VAGABOND ARTIST: ‘'”POP” HART IN TAHITI, MEXICO, & THE CARIBBEAN
WHEN: September 1, 2015, to February 8, 2016
WHERE: Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers. The museum is located at 71 Hamilton Street (at George Street) on the College Avenue Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The Zimmerli is a short walk from the NJ Transit train station in New Brunswick, midway between New York City and Philadelphia.
For more information, visit the museum’s website www.zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu or call 848.932.7237.
Enjoy a virtual adventure with George Overbury “Pop” Hart, whose diverse travel experiences captured scenes of daily life in locales where few tourists ventured during the early part of the 20th century. While most American artists visited Europe to perfect their drawing and painting skills or to pursue styles inspired by avant-garde artists, Hart preferred extended trips abroad to more exotic – and affordable – destinations. Crisscrossing the globe between his first expedition to Latin America starting in 1900 and his last trips to North Africa and Cuba some 30 years later, these excursions were the primary source for his art throughout his career. Vagabond Artist: “Pop” Hart in Tahiti, Mexico, and the Caribbean, with more than 40 watercolors, drawings, and prints.
The works in Vagabond Artist demonstrate how George Overbury “Pop” Hart (1868-1933) not only introduced aspects of other cultures to American audiences, but also mastered watercolor and printmaking techniques that were admired by art critics and peers. “The everyday life of native inhabitants fascinated Hart and he was prolific at sketching what he observed – from market vendors to women washing clothes to fiestas,” noted Marilyn Symmes, the Zimmerli’s Morse Research Center for Graphic Arts Director and Curator of Prints and Drawings, who organized the exhibition. “These subjects often served as source material for his later prints. He took up printmaking in 1921, gaining a critical reputation during his lifetime and, ultimately, historical importance for his innovative efforts. This is a rare opportunity to see his original watercolors and drawings next to the prints in which he revisited favorite subjects.”
Born in Cairo, Illinois, and raised in Rochester, New York, George Overbury Hart took up sketching while still living at home. After working unsuccessfully in his father’s printing factory, he briefly studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1890s. Starting in 1897, Hart regularly traveled to countries near and far. For several years, he earned his living as a sign painter to support his passion for sketching the sights he encountered. His trip to Tahiti and Samoa in 1903 and 1904, where he made his first accomplished portraits and figure studies, proved to be significant in the development of his unconventional art career.
Hart traveled extensively around Mexico in 1923, 1925, and annually from 1926 to 1929. Again, he produced a multitude of drawings resulting in lively images that reveal his fascination with picturesque scenery, colorful characters encountered in markets or on the road, and local pastimes, such as cockfighting or music-making. His views from his visit to the Mexican state of Veracruz are particularly noteworthy: there is a lovely watercolor of the church in Huiloapan (c. 1923-25) and he dramatically colored variant impressions of his 1925 etching Orizaba, Mexico. One view shows a storm-threatened scene, while the other features a majestic, sunlit vista accented by a turquoise river rushing through the valley.
Vagabond Artist: “Pop” Hart in Tahiti, Mexico, and the Caribbean was organized by Marilyn Symmes, the Zimmerli’s Curator of Prints and Drawings and Director of the Morse Research Center for Graphic Arts. Ms. Symmes was assisted by three Rutgers art history students – Leeza Cinar (BA, 2016), Yarden Elias (BA, 2014), and Reshma Nayyar (PhD, 2014) – in updating the documentation of hundreds of Hart’s prints, drawings, and watercolors in the museum’s records.
ZIMMERLI ART MUSEUM|RUTGERS
The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum houses more than 60,000 works of art, ranging from ancient to contemporary art. The permanent collection features particularly rich holdings in 19th-century French art; Russian art from icons to the avant-garde; Soviet nonconformist art from the Dodge Collection; and American art with notable holdings of prints. In addition, small groups of antiquities, old master paintings, as well as art inspired by Japan and original illustrations for children’s books, provide representative examples of the museum’s research and teaching message at Rutgers. One of the largest and most distinguished university-based art museums in the nation, the Zimmerli is located on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Established in 1766, Rutgers is America’s eighth oldest institution of higher learning and a premier public research university.
The Zimmerli Art Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and the first Tuesday of each month (except August), 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays, as well as the month of August.
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Image: The Shopkeeper’s Daughter, Tahiti, 1903; Watercolor over graphite on paper; 11 ¾ x 11 5/8 in. (29.8 x 29.5 cm); Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University; Gift of the estate of Jeanne Overbury Hart