Solo, one of 56 pieces by noted American surrealist Philip C. Curtis, '30, included in a major exhibition of his work. Albion College hosts the exhibit Sept. 4-29.
Albion, Mich. — It’s a homecoming of sorts for one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed American surrealist painters, as a major exhibition is sponsored next month at Albion College. Philip C. Curtis "Sound and Silence" includes 56 works from the noted Jackson native and Albion College alumnus Philip C. Curtis, ’30, along with several opportunities to learn more about the art and the artist. The exhibition and associated gallery tours and special lectures run September 4-30 in Albion College’s Bobbitt Visual Arts Center.
“This is a wonderful exhibition,” said Albion College Art and Art History department chair and curator of the exhibition Bille Wickre. “Albion College has a tremendous collection of Curtis’ artwork, plus this show includes pieces from the Philip C. Curtis Trust and from private collections that are rarely exhibited. It’s going to be beautiful, and the opportunity to see all these pieces together is just amazing.”
After graduating from Albion College in 1930, Curtis spent three years at Yale University’s School of Fine Arts. Under the auspices of the WPA he founded what is now the Phoenix (Ariz.) Art Museum. During his lifetime, Curtis’ work was displayed across the U.S., and a feature exhibition of his works is on permanent display at the Phoenix Art Museum. Both Albion College and the University of Arizona have endowed programs, for students and visiting artists, in his name. Curtis’s life was the subject of an award-winning PBS documentary in 1995, five years before his death.
The exhibit marks the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth and is the culmination of two years of work by Wickre that included an art history class on American Surrealism taught by Wickre. Students in the class researched many aspects of Curtis’ life and artistic career. Wickre’s students visited local and Arizona museums and the homes of collectors, explored Curtis’ home in Arizona, and also studied how aspects of his boyhood, spent in Jackson, appear in some of his works. Essays written by the students are included in the exhibition catalog.
“Researching this great artist, with ties to us and our community was a great opportunity for our class,” said Wickre. “The students got a real understanding for what it means to be an art historian. This seminar was an opportunity that is rarely offered, even to graduate students, outside of a specialized museum practice program.”
“Philip C. Curtis Sound and Silence,” runs September 4-29 at Albion College. Admission is free and viewing hours are: 9 am to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 am – 5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday. Gallery tours and accompanying lectures will be announced at a later date, or may be arranged by appointment. For more information, contact the Albion College Art and Art History department at 517/629-0246, or email Wickre at , or visit the exhibition website, http://www.albion.edu/art/curtis.