Collection Artwork
2001 10 pr w01
Joan Snyder (born Highland Park, New Jersey, 1940)
And Always Searching For Beauty
2001
oil, acrylic, papier mache, herbs on linen
canvas size: 78 x 102 x 4 in.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gifford Phillips in honor of their daughter, Marjorie Phillips Elliott, Skidmore College, Class of 1980
2001.10

Object Label

When looking at And Always Searching for Beauty, I see music and celebration. I see the flawless intricacies of natural beauty and the feminine wisdom of rebirth. The symphonies of Fantasia come to mind, and the childlike fascination with dancing brooms. Snyder compressed the elation of rich earth and loose watery petals into a buoyant surface. She extracted herbs and planted them in beds of painted gestures. Snyder finds a way inside of the physical world and form, expressing a corporeal spirit in her textural language. She once described this ability as an ambition to “pull art out of flesh.” Asking the viewer to step in and consider its sensual properties, the painting possesses the temperance of breath and skin, wind and herbs. The title tells us it is about hope. It is about continuing onward in the search for something fleeting.

This painting possesses the size and grandeur of a history painting – it’s aesthetic glory overpowers us on the first look. The laws and loopholes of magic overrun the geometry of the piece, expanding outward beyond the edges of the canvas. And then we go back, burrowing into the mysterious elements – the foreign objects and strokes delicately placed in a nest of imagination. The tangible herbs and papier-maché could spark anyone’s visual curiosity, there is so much to pick at and chew on. I come away from And Always Searching for Beauty hungry for something ripe and fruitful.

–Erin Barach, Skidmore College, ’06

From the exhibition: Realms of Earth and Sky: Indian Painting from the Fifteenth to the Nineteenth Century (January 31 – May 17, 2015)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.

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