Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Helen and Harry Gray

Harry Gray was a fabulously successful CEO of United Technologies, the biggest company based in greater Hartford.  He died in 2009 at the age of 89, so he had a quarter century after retirement to devote, with his wife Helen, to philanthropy.  There is hardly any educational, cultural or other philanthropic institution in our area that has not received generous gifts from Helen and Harry Gray.

The top photo is one room at the Wadsworth Atheneum for which they were lead funders. 

The smaller photo to the left is the entrance to the Atheneum, also funded by Helen and Harry Gray.  The space features a mural by Sol Lewitt, a Hartford native who was one of the leaders of conceptualism.  Lewitt believed that the important thing about art is the idea, not the execution.  He often had others do the painting, and many of his works are intended to be temporary.

The statue to the left is "Diana," by Hiram Powers.  It sits at the entrance to the space in the top photo.  The reason I included it in today's post is that it was a gift to the Atheneum from J. Pierpont Morgan in 1914.  J. P. Morgan began his business career in Hartford before moving to New York. 

Support of cultural institutions from the captains of industry goes back a long way, to the Medicis and beyond.

14 comments:

Regina K said...

I enjoyed learning of our forefathers efforts. Great post!

Cezar and Léia said...

Beautiful portrait in your first picture and I love the composition with the sculpture of Diana ( last one), it's fabulous!
Léia

PerthDailyPhoto said...

Art galleries are such fun to visit, I love going to all the little galleries in Perth and Fremantle, I don't always understand the exhibits, but it's always interesting to try and figure out what it's all supposed to mean!!

Sylvia K said...

Great post as always, Jack! The first shot is really superb, terrific composition. Interesting to learn about Harry Gray and the wonderful things that he and his wife did with their money. The sculpture of Diana is beautiful! Have a great day!

Sylvia

lizziviggi said...

Thank goodness for philanthropists. I love that last photo, the way Diana appears to be looking over her shoulder at the people in the portrait as if she's thinking "Are they still watching me?"

joo said...

The first photo is my favourite:)

JM said...

Jack, I just love this museum series, but the composition on top is oustanding. So beautiful! Great posts.

jennyfreckles said...

We have much to thank such generous people for - here in UK too - especially for saving our artistic heritage.

RedPat said...

I am still enthralled with the coloured walls - they seem to set the work off so well. Some people are so generous - thank goodness.

Dawn said...

This is great! I really like that first picture-just draws me right in.
Nice work...and informative as usual!!

SRQ said...

Love the top shot. Interesting info....especially about Lewitt. How does one have a creative idea for a painting and not executive it himself? Fascinating.

Randy said...

The first shot is great. I really live the pattern on the wall too.

Gunn said...

Very nice and interesting posting, Jack!

Gunn / Norway

VP said...

If Lewitt is right I am probably one of the greatest artists of any time, apart that I can't draw, paint, or sculpt anything...