late 17th through the mid 20th centuries. The curators are busy preparing the Scott Gallery and the Erburu Gallery for a May 26th opening. It’s then that I will see the Voulkos, in the company of Glen Lukens, Laura Andreson, Otto and Gertrud Natzler, and Harrison McIntosh.
Recently mentioned by Christopher Knight in his top 10 for 2008 list, the renovated Main House is impeccable. Now, as another sign of the cultural maturity that Knight discussed, we’ll see the links of early California ceramic pioneers, in the context of Arts and Crafts. There’s also an installation of works by the early 20th-century Southern California architects, Charles and Henry Greene.