Bernard Langlais with model for Horse, 1966. Photograph by Martin Leifer, courtesy of the Colby College Museum of Art.
Visitors to Maine can experience a vast trove of more than 3,000 works of art by Bernard Langlais (1921-1977 b. Old Town, Maine) in more than 50 institutions and communities across the state as part of the new Langlais Art Trail.
Born in Old Town, Maine in 1921, Langlais is best known in his home state for the iconic 62-foot Abenaki Indian in Skowhegan. His work was inspired by the surrounding landscape and late in his career featured figurative reliefs of shore birds, raptors, horses, cows, bulls and other animals of rural and coastal Maine.
The Langlais Art Trail represents a collaboration between the Colby College Museum of Art and Kohler Foundation, Inc. of Wisconsin. A highlight of the Langlais Art Trail will be the Langlais Sculpture Preserve, owned and managed by the Georges River Land Trust. The preserve is a portion of the artist’s estate in Cushing and will be open to the public in fall 2014.
The Langlais Art Trail brings together the seven institutions on the Maine Art Museum Trail, as well as the Monhegan Memorial Library, Main Street Skowhegan, the University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Tides Institute and Museum of Art in Eastport, among others. Works by the artist include his wood sculptures, many of which are monumental in size.
In addition, the Colby College Museum of Art is presenting the first scholarly retrospective of the artist’s work, on view from July 19, 2014 through January 4, 2015. The exhibition was curated by Langlais Curator for Special Projects Hannah W. Blunt. More than 120 sculptures and reliefs, oil paintings on panel and canvas, and works on paper are featured in the show.
Langlais began his career as a painter in New York. However, his abstract reliefs in wood were the pieces that attracted the attention of the art world with exhibitions at the Martha Jackson Gallery in 1960, a solo exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1961 and the Whitney Museum’s 1962 Drawing and Sculpture Annual.
Disenchanted with the New York art scene, he returned to Maine in 1966 to the rural, coastal town of Cushing. Here he began to create monumental sculptures and three-dimensional pieces in wood. When his widow, Helen Friend Langlais, died in 2010, she left his 90-acre estate and a large bequest of his works to the Colby Museum.
While enjoying the Colby exhibit, Langlais Art Trail, and Maine Art Museum Trail, visitors also can enjoy great restaurants and other attractions nearby. Plan a trip by going online to visitmaine.com.