Morgan Russell and His Modern Mentors
Most modern painters like to think of themselves as “inventors,” though few, if any, start from nowhere or nothing. Virtually every creative journey sets out from a particular location, and Morgan Russell’s voyage (1886–1953) was no exception.
At the Art Students League in New York and then in Paris, Russell studied Italian Renaissance masters like Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Titian (a theme explored in the first exhibition of this series, Morgan Russell and the Old Masters, 2006). Russell also immersed himself in the work of the French Impressionists Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, and Pièrre- Auguste Renoir, and was influenced by his progressive contemporaries Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Robert and Sonia Delaunay.
Russell gradually arrived at his own style of abstraction. He and American cohort Stanton Macdonald-Wright called this style Synchromism, meaning “with color.” Russell boldly unveiled Synchromism to the Paris public in 1913, presenting this avant-garde school as though it were an unprecedented bellwether. Like so many before him, Russell proved most original in recombining a living inheritance to forge a new and historic achievement.
Gregory Galligan, guest curator, & Maryanna Roberts, collections assistant, organized the exhibition at MAM.
This exhibition was organized in memory of Henry M. Reed (1923-2006), former member of the Museum Board and Art Committee, who, along with his wife, Mimi Reed, donated the Museum’s Morgan Russell Archives and Collection in 1985. This exhibition also represents the culmination of the Morgan Russell Archives and Collection Enhancement Project, 2004-2006, a project generously funded by the Henry Luce Foundation for the comprehensive cataloging and conservation of the Museum’s voluminous holdings of Russell’s art and papers. All Museum programs are made possible, in part, by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and Museum members.