Ransoming Mathew Brady

Re-Imagining the Civil War: Recent Paintings by John Ransom Phillips

June 19–October 3, 2010

This remarkable exhibition includes more than twenty works, ranging from large-scale oil paintings to watercolors, related to the Civil War. Phillips’s imagery is inspired by the life of nineteenth-century photographer Mathew Brady and the American poet Walt Whitman. Alan Trachtenberg, in his catalog essay, describes Phillips’s paintings as part history and part discourse on America, with Mathew Brady as a central figure, like a comic strip figure of the American Everyman. According to Trachtenberg, “The power of the work lies in Phillips’s grasp of the role played by the many-sided Mathew Brady in the mythic history of the nation.”

John Ransom Phillips’s work has been exhibited internationally at the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art in Chicago, the Museo de Arte Moderno in Buenos Aires, and the Heidi Cho Gallery in New York. He has been a faculty member of the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He has a Ph.D. in the history of culture from the University of Chicago.

A companion exhibition, Ransoming Mathew Brady: Searching for Celebrity, will be on display at the Opalka Gallery of the Sage Colleges, 140 New Scotland Ave., in Albany, from June 4 to July 30. That exhibition will include twenty-eight of Phillips’s paintings that deal with Brady’s portraits of famous Americans from the period.