Art at the Exposition



The Art Institute of Chicago is the only school of art that has sent an exhibition of its pupils' work to our exposition. This is placed upstairs in the south gallery of the Liberal Arts building and is very interesting to the student, to the connoisseur and to those who care to see what the youth of the west are doing in different fields of art study. The arch which forms an entrance to the booth containing the exhibit is an ,original design in the Moorish style, by Miss Helen Putman. She has caught the rich decorative effect, the intermingling of geometrical figures and the delicate tracing of the real arabesque design. Within the two booths one finds excellent studies in charcoal, oil and watercolor from life and still life, as well as studies in architectural and practical designs, illustrating the different branches of art taught at the Art Institute. There is a study from life in oil of a negro girl, by John C. Johansen, which is exceedingly well done. A study of an old woman reading and another of a man standing—an academy—by Karl Buehr, show careful, conscientious work and skill in manipulation. A seated female figure from life and a portrait of a picturesque girl in a large black hat, by Miss Pauline Palmer, and a study by Mrs. Schoenfeld are well drawn and carefully painted. There are pictures over in the art gallery which are no better than many of these studies.

Among the charcoal drawings from life there is one in outline, full of strength and character, by one of our Omaha boys—Mr. Clarke G. Powell. He has done what is difficult to do—represented the action in mere outline without exaggeration.

There are two decorative designs of Theory, Practice and History, which are composed with thought and an artistic feeling for line; some interesting compositions by Miss McLane, Miss Eaton and Miss Silveira and two plaster casts to indicate what the classes are doing in modeling. There are designs for wall paper, for book covers, lace, posters, rugs, etc., all of which give us a slight idea of the work going on near us and whose far-reaching influence we hope will unconsciously change , out Occidental taste to a desire for more harmonious household decorations, more artistic textile fabrics, as well as give us a more refined understanding of pictures.

Several of the instructors of the Art institute are represented by their work in the Art building. Frederick W. Freer has a picture called "The Young Mother"—199—which hangs in the east rotunda. The mother, dressed in a pale. green gown, stands in a natural, flitting attitude, holding her little baby pressed lovingly against her cheek. The composition is very graceful and full of tender sentiment and the color scheme is soft and harmonious. It is somewhat monotonous, however, as there is not the contrast between the face of the child and of the mother that one would expect. Both are painted with the same coloring and the same technique. The mother's eyes have no more character and experience reflected from their depths than have the baby's; the skin of each is the same in texture and in color and there is a certain affectation of slanting brush strokes—perhaps to soften and lose the outcome or perhaps to suggest the looseness of pastel, which gives one the impression of a fad. A variation of the same theme is in a small picture—193—representing the young mother playing with the child on her knee. It is pretty and attractive and domestic. The artist has introduced into the background a peep of summer through the slats of the old-fashioned window shutter. In the south room of the Illinois State building is another picture by Mr. Freer in his same style, though quite different in subject𔃉even if the green dress is identical—called "Consolation." A fair-haired maiden leans over the back of a chair to console the suffering woman who is seated looking out with wide, hopeless eyes at the spectator. The background is a sombre landscape effect, which suggests rare old tapestry; the harmony of color is effective, the composition is very good, the story is well told. Judging Mr. Freer's work from these examples, I should say his pictures please rather because they are pretty in color and attractive in subject and in sentiment than because they are strong in character or forceful in treatment.

Miss Pauline Dohn, another instructor of the Art Institute, has two very interesting pictures here. One—No. 169—represents a young country girl sitting outdoors reading; patches of sunlight fall upon the grass, the path, the side of the house and the girl herself. The subject is simple, but it is full of the light of the open air and painted with frankness and strength. Her other picture —No. 168—is hung in the west room with the photographs. It depicts an interior with three heads in silhouette against the light of the window. The mother, with a maternal gesture, is showing the little pink baby—"The Newcomer"—to the other two children, who are bent over it in childish attitudes, and who complete the composition. It is very homelike, full of sentiment and well painted. In looking quickly from it to the east wall of the same room—at No. 313 —an interior by A. B. Koopman, where the heads of two Dutch peasants are painted against the light, too, but where the whole interior is luminous with reflected lights—one feels that the shadows of Miss Dohn's picture are heavy and black and that there is not enough vibration of color and light. It is a strong picture, and even if Mr. Losar does say, "keep the light within the picture—don't let it wander outside of the frame," the shadows might have been more luminous and transparent.

Then there are two landscapes—Nos. 68 and 69—in the Arc building and two more in the Illinois building 'by Mrs. Charles F. Browne. All very fresh and well painted, but which are somewhat like the song of the robin. When you once have learned his gentle melody you always recognize it.

In one it is a meadow with a few low bushes and thistles in the foreground, trees in the distance against the sky, in another a green bank in the foreground, water in the middle distance and a low bank form the horizon. In each there are the pinkish, purplish cumuli clouds rolling about; near the horizon the sky is a warm pinkish purple, changing to a delicate green, which in turn fades into a deep blue or a bluish purple.

Miss Jeannette Buckley also has two small landscapes—one in sunlight, the other, a little village on a gray day, with water in the foreground. Both are very unassuming, but painted in an artistic spirit. The former, 80, was painted at Delavan, Wis., where Mr. Vandernpoel takes his summer classes.

Mr. Taft's work as a sculptor has already been commented upon and I shall write of Miss Baker in connection with the miniature exhibit. ETHEL EVANS.