Soft Focus: Atmospheric Abstraction in Modern Painting

January 17 - March 2, 2014

A contrast to the defined parameters and sophisticated lines of geometry in Hard Edge, Cool Logic, this collection surveys a genre of modern painting that valued free form over hard edge, ethereal  mood over logical thought. Many works come from the prized Vincent Melzac collection of modern art at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.

About the Melzac Collection

Vincent Melzac (1914-1989) was an avid art collector who developed a notable collection of American art of the 1950s and 1960s. Melzac was known for his support of emerging artists, frequently acquiring the entire studio production of an artist. He lived in Fort Wayne during the 1940s while employed at the local department store, Wolf and Dessauer, as the Director of Merchandise and Planning Control. A strong supporter of the arts in Fort Wayne, Melzac wrote a weekly column in the Sunday Journal Gazette and was actively involved with the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. He was later appointed the Chief Executive Officer for The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. in 1971.

Having moved to Washington, D.C. in the early 1950s, Melzac became dedicated to the promotion of a group of artists known as the Washington Color School. This group of artists, represented in this selection of works from his private collection and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art's permanent collection, gained widespread acclaim during the 1950s and 1960s and is characterized by their attention to the relationships of color patterns.

In 1977, Melzac's ties to Fort Wayne were reestablished when the museum commissioned him to conduct the planning study that ultimately led to the construction of this facility. Other works from the Vincent Melzac Collection may be found today in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and The Phillips Collection, both in Washington, D.C.

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