Robert Manning: A Retrospective
Catamount Arts is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition Robert Manning: A Retrospective, examining the career of the New England artist Robert Manning. The show will open Saturday, May 7 from 5-7 pm, with a gallery talk by the artist at 6 pm, and be on view in Catamount Art’s Main Gallery through Saturday, July 9, 2016. The opening reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served, and all are welcome to attend.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION: Artist Robert Manning first viewed director Robert Flaherty’s film Man of Aran in 1958 while he was still a student at Pratt. The 1934 black and white film was inspirational, but Manning was not able follow that inspiration to its source until more than twenty-five years had passed. Traveling to the Aran Islands of the west coast of Ireland in the summer of 1984, he began drawing one of the many stonewalls that snake across the windswept landscape, and felt immediately connected to a subject that combined literal meaning and abstract form. Subsequent trips to track down Neolithic monuments left by prehistoric tribes led him to discover dolmens, menhirs and stone circles in England, France, Ireland, and Scotland, and revealed a path towards personal expression. Work in this exhibition not only features Manning’s efforts to depict stones realistically, but also to imagine their rich history in fantastical, highly colorful paintings of what lies beneath the soil. Also featured are early autobiographical drawings, paintings and assemblage sculpture that explore his personal history as an Irish American—works that inform and help personalize Manning’s artistic exploration of stones done in order to explain where he came from and where he wanted to go.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1933, artist Robert Manning attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from 1951-53 before entering the US Army in 1954. Serving a 14-month tour of duty as a high speed Morse Code radio operator in Ulm, Germany, he was able to tour Europe and visit museums in England, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain. Upon returning to the US, he finished his education at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY with funding from the G.I. Bill of Rights, and earned a BFA with honors in 1958. Manning later received an MA in Studio Arts from the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, CT in 1970.
Like so many artists in his generation, he traveled to Mexico City in the late 1950s where he lived and taught English and art from 1958-60. Returning to the US in 1961, Manning worked as an arc welder at the Lock Pipe Company in Newington, CT, where he created welded metal sculpture on his lunch hours. In 1962 he was hired to teach art in the Glastonbury Public Schools and went on to teach at Manchester Community College and the University of Hartford, all in Connecticut.
Inspired by a viewing of director Robert Flaherty’s 1934 film Man of Aran, Manning traveled to Ireland in 1984 and became fascinated by Neolithic monuments, dolmens and stone circles. This led to subsequent trips throughout England, Ireland, Scotland, and France to view these ancient stones on site. Manning’s art reflects this interest, and he has also researched and lectured on the subject in venues throughout New England, including Dartmouth College, the Fairbanks Museum and Vermont College. His work has also appeared in group-shows at numerous venues, including the Benton Museum at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT; El Museo del Arte in Lima, Peru; the Helen Day Art Center, Stowe, VT; the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT; and many other institutions.
After taking early retirement from teaching in 1991, Robert Manning moved to Vermont in 1993. He has served on the Board of Directors of Catamount Arts since 1996 and on the Speaker’s Bureau for the Vermont Humanities Council since 2001. Robert Manning currently lives and works in Ryegate, VT, where he resides with his wife Libby Hillhouse.
FREE SCREENINGS: During the course the exhibition, Catamount Arts will present free screenings of director Robert Flaherty’s 1934 film Man of Aran. Screenings of this rarely seen movie are free an open to the public. For a schedule and other programs at Catamount Arts, please visit www.catamountarts.org.