One of the Amon Carter's masterpieces recently got some prime time exposure on a couple of high-profile cable television shows. Martin Johnson Heade's painting Thunder Storm on Narragansett Bay (1868) made brief appearances on both Showtime's Billions and HBO's Divorce. Viewers who don't know that the painting is part of the Amon Carter's collection may have thought they were looking at an original. Instead, a reproduction stands in for the real painting in both shows.
Ominous, dark, and foreboding, the painting's storm metaphorically fits in with the central story lines of both productions. Billions involves the bitter battle between U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Chuck Rhoades and hedge fund powerhouse Bobby "Axe" Axelrod. Divorce examines the messy unraveling of the marriage of Robert and Frances Dufresne. The reproduction of Thunder Storm appears in season 2, episode 2 ("Dead Cat Bounce") of Billions, and season 1, episode 6 ("Christmas") of Divorce.
^ Billions, Season 2, Episode 2: Thunder Storm appears in the antechamber as Chuck Rhoades enters the U.S. Attorney General's office.
^ Divorce, Season 1, Episode 6: Thunder Storm appears in the dining room of Robert Dufresne's parents' house.
I ran an analysis of the full support crew for both shows on IMDB (419 total for for Billions and 222 total for Divorce). I suspected I would find common personnel working in art direction or set dressing, which might explain why the reproduction appears in both shows. Though there are twenty-two crew members in common, those folk work in roles such as drone operators, gaffers, electricians, location scouting, makeup, and stunts.
^ Martin Johnson Heade (1819–1904) Thunder Storm on Narragansett Bay
Martin Johnson Heade (1819–1904) painted Thunder Storm in 1868. It sold at the National Academy of Design's annual exhibition the same year, but it disappeared for seventy-five years until it was sold in 1943 at an antiques store in Larchmont, New York. The Amon Carter acquired it years later in 1977, and it has intrigued viewers ever since. The painting is currently on tour as part of the exhibition Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American Art. The exhibition arrives at the Amon Carter on October 7, 2017.
Samuel Duncan, Head of Library and Archives
The museum has owned the foundry records of the Roman Bronze Works for decades. It has been my job over the last fourteen years to organize, process, and make them available to researchers. We recently digitized our first batch of papers documenting the foundry's mid-twentieth-century work and posted them online, making it easier for researchers to access them.
I spent a lot of time working with the records, sorting and describing all of the art the foundry produced, giving me an interesting inside view of how the work was done. I have seen videos of the casting process, including a film shot at the Roman Bronze Works foundry in 1921. However, I never thought I would get to see the process in person, until we recently made contact with the craftsmen of Midland Manufacturing Company, Fort Worth.
We invited them to the museum to look through the records of the Roman Bronze Works, which offered both parties insights into how the foundry business has changed over the last one hundred years (both companies were founded around the same time). They explained some of the minutiae that only a trained craftsman would know, but I was not prepared for the best part—an invitation to visit their foundry and watch a casting in process.
A Midland craftsman fitting a filter for the sand mold to remove metal impurities
A crucible filled with molten metal ready for pouring
Pouring the metal into the sand mold
A finished cast
Imagine it's September 1919, and you stop to browse the magazines at your local newsstand. There among the array of covers, many featuring celebrities of the day, is one that captures your attention. The cover is different. It's a painting that is bright and colorful. It pulls you in. The magazine's title, Shadowland, intrigues you, as does its subtitle, Expressing the Arts. You note that it is beatifully printed and includes lots of pictures. A few pages in, you discover it's the premier issue and has well-wishing letters from the likes of Samuel Goldwyn, Cecil B. De Mille, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin. Yes, you see plenty of pictures of the latest starlets of film and stage, which tell you this is a fan magazine, but it's more than that. You continue to find a feast of articles: a piece on marionettes, a story on prohibition and the cabaret, an original play, an article about sketching in nature, and another piece by theater producer Lee Shubert, and later on articles on Parisian fashion, artistic photography, and finally a piece on propaganda by Hudson Maxim. This is, you say to yourself, something new.
I can't help but think that the 1919 reader would have responded just as delightfully as we did when we recently discovered a set of Shadowland issues in the library's collection. Only a handful of libraries have holdings, and we're among the very few with almost every issue.
