John Sloan (1871 – 1951) Hell Hole, 1917, Etching, 15 x 18 in.
Gift of Arthur Schwartz, 2009
John Sloan is one of the foremost artists in the New York Ashcan school, and an important figure in solidifying a distinctly American vision in early 20th Century painting. His works, often invested in social commentary, gave a window into the world of New York’s lower-class boroughs before the First World War, adding an expressive, idealistic imaging to a landscape widely thought to be unsuitable for canvas. Hell Hole, a nickname for the Greenwich Village bar "The Golden Swan," depicts a gathering of New York's burgeoning literati. Among the depicted is a portrait of playwright Eugene O'Neill, featured in the upper right corner.
Arthur Danto (b. 1924) Young Woman, 1960, Woodcut, 20 x 16 3/4 in.
Gift of Richard Bilaitis, 2009
While he is best known as a philosopher for coining the term “Artworld” and suggesting new pathways “After the End of Art,” Arthur C. Danto also had a successful early career as a printmaker and artist. Coinciding with the beginnings of his writing career, and shortly after his education here at Wayne as an undergrad, Danto’s printmaking career was fruitful, albeit short-lived. This print, donated by Richard Bilaitis, Wayne State University Professor Emeritus, prompted a conversation with Danto himself and resulted in a gracious gift of the artist's prints and original woodblocks from this time period from Danto’s personal archives.
Hughie Lee-Smith (1915 – 1999) Fugue, 1995, Lithograph, 29 3/4 x 40 in.
Gift of Karen Bowers, 2009
Wayne State alumnus, Hughie Lee-Smith’s career as a practicing artist was long lasting and highly influential. Whether through his Works Progress Administration (WPA) commissioned work in Ohio, documenting the History of the Negro in the U.S. Navy, or the print seen here, Lee-Smith’s unique imaging of African American experience is highly regarded for its mysterious and at times surrealistic inflections.
Ed Fraga (b. 1956) Urban Landscape, 2009, Watercolor on paper, 19 1/2 x 26 1/2 in.
Gift of the artist, 2009
Recipient of a Wayne State Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008 and Kresge Artist Fellowship in 2009, Ed Fraga has paintings and drawings in the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Cranbrook Art Museum, and the Flint Institute of Arts. This recent acquisition is exemplary of his recent dream-like landscapes which focus on spiritual motifs, as well as psychological investigation pictured through clouds of images, sometimes realistically rendered and sometimes approaching an amorphic, cartoon-like form.
James Calder (b. 1907) Wayne State Science Hall, 1949, Oil on canvas, 20 x 26 in.
Lamoreaux Endowment Fund purchase, 2010
James Calder, a Michigan-born painter has exhibited at the Detroit Institute of Arts as well as the Whitney Museum of American Art. This painting, which was recently acquired through the Rex Lamoreaux Endowed Fund, is an excellent historical picture of Wayne State’s campus. Here, we see Science Hall being built in its current location, framed by Old Main and a dramatically different neighboring corridor.
Sam Mackey (1897 – 1992) Untitled, c. 1977, 2 Drawings, Marker and crayon on paper, both 22 x 15 in.
Gift of David Zucca, 2009
Grandfather to Tyree Guyton, famed for his Heidelberg Project on Detroit’s Eastside, Sam Mackey led a career as a house painter for many years handing a paintbrush down to grandson Tyree at a very young age. Conversely, Tyree urged his grandfather to begin drawing as he entered the later years of his life, prompting the creation of over 2,000 drawings before his passing in 1992.
Mary Ann Aitken (b. 1960) Flower 1–5, c. 1983, Oil on paper, each 14 x 12 in.
Gift of the artist, 2009
Currently working as an art therapist in Brooklyn, New York, Mary Ann Aitken holds both a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Masters in Art Therapy from Wayne State University. Recently included in the exhibition “Spirit” curated by fellow alumnus Ed Fraga, much of Aitken’s current occupation, as well as her career as an artist, revolves around concerns Fraga has explained as “ineffable and transcendent.” This suite of drawings on newspaper capture a vulnerability characteristic of Aitken’s expressive painting style, accented perfectly through the ephemeral traits lent by the paper itself.
Tyree Guyton (b. 1955) Spiritual and Natural Power from 'Faces in the Hood series,' 1999 – 2008, Paint on car hood, 46 x 47 x 4 in.
Gift of the artist, 2008
Resembling many of the painted car hoods currently installed at his Heidelberg Project installation, Spiritual and Natural Power is an excellent example of Tyree Guyton’s aesthetic as well as his devoted interest to the city of Detroit. Transforming Heidelberg Street, located between Gratiot and Mt. Elliot on Detroit’s Eastside, from a drug laden, mostly abandoned residence into a public arts forum was not an easy feat for the artist. Despite having many of the buildings within the project torn down by the City of Detroit, the Heidelberg Project continues to thrive with new installations occurring yearly, and growing community outreach, mostly through youth initiatives offered seasonally for local residents.
Peter Williams (b. 1952) Barcelona, 2004, Oil on canvas, 48 x 36 in.
Gift of Burt Aaron, 2010
Peter Williams is an artist and educator, best known at Wayne State as a celebrated painting instructor for nearly 20 years. His paintings, which are included in The Detroit Institute of Arts as well as The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, address both the tradition of painting along with the artist’s own personal experiences as an African American man. Merging racial stereotypes and contemporary cultural artifacts into his revisionist looks at the cannon of art history, Williams presents a provocative reimagining of our understandings of the past. In this work, based on a painting by Goya, Williams mixes fast food detritus and other pop culture paraphernalia into an ominous pool of red beneath two figures, evocative of his inspiration’s saturated color palette and frequently violent subject matter.
Bradley Jones (1944 – 1989) Man, 1964, Oil on canvas, 40 x 44 in.
Lamoreaux Endowment Fund purchase, 2009
Graduating with both a BFA and MFA from Wayne State’s Fine Arts program, Bradley Jones was one of many prominent Cass Corridor artists to be featured in the seminal “Kick Out the Jams” exhibition at The Detroit Institute of Arts in 1980. Man, one of Jones’ paintings featured in the show, is an excellent example of the artist’s vaguely pop cultural, comic book inspired characters. The canvas presents a dog faced man next to an 'undercover' figure adorning a hat and sunglasses, both of them fully suited and connected to one another from behind through a lashing of orange paint.
Text by Isaac Pool