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Sarah Austin's Max Ernst
Sarah Austin, Max Ernst, 1988, mixed media, 11.5 x 14.5 x 2.5", collection of Ms. Priscilla Cunningham

Sarah Austin's
Sarah Austin, Chick Austin, 1967, mixed media, 10.5 x 14 x 3", collection of the Sarah G. Austin Foundation, courtesy of the Pavel Zoubok Gallery

The Shadow Boxes of Sarah Austin
Aug. 8, 2008 - Nov. 2, 2008

The shadow box art of Sarah Austin, daughter of Chick Austin, legendary director of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, will be featured by the NBMAA in a special exhibition opening Aug. 8 in the Davis Gallery. It will be on view through Nov 2, 2008

Sarah was born in Hartford in 1935 to a family connected to the city’s founding fathers. She attended Oxford School in West Hartford and grew up in the unique Austin home designed by her father in Hartford’s West End. She studied art in Boston, at the Hartford Art School and abroad, and is said to have nurtured a “secret life” as a collage artist, creating more than 350 shadow boxes during a span of about 25 years. Some 20 of those boxes will be on view in the exhibition.

She constructed them herself of white pine, painted black and protected by Plexiglas. Much of Sarah’s art pays homage to the same writers and artists revered and befriended by her father – the modernists. Sarah, herself, grew up meeting many of the artists she depicts in her artwork, some of whom include Jackson Pollock, Mondrian, Matisse, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein and Max Ernst.

Shy about showing her artwork to anyone, Sarah kept her shadow boxes under wraps for most of her adult life, so the opportunity to view them at the NBMAA is a rare treat. Sarah died of cancer in 1991.

The NBMAA will produce a catalogue that will be for sale in the Museum Shop documenting this exhibition and the work of Sarah Austin.


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