Penn Libraries Events & Exhibitions

September 7, 2010-February 13, 2011
Monday-Saturday 10 am to 5 pm
Hours may vary during University Holidays and Intersessions
Both galleries will be open Monday, January 17th.

Kamin Gallery, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
3420 Walnut Street, first floor, Philadelphia, PA
Kroiz Gallery of the Architectural Archives
Lower Level of the Fisher Fine Arts Library
220 South 34th Street, Philadelphia, PA

Download pdf map of galleries and parking

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the Architectural Archives at the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with the Wharton Esherick Museum (Paoli, PA) and Hedgerow Theatre (Rose Valley, PA), announce an exhibition on Wharton Esherick, an artist whose distinctive synthesis of art, theater, dance, and design forged an early and compelling example of American Modernism. The exhibition, which runs from September 7, 2010 through February 13, 2011, will be on display in two venues, the Kamin Gallery, on the first floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, and the Kroiz Gallery of the Architectural Archives, on the lower level of the Fisher Fine Arts Library, just across the college green from each other on the Penn campus.

Wharton Esherick and the Birth of the American Modern, the first major examination of Esherick's work and artistic development in over fifty years, will explore the social, political, and artistic milieu of the 1920s and 1930s and the role it played in Esherick's evolution into an artist who spoke through wood. Trained as an illustrator and painter, Esherick's experiences in modern theater and dance, his exposure to new ideas in philosophy, politics, and literature, and his experiments in carving and printmaking laid the foundation for his emergence as an artist of remarkable range--from painting and prints to set designs, sculpture, furniture and architecture. He and his community of friends created an artistic circle in which radical new ideas flourished and shaped the definition of American Modernism.

Through a close focus on the world and work of Wharton Esherick, the exhibition will uncover and reinstate individuals whose roles in the creation of American Modernism have faded over time. Key figures include authors Theodore Dreiser and Sherwood Anderson; print curator Carl Zigrosser; theatre director Jasper Deeter; painter and ceramicist Henry Varnum Poor; and photographers Consuelo Kanaga and Marjorie Content. Institutions we will highlight include Hedgerow Theatre; Centaur Press; Marietta Johnson's School of Organic Education in Fairhope, Alabama; Gail Gardner-Ruth Doing Rhythms Camp in the Adirondacks; and Threefold Commonwealth Group in New York.

Wharton Esherick and the Birth of the American Modern will bring together a range of materials, from books, manuscripts, and photographs to prints, sculpture, and furniture, belonging to the participating institutions, other institutional collections, and private collectors. The Kamin Gallery will present Esherick's art in its cultural, artistic, and political context while the Kroiz Gallery will examine the evolution of the works themselves during this period.