Until now, artworks by Lumen Martin Winter were only sporadically collected by museums. Now, thanks to a major donation of his art to the Long Island Museum, he’s about to be “rediscovered.”
Who’s that, you ask? Winter (his first name means “a measure of light”) was widely and highly regarded in his lifetime. But fame faded like a mural exposed too long to sunlight. While many of his monumental public art projects remain where they were first installed, his paintings and watercolors mostly stayed in family hands.
Among his highest-profile commissions were insignia for Apollo missions XIII-XV on which the lunar landing module developed in Bethpage played a crucial role. His sheer versatility in style and mediums, rare among modern artists, hark back to such masters as Michelangelo and da Vinci, art craftsmen hired by kings and clergy. One of his first big commissions was a replica of da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” now in the Notre Dame University collection. In Europe, he developed a relationship with the sculpture-casting firm Pietrasanta, helping him create some of his massive pieces, such as “Our Lady of the Thruways,” personally blessed by the pope. Now at the Marian Shrine in Westchester County, it stood watch over intersecting highways in White Plains.
Landmark projects include the workers mural at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, his pointillist-style “Titans” at the United Nations, and the “Angel of Resurrection” marble sculpture across from Lincoln Center in front of St. Paul the Apostle Church — all still on view. Closer to Long Island, “Fishermen’s Mural” was created for a Brooklyn bank. A 6-foot-by-12-foot color study of a portion of the mural greets visitors as they enter the exhibit. Other major projects are represented in photos with the artist and in prints.
“He didn’t work small,” says Joshua Ruff, curator of the shows, “except for in his watercolors. Public projects were his bread and butter.”
A PAINTERLY SIDE
Works from his studio and surroundings in Taos, New Mexico, which he revisited throughout his career, stand apart strikingly from his formal projects. One painting of a windblown desert in which a woman seems to materialize, resembles a storm-tossed Turner image, though it’s a landscape rather than seascape. In the European section, his three offshore views of Cannes reflect a Cubist influence. “You wouldn’t know these are by the same guy,” Ruff says.
Winter’s later years — he died of cardiac arrest in 1982 at age 73 — reflect varied aspects of his career, from a sketch of his final mural, “White Buffalo,” completed by his son, William, to “White Stallion,” a stone-and-marble mosaic. A painting of a wooded scene near his New Rochelle home/studio exemplifies his talent as a colorist, with autumn hues popping off the canvas.
The donation, arranged by LIM conservator Alexander Katlan, adds significantly to the museum’s public-projects collection, Ruff says. “And with his wide range of work, we expect him to show up in future exhibits here.”
WHAT “Lumen Martin Winter: An Artist Rediscovered”
WHEN | WHERE Through Sept. 17, Long Island Museum, 1200 Rte. 25A, Stony Brook. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays-Saturday (also Labor Day), noon-5 p.m. Sundays
ADMISSION $10, seniors $7, students $5, younger than 6 free, 2-for-1 admission Thursdays; 631-751-0066, longislandmuseum.org
WHAT “Inside the Studio,” an exhibit of artworks by people using the Community Art Center of Gallery North as their studio and instructional resource, opens Friday in Setauket. The art ranges from painting, watercolor, collage and photography to printmaking rolled out on the studio presses. Visitors can tour the art center, next door to the gallery, and there will be demonstrations during the opening reception.
WHEN | WHERE Friday through June 30. Reception: 5-7 p.m. Friday, Gallery North, 90 North Country Rd., Setauket. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, noon-5 p.m. Sundays
ADMISSION Free; 631-751-2676, gallerynorth.org