Hildreth Meière: The Art of Commerce exhibition opens at Fairfield University Art Museum on April 18th




FAIRFIELD, Conn. — The Fairfield University Art Museum is pleased to present Hildreth Meière: The Art of Commerce, opening on April 18 and running through September 21, 2019 in the museum’s Bellarmine Hall Galleries.

Hildreth Meière (1892–1961) was a prolific muralist whose commissioned works adorn the walls and ceilings of public buildings from New York to California. Born in New York, Meière first studied art in Florence, Italy, where she discovered the frescoes and mosaics that were to inform her craft. Continuing her studies in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, she traveled to Europe during the summers where she was introduced to les arts decoratifs, later to be known as Art Deco, of which she became an early American exponent.

Meière’s career was launched in 1923 when architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue hired her to decorate the dome of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Before the commission was complete she was already working on two additional projects for him, most notably the Nebraska State Capitol, which ultimately encompassed eight distinctive works that collectively became her pièce de résistance. She found her muse in monumental buildings; their domes, ceilings, walls, windows, and floors were her canvas. A master of scale, she is best known for conceiving murals and mosaics of arresting beauty, combining glittering hues and flowing forms.

Hildreth Meière: The Art of Commerce will highlight corporate commissions in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey and will include paintings, wall sculptures, preparatory drawings, cartoons and gouache sketches, as well as photographs of finished commissions and mosaic samples. Also included in this exhibition will be full-size cartoons for the mosaics in the lobby of the Travelers Insurance Company in Hartford, CT. Some of Meière’s other best-known works are in New York City, including the Dance, Drama, and Songroundels that grace the limestone façade of Radio City Music Hall and the arch and ark mosaics in the Temple Emanu-El. A versatile artist whose commissions were executed in glass and marble mosaic, tile, terra cotta, tapestry, leather, wood, and metal, Meière understood that her success was in large part due to the positive collaboration she forged with corporate clients, architects, and the talented craftsmen who executed her works. She completed more than 100 commissions that ranged from corporate art to liturgical works.

The exhibition will also include the screening of the New York Times virtual reality film “Tour an Art Deco Masterpiece” from The Daily 360 by Benjamin Norman, Niko Koppel, and Guglielmo Mattioli. This film (which visitors will experience on virtual reality viewers) shows the historic skyscraper at One Wall Street and the restoration of Meière’s red and orange glass mosaics in the lobby, known as the Banking Room or Red Room.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Fairfield University Art Museum has organized a full roster of public programs, including an opening night lecture on April 17 by Joseph A. LoSchiavo, President and CEO, SDG Music Foundation, entitled Classical Influences in the Corporate Murals of Hildreth Meière. This will be followed by a reception with live music by the Survivors Swing Band, free and open to all.

On June 15, the great-granddaughter of Meière, Anne Kupik will give a talk about Meiere’s career in the Diffley Board room which will be followed by a wine and cheese reception.In September, Professor Emeritus, Kurt C. Schlichting, will present a lecture entitled The City Comes of Age: NYC in the Gilded Age. For more information on the exhibition and related programs, and to register for events, visit the museum’s website: www.fairfield.edu/museum.

Hildreth Meière: The Art of Commerce was organized by Carey Mack Weber, Executive Director, in collaboration with the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University and the International Hildreth Meière Association.

Generous support for the exhibition, publication and related programs has been provided by the Ruth Dayton Foundation and the Eichholz Foundation. TownVibe is the exclusive media sponsor of the 2018-2019 season of the Bellarmine Hall Galleries. 

Photo credit: Study for Radio and Television Encompassing the Earth, 1932, gouache on paper. Private Collection.

Vol. 51, # 72

Fairfield University is a modern, Jesuit Catholic university rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from the U.S. and across the globe are pursuing degrees in the University’s five schools. Fairfield embraces a liberal humanistic approach to education, encouraging critical thinking, cultivating free and open inquiry, and fostering ethical and religious values. The University is located on a stunning 200-acre campus on the scenic Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.