A recent large gift of artworks by West Virginia artist Grace Martin Taylor, presented to West Virginia University by her daughter, Lucie Mellert, of Charleston, W.Va., has filled in the gaps in WVU’s collection of Taylor’s works, giving a complete view of the artist from the different phases of her career.
The 49 works were presented to the Art Museum of WVU, where they have become part of WVU’s permanent art collection.
According to Robert Bridges, curator of the Art Museum, Mellert has made donations of her mother’s works in the past, but this is by far the largest.
“I was invited to view the family collection and I worked with Ms. Mellert to hand select some of Grace Martin Taylor’s masterworks, as well as works that fill gaps in our collection,” he said. “After this latest donation, we now have a relatively complete view of the artist through many of her most important works, from all phases of her career.”
“We are very grateful to Lucie Mellert for her generosity and dedication to preserving her mother’s artistic legacy for new generations of art students and museum visitors to study and enjoy.”
Grace Martin Taylor was born in Morgantown in 1903 and graduated from WVU in 1928 before embarking on her career in art, becoming one of America’s innovative printmakers of the second quarter of the 20th century.
She also studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts with American Modernist Arthur Carles in the 1920s and received her master’s degree in Art from WVU in 1949. She continued post-graduate study at a number of prestigious art schools.
She was particularly known for her white-line, color woodblock prints.
In 2011, Mellert donated 27 of the white-line prints to WVU, completing what is probably the only public set of all 31 white-line color woodblock prints that Grace Martin Taylor produced in her lifetime.
Grace Martin Taylor was a distant cousin of internationally known printmaker Blanche Lazzell, also from the Morgantown area and a graduate of WVU, who was one of the artists living at Provincetown, Mass., in 1915 who created the method of producing color prints using a one-block technique adapted from Japanese woodblock printing.
After graduating from WVU, Taylor visited Lazzell in Provincetown and took lessons from her in the white-line method for making color wood block prints. The technique is now commonly referred to as the “Provincetown” print.
Taylor, a prolific artist, worked in Provincetown for 28 summers. She also dedicated her life to teaching art in West Virginia, where she is credited with perpetuating modern art and abstraction.
She was head of the art department and also president (1955-56) of the Mason College of Music and Fine Arts in Charleston, W.Va. In 1956 Mason College joined with Morris Harvey College, which is now the University of Charleston.
Since her death in 1995, Taylor’s art has been exhibited throughout the United States, most notably at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Academy of Design, the Smithsonian Institution, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, ACME Fine Art in Boston and the British Museum.
In addition to WVU, Mellert has donated a large quantity of her mother’s works to The Culture Center in Charleston and to the University of Charleston.
Mellert herself is a photographer whose work appeared for many years in “On the Town,” a regular column of the Sunday Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Mellert’s gift to the Art Museum was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $750 million comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2015.
CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts
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