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The Aesthetes, Frederick E. Shane (82.412)

The Aesthetes, Frederick E. Shane
Frederick E. Shane
(American, 1906–1992)
The Aesthetes
Tempera and resin-oil on masonite
Gift of the artist

Director's Comments
It's hard to imagine anyone involved with art or museums not enjoying Fred Shane's The Aesthetes. Shane's painting gently pokes fun at aesthetic earnestness - particularly of the intellectual sort, as the painting likely depicts colleagues at the University of Missouri - while retaining a sympathetic warmth and intimacy. The rapture of the central figure is counterbalanced both by her position, half-seated crossways on a chair, and by the relaxed poses of her companions. Some experts trace a growing sense of disillusionment in Shane's later works; compare, for example, Farm in the Rockies (ca. 1930s or early 1940s) with Cripple Creek (1946). But here Shane strikes a delicate and positive balance—humor without mockery, earnestness without pretension.

Preliminary study for The Aesthetes Frederick E. Shane
(American, 1906–1992)
Preliminary study for The Aesthetes
ca. 1938
Pen and ink with wash
Gift of the artist

It's also an interesting work for technical reasons - the Museum holds both the finished painting and a preliminary study done in pen and ink with wash. Shane often made multiple preliminary studies before settling on the final composition, and would then transfer the drawing to a gessoed canvas stretched over a masonite panel. In the case of The Aesthetes, the finished work uses tempera underpainting with resin-oil glazes. Shane experimented with this technique from some time in the middle 1930s. Shane was on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia from 1932 until his retirement in 1971, and served as Chair of the Art Department from 1958 until his retirement. The Aesthetes was painted in 1938, the same year that Shane accepted a permanent position at the University.

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Farm in the Rockies
Frederick E. Shane
(American, 1906–1992)
Farm in the Rockies
ca. 1930s or 40s
Lithograph, ed. 250
Gift of Dr. Harry B. Cohen
Cripple Creek
Frederick E. Shane
(American, 1906–1992)
Cripple Creek
Gift of Mrs. Elmer Ellis

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