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“Modern Visions, Modern Art: The Cone Sisters in North Carolina” Featured During the Fall Exhibition Celebration at Blowing Rock Art & History Museum on August 23

Ben Silbert (1893-1940). Portrait of Dr. Claribel Cone, 1926. Etching on paper. 12.625 x 9.75 inches. 1950.1105. Weatherspoon Art Museum, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Bequest of Etta and Claribel Cone, 1949.
Ben Silbert (1893-1940). Portrait of Miss Etta Cone, 1926. Etching on paper. 13.625 x 10.8125 inches. 1950.1104. Weatherspoon Art Museum, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Bequest of Etta and Claribel Cone, 1949.

By Gianna Holiday

The Cone sisters’ art collection has become renowned worldwide for both its content and the character of its collectors. Those interested will now have a chance to view some of their works and collection at the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, from Aug. 3 to Nov. 30, 2019.

The Museum’s seasonal Exhibition Celebration for the fall season will be held on Friday, August 23 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The Fall Exhibition Celebration will feature “Modern Visions, Modern Art: The Cone Sisters in North Carolina” as one of the three exhibitions being celebrated that night; the other two featured exhibitions are “Modern Visions, Mountain Views: The Cones of Flat Top Manor” and “Southern Strands: North Carolina Fiber Art”. Hors-d’oeuvres, drinks, and music will be offered throughout the evening during the Exhibition Celebration. The event provides an opportunity for local community members to meet Blowing Rock Art & History Museum staff, artists exhibiting their works, featured historians, and fellow cultural enthusiasts from across the High Country. The Fall Exhibition Celebration is free, family friendly, and open to the public. 

Claribel and Etta Cone were daughters of German Jewish immigrants; as two siblings in a family of thirteen, these women learned to embrace the opportunities that their era provided them with.
As their brothers grew the family’s business in textiles and improved the family’s financial standing, the sisters were able to receive financial support in order to pursue interests of their own.

Although the sisters’ personalities and interests were vastly different, they did continue to share a love for travel, education, art and the avant-garde which led them to gather their significant collection of modern art together. By 1900, at age 36, Claribel was a research pathologist and president of the Woman’s Medical College in Baltimore. Meanwhile Etta, at age 30, was a pianist and managed the family household; she began purchasing art in 1898, when she was given $300 to decorate the family home by an older brother. She used that money to buy five paintings by Theodore Robinson, signifying the beginning of the art collection gathered by the Cone sisters throughout the rest of their lives.

The sisters were heavily involved in the art community with friends like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, two world-renowned artists who were just up-and-comers at the time. Subsequently, the Cone sisters’ particular social contacts produced an advantage from which they could compile a world famous art collection.

Modern Visions, Modern Art: The Cone Sisters in North Carolina will demonstrate a compelling selection of works on paper, paintings, and sculptures by artists in the collection who drew the admiration and attention of Claribel and Etta Cone. These artists include Henri Matisse, Sarah Stein, Jacques Villon, Marie Laurencin, Ben Silbert, John Graham, Everett Bryant, Rembrandt van Rijn, Gertraud Brausewetter, Ilse Breit, and Bernice Oehler. Works from their collection contain concepts including bodies in motion, women expressing themselves, the simple moments of everyday life, in addition to the views of both real and imagined landscapes.

The Cone sisters collected paintings, sculptures, and prints, as well as textiles, jewelry, and trinkets for their own enjoyment, but continued to believe that art should encourage conversation and that communication was vital in such a complicated world. To ensure that such conversations were ongoing, the sisters shared their collection with two museums: the Baltimore Museum of Art in Maryland and the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC.

This exhibition will provide an opportunity for those who are familiar with the Cone sisters, as well as those who have never heard of them, to learn of their story, their family, as well as their artistic vision.

Modern Visions, Modern Art is presented to the community by Wells Fargo. Other collaborations and contributions include the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Weatherspoon Museum of Art, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the National Park Service, the Greensboro Historical Museum, the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority, Appalachian State University, Welborn & Patricia Alexander, Nancy Hirschland Ramage, Jane and Richard Levy, and many other members of the Cone and Lindau families.

Admission to the museum is, as always, free; free parking is also available in the deck adjacent to the museum.
The museum is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10am-5pm, Sunday from noon to 4pm, and closed on Mondays.

For more information about the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum’s Fall Exhibition Celebration on August 23, visit https://blowingrockmuseum.org/calendar.html/event/2019/08/23/fall-exhibition-celebration/244461

For more information on the exhibition as well as BRAHM’s many other exhibitions, visit https://blowingrockmuseum.org/welcome.html.