Written by Caitlyn Cooney, Curatorial Intern
When viewing a work of art, it is common that the piece may evoke memories of an experience, a place, or significant people in the viewers’ lives. For collector Helen Lane, these relationships serve as motivation in her artwork selections.
Her collection of 19th and early 20th century works contain notable artists and artworks that characterize many of the movements of the era, as well as moments or people in her life. Each of the pieces featured in the exhibition are significant to Lane on a personal level, evoking memories of her childhood, family, friends, and personal experiences.
Lane is an example of a collector who started later in life. She and her late husband, Edward, had both always shared a passion for art and took an interest in understanding it, though collecting was not always a part of their lives. Instead, they took time to listen and learn about movements, artists, and the historical context of pieces they were interested in. For Lane, the history and context in which the artists were working and their creative intentions were the most important aspects of understanding the works, as well as art in general. “But when we started to buy,” says Mrs. Lane, “then we were hooked.”
Each of the three pieces featured in Collector’s Choice are lively, expressive, and moving in their own ways. Featuring both sculpture and painting, each piece was created within the same stylistic era, capturing the expressive brushstrokes and sculptural forms that characterized the Impressionist age. Though each of the subjects is different, ranging from the domestic sphere to architecture, they all speak to Lane’s passions and memories in a very specific way. A notable piece in her collection is Nicolas Tarkhoff’s Mere et Enfant (c. 1900-1910). The painting speaks to Lane’s personal relationships and memories of her family, children, grandchildren. The bond between the mother and child is captured in the play of color throughout the composition, highlighting the figures and blurring the delineation between their garments, while the strong use of line unites the two figures in their embrace.
When one looks around Lane’s home at the collection that she and her husband have accumulated over the years, their passion and personal connection to the objects is evident. There are objects that remind them of their siblings, parents, children, grandchildren, friends, memories, experiences, and the like. They are not only pieces of artwork to be admired, but rather objects that have become visual reminders of shared memories, and have become friends themselves. For that reason, collecting has become a deeply embedded aspect within the fabric of the Lanes’ lives, and each object serves as a reminder of that.
The exhibition Collectors’ Choice: Inside the Hearts and Minds of Regional Collectors will be on view from May 17th to September 14th, 2014.
For more information, please visit the Cummer’s website at https://www.cummer.org/