James Fitzgerald was born in Milton, Massachusetts in 1899. He studied at
the Massachusetts School of Art from 1919 to 1923, at the Boston
Museum of Fine Arts School from 1923 to 1924. Between 1923 and 1928, he sailed on fishing ships and freighters, eventually settling in Monterey, California, where he established a studio and became associated with a group including John Cage, Martha Graham, E. F. Ricketts, and John Steinbeck. From 1936 to 1942, Fitzgerald taught painting in California and in 1944 moved to Monhegan, Maine, which he had first visited in 1923. From 1944 to 1971, he worked primarily at Monhegan making annual trips to Mt. Katahdin.
During the last six years of his life (1965-71) James Fitzgerald made five extended trips to Ireland where he produced a large and integrated body of work dealing with themes of Irish life and the aesthetic and moral concerns of the artist. This material creates a monumental summation of Fitzgerald’s art. It incorporates seven visual and narrative themes: The bow wave; the Aran rowers; Sarah, spinning and feeding chickens; Irish children; dancing girls of Aran; launching the Curragh; and rowers portrait studies. The dominant idea of the work is the Aran Rowers, which becomes a unifying metaphor and a constant. The studies for the rowers were eventually to end up in a large monumental canvas of which only the final preliminary study was achieved. This is in the Plattsburgh collection and gives direction to the exhibition.
At the time Ed and Anne Hubert were gifting groups of James’s Fitzgerald’s work to various museums, it was decided that most of the material which came to the Plattsburgh State Art Museum would be from the Irish period, giving the collection a cohesiveness and completeness.
In addition to the “Irishness” present in the exhibition we see the main characteristics of the Fitzgerald style clearly defined – a delicate balance between story and abstraction, the strength of the gesture, and the authority of the brush, a sure and clean definition of the subject and the structure of the work.
Fitzgerald died suddenly on the island of Arranmore, Co. Donegal, Ireland, in 1971.
View the Exhibition:
The exhibition is presented in seven primary catagories. Each group contains sketches, studies, drawings and paintings based on a common theme.
Dancing Girls of Aran
Launching the Curragh
Rowers Portrait Study
All works in the exhibition are the Gift of Edgar and Anne Hubert.
This Exhibition is sponsored, in part, by the Plattsburgh State Student Association, the Winkel Endowment, and the Friends of Art.
Website: David Driver and Marylou Beauharnois