Shadowland lives on today largely based on the extraordinary covers painted by Adolf M. Hopfmüller (1875–1971). He created forty-eight covers during the magazine’s short existence from 1919 to 1923. Eugene V. Brewster, a seasoned publisher of movie magazines, hired Hopfmüller as an art director in 1917, and together they launched the new publication. Born in Germany, Hopfmüller ran away from boarding school to work as a sailor before immigrating to New York City in 1898. He studied at the Art Students League of New York from 1912 to 1913. Following his work on Shadowland, Hopfmüller continued his career as an art director for Harper’s Bazaar.
We quickly learned that information was scant on Hopfmüller, and in the process of researching the artist, we made contact with his grandson, Don Hamann, and his wife, Ruth. Recently the Hamanns visited the museum and helped illumintate Hopfmüller's life through their remembrances, along with sharing the details of the archive of Hopfmüller's art and documents that they possess.
Our work with Shadowland has sparked a couple of initiatives that we hope will help highlight the magazine and artist. Dustin Dirickson, our UNT library school practicum student this semester, is busy digitizing our issues to join those already available in Archive.org. Kathleen Rice, museum docent, who has done extensive research on Hopfmüller, will be writing the first article on the artist in Wikipedia as well as enhancing the existing article on Shadowland.
A selection of Hopfmüller's Shadowland covers remains on view in the library reading room through the end of the year.
The following supplemental blog is by Ruth Hamann, wife of A.M. Hopfmüller's grandson, Don Hamann. Submitted November 5, 2016.
It seems that we’ve always been aware of Shadowland magazine by way of its covers. Don grew up in the same house as his maternal grandfather, A.M. Hopfmüller, and was surrounded by his artwork. The original Shadowland paintings and prints were hung prominently in their house as well as in those of two aunts, daughters of the artist, who lived a few blocks away. Don and his two first cousins decorated their college rooms with their grandfather’s prints, as well as some of his lovely plein-air oils. Over the years, Don and I acquired most of the artist’s work, and finally the magazines and cover proofs as well.
After retiring from my position as a community college reference librarian, I decided it was time to take stock of the whole collection. I created a spreadsheet showing the family holdings of magazines, original paintings, artist proofs, and prints of the covers. We also finally got to spend some time perusing the magazines as a whole and discovered a wealth of articles and images from major writers and artists of the period. Discoveries included articles written by Hopfmüller himself. However, since Shadowland was not indexed, it was difficult to know all it contained. I found that a small subset of the magazine had been digitized and was searchable in Internet Archives, and I began to explore ways to get the rest digitized as well—not an easy task for a retired librarian!
Suddenly, from out of nowhere it seemed, Don received an email from Samuel Duncan, Library Director of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. He had come across Shadowland in the museum's collection of bound periodicals, was enthralled with the cover images, and decided to feature them in an exhibition. Finding a dearth of biographical material on the artist, he and Kathleen Rice, one the museum's docents, performed a creative search that led them to us. We were thrilled to learn that a major museum had “discovered” Grandpa’s cover art. (It has had an underground following in the form of reproductions of isolated covers distributed on the web.)
We were able to fill in some of the blanks in Hopfmüller’s biography, and Sam followed tangents from there. He has also begun the task of digitizing his collection of Shadowland—a real contribution to scholarship (we were able to supply a few that the museum was missing).
We decided to travel to Texas to see the Shadowland exhibit he had mounted in the library and meet our “collaborators.” We were not disappointed! We were welcomed with open arms and spent a good part of a day—and then some—with the library staff, sharing some of our remembrances and information that we had about the life and times of Hopfmüller and his magazine. One vibrant memory we shared was of watching the first moon landing in 1971 together with Don’s 96-year-old grandfather, reminiscing about the highlights of his life. He talked of his adventures at sea—he had spent ten years on square-rigged ships, climbing slippery rigging as they sailed around Cape Horn in an ice storm. Ships and the sea form a recurring element in his art.
Hopfmüller was fond of sharing stories about his relationship with Eugene V. Brewster, whose flamboyance influenced the artist's Shadowland covers. We suspect Brewster played a role in the addition of foreground bathing ladies in the following images of the original painting and actual cover of the May 1920 issue.
The following two images however, from artist’s proofs of the September 1921 and March 1922 covers, are representative of the distinctive style he later developed.
How pleased we are that his creative genius is finally gaining recognition!
From the left: Rachel Panella, Don Hamann, Sam Duncan
Chris Pichler, owner of Nazraeli Press, has been publishing fine photography books since 1989 and during that long career has produced well over 400 titles. Nazraeli continues to be a standard-setting influence in photobook publishing—even in today’s burgeoning arena of photobook publishers.
