A Rhapsody in Blue
George Gershwin painting the portrait of fellow composer Arnold Schoenberg, 1936. Photo by Gabriel Hackett/Archive Photos/Getty Images.
February 10 – June 16, 2024
Located on the third floor of The Baker Museum
George Gershwin (1898-1937) is widely known and beloved for his innovative work as a composer, songwriter and pianist, but his passion and talents extended to the visual arts as well. Before his untimely death from a brain tumor at the age of 38, he produced numerous paintings, drawings and photographs. In addition, his collection of modern art was one of the most significant of his day, including about 150 paintings, drawings, sculptures and decorative objects by artists such as Picasso, Modigliani, Kandinsky, Chagall, Siqueiros, Utrillo, Vlaminck, Benton, Weber, Bellows, Derain, Soutine, Noguchi and others. This exhibition will take visitors on a tour through Gershwin's visual dimension, expanding our understanding of the composer, his music and his impact on modern and contemporary art.
Gershwin delighted in the immediacy of painting, telling his cousin, the artist Henry Botkin, "What a great advantage painting has over composing! When I finish a canvas it's there. That's the end. But a composition... after writing it, I have to assemble sixty musicians, and make arrangements of the music before I can hear the results of my efforts."
He described painting and music in complementary terms, explaining that the two "spring from the same elements, one emerging as sight, the other as sound." As fellow composer Kay Swift recalled: "[George] turned to painting and turned back to music, and it was all rhythmic." According to his biographer Merle Armitage, Gershwin was “in love with color and his palette in paint closely resembled the color of his music. Juxtaposition of greens, blues, sanguines, chromes and grays fascinated him.”
George Gershwin and Modern Art: A Rhapsody in Blue will be the first major museum exhibition devoted to the composer’s passion for the visual arts, featuring paintings, sculptures and other artworks from Gershwin’s collection by leading modern artists; paintings, drawings and photographs created by Gershwin; works by noteworthy artists who were inspired by Gershwin and his music, such as Isamu Noguchi, Kara Walker and Andy Warhol; and select ephemera and correspondence between Gershwin and members of his circle. The exhibition is organized by Artis—Naples, The Baker Museum and curated by Olivia Mattis, Ph.D., guest curator, and Courtney McNeil, museum director and chief curator.
Visit the Exhibition
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George Gershwin at home in New York with the sculpture George Gershwin (1929, bronze) by Isamu Noguchi (American, 1904-1988), September 1, 1934. Photo by CBS via Getty Images.
Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884-1920). Portrait of Dr. Devaraigne, 1917. Oil on canvas, 21 ½ x 18 in. Collection of Bruce Toll.
George Gershwin at 1019 Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills, California, March 1937, with Modigliani beside him. Photo by Rex Hardy. Gershwin Collection, Library of Congress.
Oskar Kokoschka (Austrian, 1886-1980). Pyramids at Gizeh, 1929. Oil on canvas, 34 5/8 x 51 1/8 in. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of the Friends of Art, 54-89.
David Alfaro Siqueiros (Mexican, 1896–1974). Autorretrato con espejo (Self-portrait with Mirror), 1937. Cellulose nitrate paint on board coated with phenolic resin, 30 × 24 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2017.3900.
Reflections on George Gershwin and Modern Art, a conversation with Michael Feinstein
February 11 at 1pm
March 13 at 2pm
George Gershwin is featured in multiple events throughout the Artis—Naples seasonMore Info
George Gershwin and Modern Art is organized by Artis—Naples, The Baker Museum and curated by Olivia Mattis, Ph.D., guest curator, and Courtney McNeil, museum director and chief curator.
This exhibition is generously sponsored by the Collier County Tourist Development Council, Commerce Trust, Roger and Kathy Marino, Waterside Shops and Jeri L. Wolfson.