Once you are inside RISD’s Moneo monstrosity of an addition (2008) to its Art Museum you find that the interior is almost as tedious, but unlike the exterior it is, on occasion, graced with art so beautiful that you wonder why the museum operators do not take the hint. For example, last Saturday I viewed the Gorham exhibit, which runs until Dec. 1, at an event sponsored by the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art.
The Gorham Manufacturing Company. was founded by Jabez Gorham at Providence in 1831, received early assistance from U.S. silver tariffs, and grew to rival Tiffany. Gorham had outlets in New York City, including one on Fifth Avenue designed by Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White. Its fine silver products were available for many years from the Stanley Weiss Collection‘s headquarters at the Tilden-Thurber Building in downtown Providence. The firm still exists, weaved into a string of companies in the mid-to-late 20th century, most recently Clarion Capital Partners, once known as Lenox.
The richness of embellished Gorham silver feels out of place in the RISD addition, even though the exhibit was clearly designed by a pro. So perhaps the idea is to focus attention on that richness, without any competition from interior design. If so, the idea cheats the exhibit, not to mention the museum itself, let alone the discriminatory ability of the human mind, of a holistic quality that would exalt the exhibit, its setting, and its observer.
But this blogger is in no position to complain. His comments, which I promise are about to give way to photographs of Gorham silver, are set on a blank white page, though the page is itself surrounded by a graceful pattern with which readers are familiar. So here, without further comment, are items from the Gorham exhibition: