Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What EYE Saw Thanks To Walter Hopps And The Corcoran Gallery Of Art - A Response To Art Critic Paul Richard And His Lecture "What I Saw" At The National Gallery Of Art October 3, 2010

Click on the above picture to enlarge it. This building was The Washington Gallery Of Modern Art in 1967 when Walter Hopps took over as its Director. The name changed to The Corcoran Gallery Of Art Dupont Center in 1968 or 1969. Later it was used for studio space by students of the Corcoran School Of Art. Sometime in the 1970s or 1980s it became a building of law offices. Now it is the economic section of the embassy of Poland.
The address of the building is 1503 21st Street N.W. Washington D.C.

We went to hear former Washington Post art critic Paul Richard deliver a lecture at the National Gallery of Art East Building auditorium last Sunday. It was titled "What I Saw".  Paul was the art critic at the Post for 40 years. I knew him from 1967(when he became the Post art critic)until 1972.
   Here is someone else's review of Paul's lecture. It is very good.

We enjoyed his lecture very much but it was not what I expected. I had thought he was going to talk about all the art shows he reviewed over 40 years as an art critic for The Washington Post.
He did talk about Walter Hopps and how important a figure he was and how helpful Walter was to artists in this area and to Paul himself since Paul began his career as an art critic the very same year Walter arrived in Washington D.C. That was 1967.

And here is something about Walter Hopps that Paul Richard wrote in the Washington Post in 2005 after Walter died.

I met Walter Hopps in 1967. We lived at 2010 P St. N.W. in 1967. That was just around the corner from The Washington Gallery Of Art when Walter took over as Director of that Gallery in 1967. I also spent many hours in the Phillips Collection which was just 2 blocks away from where we lived.

Dupont Circle suddenly became an exciting place to live when Walter Hopps arrived on the scene. Sleepy provincial Washington D.C. got its first taste of modern west coast art. And eventually to many other kinds of modern art that Walter brought to the city.

  I am going to try and list as many of the shows that he brought to the Washington Gallery of Modern Art which changed its name to Corcoran Gallery Dupont Center while he was there. And then in 1970 Walter became Director of The Corcoran Gallery itself and the modern art explosion moved to the big museum with Walter at the helm. It was an exciting time to live in Washington D.C. if you were interested in modern art. Here was this famous wildcat western art curator opening shows and opening people's eyes to what modern could really mean. It seemed anything was possible.

Remember this was all taking place from 1967 to 1972. Starting in 1969 Nixon was in The White House. The Vietnam War was raging. The 1960's changes were blowing full force.
Here is a link to the Corcoran Gallery Of Art Archives page for the year 1969.
And here is a link  to 1970.

 And here is a link to the year 1971.

You can go to the Corcoran Gallery Of Art website and click on exhbitions and then click on archives to see a list of past exhibitions from many other years.

Remember it was Walter Hopps that brought all these shows to D.C. from the years 1968 to 1972. Some were at the Washington Gallery Of Modern Art in 1967. They changed the name to the Corcoran Gallery Dupont Center around 1968 or 1969. And then Walter became Director of the Corcoran Gallery Museum in 1970. He held that job until 1972 or so. Then he moved to a job as curator of modern art at the Smithsonain Museum of American Art.
Here are some of the shows Walter Hopps did in D.C. that I remember best.
Chuck Close
The Hairy Who
Ed Keinholtz
Billy Al Bengston
Cybernetic Serendipity
Eleanor Dickinson
Rockne Krebs, Ed McGowin, Sam Gilliam
Alexander Lieberman
Comics Art Show called The Phonus Balonus Show. The very first underground comic art exhibit in any museum. It was organized by my brother Bhob Stewart and Walter Hopps with the help of Nina Osnos.
The Comic Art Show at The Washington Gallery Of Modern Art.
May 20, 1969 - Jun 15, 1969

Click and double click on these pictures to enlarge them. The pictures were taken by Rachel Stewart in June 1969.
That is me sitting there reading an underground comic book. On a nearby table you can see part of a little file box. We sold underground comics during the show. One day I was downstairs and someone else was supposed to be upstairs watching the money and the comics. And they thought I was upstairs. In any event when I went back upstairs all the money from the little box was gone.

This was the official title of the Comic Art Show:
The Phonus Balonus Show of Some Really Heavy Stuff [Dupont Center]

Paolo Soleri
Click on the name Walter Hopps in the Labels below to see all my other posts on Walter Hopps and The Corcoran Gallery Of Art.