The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University presents Goddess, Heroine, Beast: Anna Hyatt Huntington’s New York Sculpture, 1902-1936. The exhibition will be open to the public from Wednesday, January 22 to Saturday, March 15, 2014.
Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876–1973) was once among New York City's most prominent sculptors. At a time when very few women were successful artists, she had a thriving career. She exhibited often, traveled widely, received critical acclaim at home and abroad, and won awards and commissions. In 1915, Hyatt Huntington created the first public monument in New York City by a woman: Her Joan of Arc, located on Riverside Drive at 93rd Street, is also the city’s first monument dedicated to a historical woman. More than 13 feet in height, the martial equestrian heroine is clad in armor from head to toe and cast in bronze. Hyatt Huntington also became famous for her animal sculptures, which combine vivid emotional depth with skillful realism.
Hyatt Huntington’s work is now displayed in many of New York’s leading institutions and outdoor spaces, including Columbia University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Academy of Design, the New-York Historical Society, the Hispanic Society, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Central Park, Riverside Park and the Bronx Zoo. Despite the presence of her sculptures throughout the city, Hyatt Huntington is not well-recognized today. The Wallach exhibition aims to redress that by focusing on her New York career, which is of particular note.
Hyatt Huntington worked on every scale, from monumental sculpture to medals. To do justice to her range, this exhibition brings her largest statues into the gallery with digital technology. Visitors will be able to see the Riverside Park Joan of Arc in its actual, larger-than-life scale, in the round and in detail, through high-resolution, rotational photography created for the exhibition by Columbia’s Media Center for Art History. Alongside these digital projections of the monument are smaller versions of the same statue, including a bronze, 45-inch-high sculpture and a commemorative medal. Also in the exhibition is Hyatt Huntington’s life-size, bronze Diana of the Chase, from 1922. Both Diana, goddess of beasts and of the hunt, and Joan of Arc represented alter egos of the artist, who was tall and strong.
Fourteen of Hyatt Huntington’s animal sculptures are at the Wallach, ranging from jaguars and monkeys to greyhounds and cranes, as well as rotational films of her life-size jaguar statues at the Bronx Zoo. The last room in the exhibition features newly rediscovered sculptures of hands and a film about stone carving made for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1930, which shows Hyatt Huntington carving her monumental jaguars.
Anne Higonnet, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Art History at Barnard College and Columbia University, organized the exhibition, in collaboration with Columbia MA student Kitty Dare, as assistant project coordinator. A class of PhD, MA and BA students from Barnard and Columbia assisted and contributed original new scholarship, which both clarifies Hyatt Huntington’s production, trajectory and work dates, and reconsiders her pioneering contributions to American sculpture in an effort to revive her reputation.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Wallach Art Gallery is publishing an illustrated, 48-page catalogue and producing a website, scheduled to launch with the opening of the exhibition. This exhibition is made possible by an endowment from the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Foundation. An anonymous benefactor funded the catalogue.
“All around New York City, in its parks, zoos and museums, beloved sculpture by Anna Hyatt Huntington remains, its author forgotten,” said Professor Higonnet. “This exhibition, its catalogue and the website are products of an experiment in applied teaching and collaborative digital publishing. With this project, Columbia University also had the opportunity to collaborate with many of its institutional neighbors.”