Cocktails with a Curator
Join us for a new “Cocktails with a Curator” program with Robin Jaffee Frank, PhD, on Tuesday, July 19, from 6–8 pm.
Tickets: $25 Members, $30 Non-Members
Robin Jaffee Frank will give a visual presentation titled “Framing Memory in American Art: Visions of Love and Loss,” a most timely subject, to accompany Liliane Tomasko: Evening Wind. The lecture will be followed by a signature cocktail, complimentary with your ticket, to toast the current exhibition, which closes on Sunday, July 24th.
“Framing Memory” investigates art’s historical and contemporary role in celebrating love and memorializing loss. Frank will tell stories behind a diverse array of objects—ranging from early American mourning jewelry to prints, needlework, paintings, and sculpture by well-known and underappreciated artists across generations and styles. She will close with a video meditation on mortality, now on view at the Whitney Biennial.
Likewise, she will discuss how Tomasko’s lyrical paintings of unmade beds, both representational and abstract, grapple with the border between consciousness and oblivion, sleep and death. Her imagery is amplified by visitors’ experiences of Hopper’s family home, where we can stand in his bedroom beside his unmade bed while looking through the window at Nyack and the Hudson River below.
In art and literature, windows, water, and light, which set the tone for many of Hopper’s paintings, often are symbols of revelation, of physical and spiritual passage from one world to the next. In Hopper’s pictures of interiors, he often featured a lone figure, a bed, a window, a shaft of light, and a water view to focus on his subject's inner rather than outer life, making memory the underlying theme. Long recognized for their psychological evocation of loneliness, his paintings seem more revelatory in the last few years during quarantine. Indeed, art’s power to address the fragility of life and resilience of the human spirit has taken on new resonance during the pandemic.
Frank’s subject is based on years of research that led to her exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery and accompanying book Love and Loss: American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures (2000). She says, “Understanding the personal stories of love and loss that artworks commemorate returns to them their power to move us. And these exquisite objects and their histories have highly personal resonance today for so many of us, for they attest to the resilience of the human spirit. Who are the people and places we hold close in uncertain times because these bonds help us cope and thrive? What happens when those bonds are broken?”
About the Guest Speaker
An independent curator, Robin Jaffee Frank, who holds a PhD in the history of art from Yale University, is an innovative art museum curator, enthusiastic lecturer, and prominent author on American visual culture from the colonial to contemporary periods. Currently an independent scholar, she has organized numerous exhibitions at museums throughout the US She is the former s Chief Curator at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, and served for twenty-one years as a curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Conn.
In 2015, Frank curated the landmark exhibition and wrote the award-winning book, Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008, which brought to life the allure of Coney Island, and the influence that it has held on American culture for over 150 years. Pertinent to this lecture, she curated the exhibition and authored the accompanying book Love and Loss: American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures (Yale University Press, 2000). Frank further explored how American art frames memory in essays in Expressions of Innocence and Eloquence: Selections from the Jane Katcher Collection of Americana (vol. 1, 2006; vol. 2, 2011) and Becoming America: Highlights from the Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection (2020). In 2020–21, she taught a university course titled, Love and Loss: Framing Memory in American Portraiture, 1680– 1919, at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.