Fifty works on paper from the Scruggs-Vandervoort-Barney Collection (SVB) are shown in this online exhibition. Our Museum preserves the SVB Collection, so-called because these nearly one hundred paintings, watercolors, and drawings were commissioned by the owners of the former Saint Louis department store Scruggs, Vandervoort & Barney. Rarely displayed due to their sensitivity to light, these works are made with fugitive materials—watercolors, gouaches, inks, ink washes, and above all, paper—appropriate metaphors for the ephemeral subjects they depict. The landscapes, cityscapes, lifeways, pastimes, and people have all changed, changes that could be deemed progress or decay depending on perspective. Those bygone days are remembered with nostalgia, a sweetening and selective remembrance of only parts of a more complex past.
The SVB Collection was created in the late 1940s to showcase both life in Missouri and Regionalist art. The patron and president of Scruggs-Vandervoort-Barney, Frank M. Mayfield, wrote, “The object of the project was to depict, through the medium of American Art, the natural beauties, industrial activities, and cultural characteristics of the state.”
You can view all the works from the SVB collection online at http://maacollections.missouri.edu. Look for the Special Search “Scruggs-Vandervoort-Barney.”
This interactive map links several works in this exhibition with their locations around Missouri. Some locations are approximate or even speculative, while others attempt to get as close to the artists' vantage points as possible, giving us a view in Google Street View today of what they looked upon in 1946-47. Two different sections of the exhibition—Rural and Urban—are organized in two different layers on the map, which you can select or deselect. Individual artists are color-coded. Enjoy tracing their steps across the state.