In late 2008, Pichler hatched the idea for a new series of books, building on an earlier project he started in 2000, One Picture Book, a series of small books that provided an affordable means to acquire original photo prints by important photographers. The new series, Six By Six, would focus on production quality, feature larger books—each with an exhibition-quality signed original photo print—and culminate in six slipcased sets of six books each. The project would be be complete with thirty-six books, and only one-hundred copies of each book would be produced. In an interview with me in 2012, Pichler shared his goals:
“I wanted to see how far we could ‘push’ the quality of offset-printed photobooks … The goals were to put together the most beautifully produced set of books that I could, by artists who I consider to be among the most interesting and influential photographers working today, without resorting to exotic papers and binding materials that would get in the way of the work being presented; and at the same time, to offer collectors of photography books a format and a value not available anywhere else.”
Last week, the Amon Carter’s research library received the final set of books in the Six By Six series. As one of only two public institutions in Texas that have committed to acquiring a complete set, we salute Nazraeli Press (and ourselves) for finishing this amazing seven-year journey. We received the first set in 2010 and the final one in 2016. The library will have the entire set (minus the original prints, which need to stay in storage for protection) in the reading room for a limited time. We invite you to stop in and take a look. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm the books are still on view.
Here is a full list of all titles (most recent at the top).
A selection of Six By Six books
I'm Rachel Panella, the newest staff member in the Library and Archives. I started as Technical Services Librarian and Archivist in late March. So what exactly does a Technical Services Librarian and Archivist do here? Well, one of my first big tasks is to tackle the backlog of books that we have here in the library. These are books that have been acquired by the library, but have not yet been cataloged and processed. I work with describing these new materials and making them available to the public in the library's catalog.
Another aspect of my job is interlibrary loan. I coordinate both the lending and borrowing of books to and from libraries across the country. With 150,000+ holdings here at the library, we frequently send out books to other libraries. In the last year, the library had over 200 loans to 80 libraries and museums around the world. This interactive chart details the institutions that borrowed materials from us.
One of the most exciting aspects of my job is the variety. I am in a unique position because I work with both digital and analog materials in both the library and archives. I have talked a lot about my work in the library, but I have the privilege of getting to work with archival materials as well. I will be assisting our archivist with providing access to both special collections and institutional archives. My chief digital project is the Roman Bronze Works Archive. If you don't know anything about the Roman Bronze Works Archive, it is a collection of the business records of the Roman Bronze Works Foundry, an influential art foundry most active in the early twentieth century. It is comprised of approximately 77 linear feet of ledgers, architectural drawings, client cards and other materials. My position was not only to photograph the client cards, customer cards, and ledgers, but to work with the metadata so that these materials could be easily found in our content management system. Now I will take my experience and I hope to apply it to other collections.
I am very happy to be part of this team and to dive in to my new role at the Amon Carter. If you have any questions, please feel free to visit the library or email me at email@example.com.
Above: Example Roman Bronze Works Client Card
Last weekend, the museum screened John Ford’s epic 1940 drama Grapes of Wrath starring a young Henry Fonda. On April 10, visitors can see They Died With Their Boots On, the 1941 western directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Errol Flynn. These free films are being shown in conjunction with American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood, currently on view in the museum’s special exhibition galleries. With the museum awash in movie magic, it seems a good time to highlight some of the film-related treasures from the museum’s Karl Struss Archive.
Karl Struss (1886–1981), [Filming Ben-Hur], Rome, 1924-25
Struss was a cinematographer in Hollywood for 50-plus years, starting in 1919. He filmed some of the great movies of Hollywood’s Golden Age and won the first Academy Award in 1929 for his work on Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. The museum’s photography collection has thousands of prints and negatives from Struss’s work on various movie sets and publicity shoots. Here are some great stills from the set of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925).
Karl Sruss (1886–1981), [The Circus Maximus — Chariot Race Set], Rome, 1924-25
The chariot race in the 1925 version of Ben-Hur remains, even by today’s standards, a thrilling action sequence and was essentially recreated for the 1959 version starring Charleton Heston. Struss’s snapshots on set often reveal the behind-the-scenes magic of movie making—as is the case in [The Circus Maximus], which shows a set crew tending to an automobile being used to film the racing chariots.
Karl Sruss (1886–1981), [Rome Set — Front], Rome, 1924-25
Karl Sruss (1886–1981), [Rome Set — Back], Rome, 1924-25
These are just a few of the myriad images housed in the museum’s Struss Archive. The museum’s library has more items from his archive on view, including an original program from the first Academy Award ceremony and the institute’s formal letter to Struss announcing his award. The Library, which offers support to researchers at all levels, is open to visitors Wednesday through Saturday and other times by appointment.
Hi, I'm Pamela Skjolsvik, currrently a library science master's student at the University of North Texas. In January, I began my practicum at the museum's research library. As an author and an avid reader, I love books, not only for the information they provide, but as objects. I especially love preserving books so that others can continue to use them in the future, so I was thrilled to have an opportunity to work on a book preservation project in the research library.
So, what am I doing at the Amon Carter? I am helping to preserve the library's collection of bound Harper’s Weekly magazines published in the nineteenth century. As you can see, some of the books in this collection are in need of major repair work. Several have detached boards, while others simply need a custom mylar cover and a good dusting of the text block. Library patrons access these books quite often - mainly to view their spectacular wood engravings. The first step in the preservation process was to assess what the volumes needed. While I don't have time to fix all of the books, my goal is to make protective boxes for 8-10 books and to do minor repairs on those that need less work.
In addition to my focus on the Harper’s Weekly collection, I also repaired two of the library's rare volumes comprising Catlin’s Notes of Eight Years’ Travels and Residence in Europe With His North American Indian Collection. Both volumes had detached spine pieces and damaged corners.
I reinforced the spine with wheat paste and Japanese paper and created a new hollow back spine piece that I tucked beneath the old cloth. In addition, I created a new spine label. You will notice that I condensed the title of the book.
I fixed the corners with a mix of PVA, methyl cellulose and pressure. I also dabbed a bit of paint on the exposed board of the cover for purely aesthetic reasons. Ta da! These books are now stable and can be perused by the patrons of the library.
Here I am in my workspace at the museum:
What do a lawyer, architect, curator, social worker, librarian, student, gallerist, and a retired English teacher have in common? Each attended the museum’s first Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon, held on Saturday, October 10, in the museum's research library. The Amon Carter joins other museums around the country in realizing the important role the community can play in improving the encyclopedia’s content by helping share the art knowledge available in museums.
With access to one of the most important American art research collections in the country, twelve participants spent the day working under the guidance of a seasoned Wikipedian to either create or improve a diverse list of American art articles. With no promise of a byline and knowing the likelihood that their work would be shaped by future Wikipedia writers, our participants came together in a very altruistic way to share the museum's intellectual assets via this collaborative and cumulative knowledge-sharing platform. A clever Wikipedia reporting tool, Herding Sheep, collects the impressive amount of work that was accomplished that day.
Thanks to all our participants who helped us mobilize our knowledge and stay tuned for details about our next Edit-a-Thon!
The Roman Bronze Works of New York was the premier art bronze foundry in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. In 1991, the Amon Carter bought business records of the foundry, recognizing them as key to documenting the work of American sculptors.
Several public sculptures in Fort Worth were cast by the Roman Bronze Works, including the monumental equestrian statue located off Lancaster Avenue in front of the Will Rogers Memorial Center. The statue of Will Rogers sitting on top of his horse was commissioned by Amon G. Carter, publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and longtime friend of Rogers. Rogers was killed in a plane crash in 1935, and when the complex was completed in 1936, Carter named it after him. Carter chose for the commission an artist with a long Texas pedigree, Electra Waggoner Biggs of the Waggoner Ranch family (who were also owners of Fort Worth’s W. T. Waggoner Building).
With the museum’s acquisition of the Roman Bronze Works archive, the story of the statue’s casting can be fully documented. The Amon G. Carter Papers and the Roman Bronze Archive provide both sides of the correspondence and planning of the sculpture from its inception in 1942 to its official unveiling in 1947 (as well as two further copies erected at Texas Tech, Lubbock, and the Will Rogers Memorial Museums, Claremore, Oklahoma).
One of the earliest businessmen in Fort Worth, Julian Feild [sic] opened the first gristmill on the Trinity in 1856. He was also the first postmaster in the city. After this first gristmill floundered, he later opened a more successful mill near what was to become Mansfield. The research library preserves and makes available an early accounting book kept by Feild, with the first entry dated January 1, 1856. It would appear that most of the entries date from that year, though there are entries as late as 1869. As you handle this book, you're instantly taken you back in time, and you find yourself imagining what it must have been like sitting in front of this document, recording what were the mundane transactions of the day, not realizing their captivating power over 150 years later. This document preserves some of the earliest commercial activity in Fort Worth and establishes the importance of Feild as an influential entrepreneur. Read more about Julian Feild in the Handbook of Texas Online and in the Fort Worth History document available on the city's website.