I was in Minnesota recently, visiting family, and took advantage of the opportunity to visit the Minneapolis Art Institute. One of their exhibitions was “American Modernism: Selections from the Kunin Collection,” featuring approximately 80 paintings from the art collection of Minneapolis businessman Myron Kunin. I liked how both Kunin collected paintings that fit well together, as well as the way the curators played off of those connections in hanging the show. One room showed these two tree paintings: at left, “Banyan Tree,” 1938, by Joseph Stella, and at right, “Chestnut Tree – Grey,” 1924, by Georgia O’Keeffe.
By coincidence, the day before I went to the Art Institute, I bought some vintage photographs from an antiques store, and was drawn to the unusual tree in the photograph in the center. It’s just a random photograph, by an unknown photographer, and it was sitting in a pile of other random vintage pictures. I picked out and bought a handful of photographs that grabbed my attention, as I’m building a collection of small vintage prints by anonymous photographers. The next day after I saw these two tree paintings from the Kunin show, I went back and pulled out my tree photograph to compare the images. As I look at these three tree images together, I see that they’re similar in the way that they focus on the trunk and do not show the whole tree. Granted, some anonymous photographer doesn’t exactly match up reputation-wise to Stella and O’Keeffe, but I like the way they all fit together.