Collection Artwork
A large, textured, abstract painting of a sunflower field with red, abstract poppies filling the center of the painting.
Joan Snyder (born Highland Park, New Jersey, 1940)
And Always Searching For Beauty
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

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: About Painting (June 26 – September 26, 2004)

Ongoing Research

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

Tang Collective Catalog

A photograph can never capture the vitality of Joan Snyder’s And Always Searching For Beauty. Deeply personal and profoundly universal, Snyder draws from nature while simultaneously reflecting on intimate feelings. She transports us into a garden of dynamism where the flowers dissolve into layers of paint, and the plants transform into bold strokes. With its rich colors and textures, the painting becomes a series of expressionist gestures and movements. These raw energies may be elusive, ephemeral, violent, and even vulnerable, but they are always searching for beauty.
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