mod·ern·ist – ˈmädərnəst/ noun 1. a believer in or supporter of modernism, especially in the arts.
Maud Morgan was a modernist, abstract expressionist, daughter, sister and divorcee. ‘Throughout her career, Morgan was a source of inspiration for dozens of artists, both young and old. For women artists, in particular, she served as a role model. She encouraged them to pursue their careers without foregoing the privilege and pleasure of family life. Her joie de vivre was infectious and touched the lives of all who knew her.’
In 1980 pioneer film maker, Richard Leacock (head of MIT film department at the time) directed a short film about Maud Morgan. The film features a Morgan painting in her studio explaining periods of her life. A small glimpse into Morgan’s past and feelings of her upbringing. Admitting that her parents held a greater appreciation of her brothers – Morgan at one point did not want to be a ‘girl’ so she could do what she wanted.
Morgan reveals in the middle of the film that she felt she was constantly waiting. ‘Waiting for… whatever it was.. waiting for this, or waiting for that – just waiting. Finally there will be time, I hope – to paint. That was the theme song that ran through it all – pretty much always underneath this unformulated real conviction, that this is what I should be doing and that this was really me. Finally this was me. Outside I was somebody else.’ It’s almost as if Morgan realized at 77 years old (the year she filed for divorce) that she could just be herself. Although throughout her career – Morgan was no shrinking violet!
In 1938, Morgan showed her first exhibit, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as the Whitney Gallery purchased some of her works. Just as her career was blooming, she decided to move with her husband to Andover Massachusetts, where he had acquired a teaching position.
Morgan is on the bottom right.
As a woman artist working in a Boston suburb, away from the New York spotlight, Morgan’s chances for serious recognition became severely reduced. In an 1996 interview in the Boston Globe, Morgan confirmed that she believed her move to Andover sorely undermined the possibility of becoming recognized.
“I was in just the right hot spot. I think I could have made it into–I’m not saying the top echelon–but I could have made . . . a certain kind of fame.” It has been speculated that another factor in Morgan’s lack of fame was that her work was not identifiably feminine. In contrast to other noteworthy female artists, Morgan’s work, as critic Mary Sherman stated, did not conform to “our notions of female art.”‘
We thank Morgan for her efforts in being honest about herself, and being a constant form of inspiration in the art world.
Check out the short Film, Light Coming Through: A Portrait of Maud Morgan, here!