The Parrish Art Museum has opened “Pictures in Pictures,” a new exhibition drawn from the museum’s permanent collection that brings together paintings and sculpture that include secondary images of other works. Whether his or her own earlier works, those of their contemporaries, or works sourced from another place and time, these gestures provide insight into the artist’s creative life, often adding layers of meaning to the narrative. Organized by Alicia G. Longwell, Ph.D., Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator, Art and Education, “Pictures in Pictures” features 21 works dating from 1845 to 2006 and spanning a range of art movements.
“Pictures in Pictures” continues the longstanding tradition of artists who include images of other paintings in their work. In 17th-century Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer’s interiors, the artwork in the space was often prominently featured. In 1911, Henri Matisse painted his own studio, filled with miniature versions of his work and all the trappings of a painter’s trade. Likewise, many of the artists included in this exhibition depict their own homes or studios, providing an intimate view of their personal life, artistic process, inspiration, and influence.
Paintings from earlier times dominate works in the exhibition by Larry Rivers (American, 1923-2002) and Jane Freilicher (American, 1924–2014). Rivers’s “Untitled (Dutch Masters),” ca. 1962 references both an historic painting and commercial images: Rembrandt’s “Syndics of the Draper’s Guild” (1662) reproduced on the Dutch Masters cigar box label inspired the artist to recast the image in more abstract and unstructured terms. Freilicher’s still life, “Pierrot and Peonies,” 2007, presents her version of “Pierrot by French painter Antoine Watteau (1684–1721), perhaps as an homage to the players in Freilicher’s own creative circle of artists and writers.
In “Drawing Table,” 2004, Paton Miller (American, born 1953) invites the viewer into his studio where a painting in progress takes its place on a high drawing table, while other works in various stages of completion are set on easels or propped on the studio floor. Saul Steinberg (American, born Romania, 1914–1999) provides an intimate view into his life and times with “Untitled,” 1980-1985. A drawing of a burly soldier next to an army jeep alludes to Steinberg’s harrowing two-year struggle to escape Fascist Italy for the United States; while the carved and painted bread, knife and matchbox may refer to the scarcity of such commodities during the artist’s refugee years.
Paintings by Fairfield Porter (American, 1907–1975) and William Merritt Chase (American, 1849–1916) provide insight into their lives and work. Porter devoted one half of the painting “Anne in a Striped Dress,” 1967 to his wife, and the other to his studio wall with its eclectic patchwork of images: a small landscape painting of Orvieto; a copy of Diego Velázquez’s portrait of the Spanish Prince Baltasar Carlos; a close cropped sketch of the Mona Lisa; and a 1965 Life magazine cover marking the death of Adlai Stevenson, whom he admired for his political stance and keen intellect. With “In the Studio (Studio Interior; Alice in the Shinnecock Studio),” ca. 1900, Chase collapses the boundaries between his personal life and creative pursuits. Chase’s daughter is positioned in his atelier, amid artwork including a painting of the Shinnecock landscape that inspired him for decades, a study of a Velázquez portrait on the wall, and decorative items Chase often depicted in his still-lifes.
“Pictures in Pictures,” runs through February 27 at the Parrish Art Museum, 279 Montauk Highway, Water Mill. All visitors must show proof of vaccination and wear masks at all times. Those 18 and older must provide a valid ID. For more information and details, visit parrishart.org.