By Lars Trodson
---- — The Addison Gallery possesses one of the most extensive and admired collections of American art in the United States.
To showcase the work, the gallery at Phillips Academy in Andover curates three shows every winter, each showcasing a specific aspect of the collection.
This winter’s exhibits began yesterday, Jan. 19, with “Eye on the Collection.”
Associate Director Susan Faxon, the gallery’s curator of art created before 1950, calls the pieces in this show “extraordinary.” She encourages everyone from the Merrimack Valley and places beyond to visit the Addison and “experience these remarkable works of art.”
“Eye On the Collection” features masterworks from the archives that are both contemporary and from past eras.
Faxon calls the show “eye-opening and entertaining.”
“These are great examples of American art,” she promises of the exhibit which runs through March 10.
A gaze through the list of featured work upholds her promise, revealing inclusions such as Winslow Homer’s “The Country School” and George Inness’ breathtaking “The Monk.”
The exhibition also includes American transplants such as Hans Hofmann, whose vibrant, striking canvasses are abstract and moving.
Next, the gallery will mount “Stone, Wood, Metal Mesh: Prints and Printmaking.”
The exhibit’s title, Faxon explains, references materials that are necessary to make prints: Stone is used to create lithographs; metal for etchings; mesh for screen prints; and wood for prints.
Some 120 works (almost all paintings except for one piece of sculpture) were culled from the more than 4,000 pieces in the Addison collection.
Again, Homer will be represented. Other features will be lithographs by Frank Stella, dry-points from American luminaries James Whistler, Charles A. Platt and Edward Hopper, and contemporary lithographs from leading artists such as Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Motherwell. Andy Warhol is represented.
“Some of these have not been shown in years,” Faxon says, noting that all five of the galleries at the Addison will be included in this exhibition, which runs through March 17.
The third show of the winter features one of the more overlooked, and undervalued, artistic mediums: photography.
“Frame By Frame” highlights series of photographs that can be found in the gallery’s respected collection. This show begins on Feb. 2, overlapping with the print show, and ends April 14.
Robert Frank, a Swiss-born American artist, created the seminal photographic series, “The Americans,” which takes “a piercing look beneath the surface of 1950s American life.”
Bruce Davidson’s “Brooklyn Gang” is a portrait of post-war inner-city youth culture. William Christenberry’s “Alabama Pictures” is a chronicle of the effects of time’s passage on the artist’s beloved South.
Each photo series, Faxon says, is meant to investigate its own unique aspect of American life.
“We’re able to see how these artists look at a subject not just from one perspective, but rather as a whole series of objects,” she explains.
Faxon believes the Addison Gallery is a magnificent community resource that should be enjoyed by the public.
“This is an amazing collection of art located on the grounds of a secondary high school that’s open to the public free of charge,” she says. “We encourage and are delighted to have everyone come and see these beautiful pieces of American art.”
If You Go What: Three exhibits, "Eye on the Collection" (Jan. 19 to March 10); "Stone, Wood, Metal, Mesh: Prints and Printmaking," Jan. 19 to March 17; and "Frame by Frame: Photographic Series and Portfolios from the Collection," Feb. 2 to April 14. Where: The Addison Gallery, 180 Main St., Phillips Academy, Andover. How: Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.Call 978-749-4015.