John Folinsbee died in 1972, forgotten, for the most part, outside the confines of the artistic hamlet of New Hope, Pennsylvania, where he lived most of his adult life. Few remembered his forthright realism, the robust brushwork and color that enlivened his canvases, and the dramatic play of light and shadow that infused them with mood and atmosphere. Forty years later, an exhibition review in the New York Times, also published online, mentioned Queensboro Bridge by Folinsbee (included in the show), and linked to the artist’s online catalogue raisonné.
Catalogues raisonnés can do a lot to resurrect the life and work of an artist, but for the work to have continued relevance for contemporary audiences, links like these are increasingly important. The exponential explosion of data on the web can be dizzying, but for a scholar, or an editor of a catalogue raisonné, the availability of relevant and related materials can also be enriching. With the Exhibition and Literature features, for example, there are a number of ways that external content—exhibition reviews or articles, in the case of Folinsbee’s Queensboro Bridge—can be linked to a particular work, thereby broadening the scope in which it is considered. The painting was not illustrated in the Times review, but the link to the artist’s catalogue not only gave the interested reader an image to look at, but access to the more than 1600 documented works in the artist’s oeuvre, essays, and additional content. Conversely, a link from the online catalogue to the review further contextualizes his work by enabling the scholar to examine it alongside images of paintings by his peers. John Folinsbee, linked in.
Kirsten M. Jensen, PhD is Curator and Director of Research for the John F. Folinsbee Catalogue Raisonné, John F. Folinsbee Art Trust.
The exhibition Industrial Sublime: Modernism and the Transformation of New York’s Rivers, 1900-1940, curated by Kirsten M. Jensen and Bartholomew F. Bland, will be at the Hudson River Museum from October 12, 2013–January 17, 2014.
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