Our Permanent Collection primarily holds contemporary American works of art. Consisting of important Utah artists and expanding to bring in artists from around the country, the museum collects, preserves, and exhibits art and related materials.
Have a look at the Woodbury Art Museum's Permanent Collection on the Utah Valley University Digital Collections database to get a closer look.
Permanent Collection Selections
featuring Josef Sudek & guest artists Lyuba Prusak and Daniel Fairbanks
MAR - SEP 2016
Photographs, sculpture and paintings influenced by the Czech Republic
Generously donated in 2002 by Hal Wing, this collection is comprised of works from four significant photographers. Included are scenes of Japanese street life captured by photojournalist W. Eugene Smith, abstract images by Aaron Siskind, costal landscapes by Paul Caponigro, and Czech cityscapes by famed photographer Josef Sudek. These four skilled artists are celebrated as heavyweights in 20th century photography, during which the medium increasingly represented urban themes, commercial ventures, and abstract compositions. Each piece in the collection is a black and white Silver Gelatin Print. Together, the photographs stand as a testament to the history of modern photography.
W. Eugene Smith (1918-1978) is a widely published photojournalist with a focus on social responsibility. Smith was wounded in by mortar fire during WWII, where he was a LIFE correspondent in the Pacific Theater and pioneered the photo essay format. Smith also extensively documented life in Pittsburg, and returned to Japan to detail the effects of Minimata disease, caused by industrial pollution.
Aaron Siskind (1903-1991) purchased his first camera in 1929. From there, he built a career on socially engaged projects and symbolic, abstract works. Siskind moved more towards abstraction in the 1940’s and sought to make each photograph a self-contained object. He photographed extensively until his death in 1991.
Paul Caponigro (b. 1932) began photographing as a teenager and was an established working photographer by age 21. Caponigro attended the California School of Fine Arts and the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he studied under Minor White. As one of the masters of landscape photography, his highly personalized photographic vision has led to two Guggenheim Fellowships and three National Endowment for the Arts grants.
Josef Sudek (1890-1976) was born in Kolin and later worked as a bookbinder in Prague. During WWI he was wounded and his right arm amputated, but while recuperating at a veteran’s hospital he discovered photography. Sudek used large-format cameras, worked without an assistant, and was a founding member of the Czech Photography Society. He is known as the Poet of Prague for his rich, tonal palettes and photographs of the city and surrounding landscape.
Dr. Malan Jackson and his wife Linda donated a nice range of Mongolian art in 2002 as one of the founding collections of the Woodbury Art Museum. The pair have a special relationship with nation and have been collecting paintings and works on paper from artists with ties to Mongolia. The work in the WAM has come in over ten year’s time and represents some of the museum’s only contemporary Asian art.
The span of the collection covers multiple subjects, including traditional scenes, abstract compositions, and natural landscapes. These works were created between 1995-2008 in Mongolia and Utah. Many images were recently framed for viewing in the Permanent Collection galleries during selected rotations.
The more traditional scenes showcase both historical figures and people within community settings. Highlights include Genghis Khan sitting on a throne and a beautiful image of a mother and child in traditional clothing. The large scale genre paintings depicting villages are active and full. They illustrate a multitude of daily moments happening all at once from a two dimensional, aerial perspective. Some pieces also include a thin red line running throughout, thought to signal movement.
Abstract and landscape paintings round out the collection. Known for their vibrant colors, the abstracted works are some of museum visitor’s favorites. The landscape paintings include the Mongolian steppe and the Gobi Desert. Many paintings focus on mountain vistas during varying seasons. Surprisingly similar, these mountain views are found in Mongolia and Utah.
Leighton-Lundberg Clarke called her painting thesis a “Maximal Statement” and her work is rich with symbolism.
What is maximalism?
Maximalist painting evolved as a reaction to the emphasis on severe reduction and simplification of form found in the Minimalist and Bauhaus movements. Even though minimalist paintings “lack identifiable subjects, colors, surface textures, and narrative elements” (Gardner, 1082), the embodied ideas tend to be quite complicated, and in some cases require a multifaceted explanation to understand them. In contrast to minimalism, “maximalism should speak a thousand words instead of needing a thousand word[s]” to explain it. Maximalism exudes richness, excess, heavy technical layering, dense composition, and visually stimulating narratives. Maximalist compositions tend to also embody horror vacui (from Latin "fear of empty space"), a stylistic element in which the entire surface of an artwork is filled with detail.
The maximalist, color-laden approach is the artist’s signature style. Her unique perspectives and flattened planes combine with her full canvases to make her work unmistakable. Leighton-Lundberg Clarke most actively painted between the 1970’s-1990’s on large-scale canvases with self-painted frames. She created several series of works, all pictured in richly patterned and colorful interior settings, including reclining female figures, family groups with set dinner tables, and Favorite Ladies. Favorite Ladies paintings are her most distinguished works and can be found in nearly every Utah museum, as well as in private collections.
The Woodbury Art Museum’s Entertaining Favorite Ladies III, pictured here: http://contentdm.uvu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/perm/id/66/rec/9, contains rich tones and a table set for some of the most identifiable ladies in art history. Leighton-Lundberg Clarke’s prodigiously purple and blue piece is meant to prompt viewers to ask “What do you think of the way he painted me?” Meaning, assess how the famed male artists like Picasso and Vermeer represented these nameless, but recognizable women. Each version of the Favorite Ladies is different in hue and pictured women, but they all ask this same question.
The Cloward Collection of Western American Art was donated in 2002 by Sherman and Sheryle Cloward. Featuring bronze works and painted western scenes, it is one of the only named WAM collections to include sculpture. The body of work adeptly pictures individuals interacting with the land, most importantly representing Native Americans’ original stewardship. The Cloward Collection is shown during Permanent Collection rotations, most recently in a 2013 retrospective.
Stan Johnson’s bronze works are a significant part of the collection. Johnson a Utah native is known for his detailed portrayal of Native American traditions, dances and attire. The image to the left, Sioux Buffalo Hunter, is Johnson’s real time interpretation of an essential scene from Sioux life. While hunting buffalo was extremely dangerous, it provided food, shelter, clothing, and many other items used in everyday life. This scene shows how intense and overwhelming hunting buffalo must have been. Johnson’s use of realistic muscular structure and tension, depicting an action-packed moment, gives the piece a feeling of energy and excitement. His attention to detail is captured especially well because of the nature of bronze; bronze expands slightly just before it sets, allowing it to fill in the finest details of a mold.
Also featured in this collection are several panoramic and Native American frontier oil paintings by renowned Western artist Gary Kapp. These idealized landscapes connote Bierstadt-like reverence and truly celebrate the landscape. A beautiful red rock setting by Nina Schumann is another highlight of the collection.