“MODERN AND STRANGE”: ROBERT WINTHROP CHANLER’S STAINED GLASS WINDOWS FOR GERTRUDE VANDERBILT WHITNEY by Avis Berman
The suite of stained glass windows designed by Robert Winthrop Chanler for the sculptor and art patron Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney was a unique artistic invention by an equally unique artist. The Whitney windows were Chanler’s first and only commission in stained glass, and what he produced resembles nothing else in the history of American glass. The windows look backward and forward, and they constitute a creative act of extraordinary daring for their time and medium. Mustering an impressive breadth of sources, Chanler interweaves allusions to Gothic art and architecture, Eastern symbolism, Greek mythology, and pagan occultism, and even plays with nuances of contemporary psychology. Technically as well as imaginatively, he marshalls the properties of the medium – reflection, luminosity, and high-key color harmonies -- in the service of a genuinely modern vision.
HERBERT FERBER (1906-1991)
Born in New York on April 30, 1906, Herbert Ferber Silvers graduated with a B.S. from Columbia University and began taking night classes at the Beaux Art Institute of Design in 1927 at the age of 21. Beginning his artistic career as a painter and graphic artist, after three years at the Beaux Art Institute, in 1930, he enrolled in the National Academy of Design. That same year, Ferber also graduated from Columbia’s College of Oral and Dental Surgery and began a parallel career as a dentist. It was at the Beaux Art Institute that, in 1931 at the age of 25, he turned his attention to sculpture. Ferber was granted his first solo exhibition in 1937 at Midtown Galleries in New York City.
Augusta Savage (1892-1962), LENORE, 1935
Augusta Christine Fells was born in Green Cove Springs, Florida on February 9th, 1892 to Edward and Cornelia Fells. As a child she was often found modeling small ducks out of the mud that she excavated from her backyard, despite her father’s discouragement. As a Methodist minister he objected to ‘graven images,’ and she would later state that her parents “practically whipped the art out of [her].” Savage ultimately retained her passion for creating, becoming one of the most influential artists of the Harlem Renaissance.