Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bomb Scare at Newcomb Campus

Kendall Shaw's Bomb Scare at Newcomb Campus, 1957, oil on canvas
Photo by Richard McCabe

In 1957, Kendall Shaw was a student at Tulane University, where he studied with Ida Kohlmeyer, Kurt Kranz, George Rickey and Mark Rothko. He had already studied painting with Ralston Crawford at the Brooklyn Museum, and with O. Louis Guglielmi and Stuart Davis at the New School. Shaw states, "they were my friends, who taught me about architectural structure on a canvas and music possible from hard edge shapes of high key color." This concept, of music and emotion in paint surfaces, Shaw brought with him to develop at Newcomb.

In 1957, someone called in a fake bomb threat to Newcomb College. Shaw remained in his studio on the upper floor of the art building as the other students gathered on the bright green lawn below. In a recent correspondence Shaw related the experience:

When I looked down at the greens below, I was delighted to see that the Newcomb students dotted the grass in multicolored sweaters. (I thought that only in India would one see a large number of intense colored fabrics on a crowded lawn.) High with the color experience, I put it down as quickly as I could do so.

The result of that experience, Bomb Scare at Newcomb Campus, 1957, has been generously donated to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art by his niece, Eileen Madrid. It is a welcome addition to the permanent collection, representing a key moment in the development of his style. It is currently on exhibition on the fourth floor of Goldring Hall.

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