Six Artists in Sixty Minutes: Highlights from the AAC Collection

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We hear it all the time: “What should I see? I only have an hour.” It’s a tricky question because the answer is always changing. With more than 12,000 objects ranging in date from the Old Masters to the present, the Arkansas Arts Center Collection is always new…and always free. Every few months, the AAC rotates the works on display, giving visitors a fresh perspective with every visit.

As you look for ways to keep visiting friends and family occupied over the holidays, we recommend you check out the following works which will be on display through early 2016.

Diego Rivera’s Dos Mujeres (Two Women)

Location: Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery


“Dos Mujeres (Two Women)” by Diego Rivera

The pièce de résistance of the Arts Center’s collection, Dos Mujeres, came to the AAC in 1959 as a gift from Abby Rockefeller Mauzé to what was then named the Museum of Fine Arts. Painted in 1914 by Mexican artist Diego Rivera, it is a monumental modernist painting and has been featured in many important international exhibitions.

When Rivera painted Dos Mujeres, he was exploring Cubism, a modern style of art that had recently been created by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso and his French colleague Georges Braque. In Cubist images like this one, the artist shows people and objects from a variety of viewpoints, as the viewer glimpses them moving through space and time.

Rivera was working in Paris at the time he created this work. Dos Mujeres is set in the apartment where he lived with his Russian-born girlfriend, Angelina Beloff, featured in the painting standing in a blue dress. The other woman is Alma Delores Bastién, a neighbor of Rivera and Beloff.

Dos Mujeres will be out on loan in early 2016, so come see the treasure of the AAC collection before it goes on tour.

Michele Marieschi’s The Rialto Bridge, Venice and The Grand Canal, Venice, with the Dogana di mare and Basilica Santa Maria Della Salute

Location: Jackson T. Stephens Gallery


“The Rialto Bridge, Venice and The Grand Canal, Venice, with the Dogana di mare” and “Basilica Santa Maria Della Salute” by Michele Marieschi

If you’ve ever wondered how art is able to last centuries, then you’ll want to stop by these two oil paintings by Michele Marieschi.

Painted in 1740 and donated to the AAC in 2011 at the bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Stebbins, these picturesque Italian veduti (views) have been recently conserved. Over the centuries, Marieschi’s paintings accumulated dirt and soot on its varnish—a shiny protective coating originally applied by the artist and perhaps renewed by later hands—turning it yellow.

These dark layers veiled the painting’s sunny colors and details until a recent cleaning by art conservation firm Norton Arts using a carefully calculated combination of solvents to dissolve the varnish, yet leave the paint layer unharmed.

Louise Nevelson’s Tide Garden IV

Location: Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery

"Tide Garden IV" by Louise Nevelson

“Tide Garden IV” by Louise Nevelson

When the collection was most recently reinstalled in August, the Arts Center proudly reopened the Winthrop Rockefeller gallery as a gallery dedicated modern and contemporary works. One of the more popular pieces is a monumental wall-construction, Tide Garden IV (1964), by Louise Nevelson.

Made of black-painted wood and measuring more than 11.5 feet long, the totemic assemblage perfectly illustrates the sculptor’s signature style of repurposing both manipulated-and-found-materials—much of which she collected from the streets of New York City—in crafting a work that is recognizable yet abstract.

Claude Monet’s Effet de soleil couchant sur la Seine à Port-Villez (Effect of the Sun Setting on the Seine at Port-Villez)

Location: Jackson T. Stephens Gallery

"Effet de soleil couchant sur la Seine à Port-Villez (Effect of the Sun Setting on the Seine at Port-Villez)" by Claude Monet

“Effet de soleil couchant sur la Seine à Port-Villez (Effect of the Sun Setting on the Seine at Port-Villez)” by Claude Monet

While not a part of the AAC collection, this oil painting by renowned French artist Claude Monet, is on extended loan from the Jackson T. Stephens Charitable Trust for Art.

Claude Monet was a key figure in the Impressionist movement that transformed French painting in the second half of the 19th century. Throughout his long career, Monet consistently depicted the landscape and leisure activities of Paris and its environs as well as the Normandy coast. He led the way to 20th century modernism by developing a unique style that strove to capture on canvas the very act of perceiving nature.

Auguste Rodin’s Buste de Balzac jeune (Bust of Young Balzac)

Location: Virginia & Ted Bailey Gallery

"Buste de Balzac jeune (Bust of Young Balzac)" by Auguste Rodin

“Buste de Balzac jeune (Bust of Young Balzac)” by Auguste Rodin

Even though the AAC is internationally renowned for its extraordinary drawing collection, the AAC collection includes paintings and works of art that provide a broader exposure to the arts for its visitors. Among the other areas are its contemporary crafts, encompassing clay, fiber, glass, metal and wood, and Impressionist and early modern paintings and drawings.

One such work is this bronze sculpture by French artist Auguste Rodin who was considered by some critics to be the greatest portraitist in the history of sculpture. His portraits include monumental figures of authors Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac, as depicted here.

His The Gates of Hell, commissioned in 1880 for the future Museum of the Decorative Arts in Paris, remained unfinished at his death but nonetheless resulted in two of Rodin’s most famous images: The Thinker (1880) and The Kiss (1886).

Donald Roller Wilson’s 7:00 P.M. Early Fall *Full Moon* While Naughty Betty Waits for Caroline and J. J.

Location: Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery

"7:00 P.M. Early Fall *Full Moon* While Naughty Betty Waits for Caroline and J. J." by Donald Roller Wilson

“7:00 P.M. Early Fall *Full Moon* While Naughty Betty Waits for Caroline and J. J.” by Donald Roller Wilson

Born in Houston and now based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Donald Roller Wilson is a Gothic storyteller with the phenomenal technique and precision of an old master, animating his paintings with finely clothed chimpanzees, dogs and cats.

A technically-skilled painter with a tradition of portraying whimsical subjects, Roller has developed a cult following of celebrity collectors including Robin Williams, Jack Nicholson, Harrison Ford, Paul Simon, Elizabeth Taylor, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Martin, Meryl Streep, Carol Burnett, Diane Sawyer and Carrie Fisher.

If you need assistance finding these works or would like more information about the Arkansas Arts Center, please visit the Visitors Services desk in the atrium.

While we’ve only recommended six artists for those visitors with limited time, we hope you’ll stay longer or come back to see the hundreds of other fantastic works on display. The Arts Center is pleased to feature the world’s second largest collection of works by neo-Impressionist painter Paul Signac, the 47th Collectors Show and Sale (closing January 3, 2016) and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, closing January 17, 2016.

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