Historical Journal

Journal Archives,Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Archives,Reviews

Phoebe Toland: Recent Works

November 14, 1986
Judith Stein

A writer and curator, studied at Barnard College, and has a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Eye of the Sixties, Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art, (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016). Her curatorial projects include Red Grooms, A Retrospective, for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and The Figurative Fifties, New York School Figurative Expressionism, co-curated with Paul Schimmel. Her exhibition, I Tell My Heart: The Art of Horace Pippin, traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1995, and earned a best catalogue award from AICA/USA. Her articles, interviews and reviews have appeared in Art in America, Art News, and The New York Times Book Review, as well as on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air and Morning Edition. Among her honors is a Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant; a Pew Fellowship for literary non-fiction; and a Lannan Foundation writing residency in Marfa, Texas.

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"The lean female persona, glimpsed as if in flight, handily traverses the negative and positive ground."

November 14 through December 13,1986
Phoebe Toland was born in 1952 in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. She earned her MFA. from Montana State University in Bozeman in 1983 and her B.FA. from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1975. She is currently a technician in the Conservation Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has had a solo exhibition at the More Gallery, Philadelphia, in 1985 and has designed the sets and backdrops for several theatrical productions in Montana. Toland is the recipient of an Artist Residence fellowship from Ucross Foundation, Ucross, Wyoming. In Phoebe Toland’s large, unstretched canvases, figuration and abstraction pass gracefully back and forth across each others’ boundaries. Undulant folds and crisp ledges shift easily into suggestions of limbs, torsos and arms. A charged energy crackles from the paintings as dark, moody colors alternate with intimations of covert, interior light. The lean female persona, glimpsed as if in flight, handily traverses the negative and positive ground.
Toland’s’ earlier paintings utilized collaged cloth. In one work on view, Oh Yes I Sceam, she returns to this technique, augmenting the canvas with cotton sheeting to enhance the spatial illusion. Indeed, the feel and look of fabric, whether on bolts, cut or folded, still exerts a powerful influence on her aesthetic sensibility.

Judith Stein
Associate Curator and
Coordinator, Moms Gallery

The work of Phoebe Toland is shown courtesy of the artist.
1. You Missed It, 1985
oil on cloth, 82 x 100″
2. Never Filled, 1985
oil on cloth, 73 x 100′
3. Free, 1986
oil on cloth, 82 x 96″
4. Passive, Aggressive, 1986
oil on cloth, 84 x 96″
5. The Old Yin-Yang, 1986
oil on muslin, 84 x 98″
6. Weight of the World, 1986
oil on muslin, 86 x 108″
7. House of Tears 1986
oil on canvas, 84 x 112″
8. Ruined Time, Wasted Lives, 1986
oil on canvas, 84 x 114″
9. (working at) Letting Go, 1986
oil on canvas, 84 x 114″
10. Untitled, 1986
pastel on muslin, 38 x 56″
11. Oh Yes I Sceam, 1986
oil on canvas, 84″ x 110″
The Morris Gallery displays the work of outstanding contemporary artists with a connection to Philadelphia, determined by birth, schooling, or residence. The exhibitions are chosen by a committee composed of area artift. I personnel, and collectors, and the curatorial staff of the AcadIemy. Currently serving on the Morris Gallery Exhibition Committee are: Cynthia Carlson, Paolo Colombo, Bill Freeland, Faith Ginsburg, Dr. Helen Herrick, Cheryl McClenney, Carrie Rickey, Eileen Rosenau, Judith Tannenbaum; Academy staff Judith Stein, Morris Gallery Coordinator, Frank Goodyear, Jr., Linda Bantel, Kathleen Foster; and Academy students Anna Yates and Treacy Ziegler.
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