The New York State Museum has announced the acquisition of a significant collection of artwork of the historic Woodstock Art Colony. The collection includes 1,500 paintings, works on paper, sculptures, and archival material and represents more than 170 artists from the early 20th century art colony in Woodstock.
Long before the famous music event in 1969, Woodstock was home to what is considered America’s first intentional year-round arts colony: the historic Woodstock Art Colony, founded in 1902. Its artists have been the focus of collector and donor Arthur Anderson for three decades, resulting in the largest comprehensive art collection of its type. The artists in the collection reflect the diversity of the artists who came to Woodstock, including Birge Harrison, Robert Henri, George Bellows, Eugene Speicher, and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. Anderson recently donated the collection to the New York State Museum, where the collection will be transferred and permanently housed.
The Woodstock story begins in 1902, when Byrdcliffe was established as a year-round artists’ colony focusing on the Arts and Crafts movement. The utopian community drew furniture craftsmen, painters, printmakers, photographers, ceramicists, and other artisans to an environment that emphasized individual work over mass production. In 1906, the Art Students League of New York, one of the country’s most important and progressive art schools, moved its summer school to Woodstock, bringing some 200 students a season to the area. The Woodstock Artists Association was founded in 1919 by artists of differing mindsets, but unified in their quest for a centralized exhibition space.
Throughout the 20th century, and now into the 21st century, Woodstock attracted and continues to attract a range of artists working in a variety of media and approaches ranging from realism to abstraction – something that sets Woodstock apart from other art colonies that flourished for a limited time and were centered on a single style.
Photos of select artworks from the collection are available here.
The State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located at 222 Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 am to 5 pm. Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the Museum website.
Painting: St. Lawrence River Sunset by Birge Harrison, oil on canvas, 25 x 39 in.