Alexandria Museum of Art: On Ancient Wings and Harmonic Fascination

Friday, February 5, 2016

ON ANCIENT WINGS (The Sandhill Cranes of North America) offers a soothing contrast with the neighboring exhibit. Mr. Michael Forsberg has devoted countless hours to his passion surrounding these magnificent birds. He follows the sandhill cranes from Alaska to Cuba, passing by Louisiana as he documents their life from an egg to a lifeless carcass. In 38 stunning photographs, he captures an amazing diversity of shots, from individual birds to enormous flocks, always done with sensitivity and artistry. For those interested in conservation, nature photography or just beautiful pictures, this exhibit deserves your attention.


HARMONIC FASCINATION: The Art of Max Papart fills the third floor gallery of the Alexandria Museum of Art (AMoA). This impressive collection of over 100 works was the gift of Steven and Jadwiga Markoff to the AMoA and represents a gorgeous example of Papart’s work over time. Max Papart was born in Marseilles, France in 1911 and he studied briefly at the Ecole de Beaux Arts. He lived and worked in Marseilles through the years of World War II, participating in some way in the resistance. In 1972, he visited New York and New Orleans and cultivated a relationship with Kenneth Nathan of the Nathan Gallery in New Orleans, where he died at the age of 82.


In this exhibit, nicely displayed in the open space of the upstairs galleries, various members of the collection committee for the museum have provided comments on selected pieces in the show. These commenters, including Roberta Walters, Nydia Freedman, Lawrence Menache, Phillip Laborde, Joan Brunson and Ann Collins, offer interesting observations on fragments of the collections (Odalisque, drawings, music, birds, figures and performers respectively.)


The works themselves are mostly large limited edition aquatints, with a rug and some nice porcelain sculptures offering some diversity. The drawings have a sophisticated classical quality to them, as do the subjects Papart chose. The aquatints, mostly abstract, with a few figurative elements added to some works, have a wonderful sense of color and composition. There are several examples of recurrent themes, such as birds or performers. What dominates, however is the bold use of blocks of colors and shapes creating an almost Leger-like movement.


Alexandria is fortunate to have such a group of works from an artist with a strong Louisiana connection. Hopefully this collection can form the nucleus of a traveling show that can be exchanged for equally strong collections from other regional or national museums. There is also an interesting interactive 4.0 Beta component that allows viewers to decide whether to “Hang it, Sell it or Hide it” for any particular piece. Who says vox populi is not important in the fine arts? You don’t have to be a member of the collection committee to have your voice heard and counted.


David J. Holcombe, M.D., M.S.A.




Dr. David Holcombe has demonstrated a life-long interest in the arts.  Starting with art courses at U.C. Davis during the turbulent 70’s, he continued painting and writing for the next five decades.  His works have been accepted in many local, regional and state juried shows and are found in collections all over the world.


David is one of TicketCentral’s volunteer bloggers for the 2015-16 season.