9/30/2021 Peter Durantine

Springford Exhibit Brings Color to Campus

Vibrant and muted colors splash across the large canvases of Vivian Springford, the American abstract expressionist, who in the mid-20th century developed her own color-field painting process that distinguished her as an artist. 

This fall, the Franklin & Marshall College community can experience her works thanks to Les Lieberman ’78, an F&M board member, and his wife, Barri. 

The Liebermans lent their personal collection of Springford paintings for installation in the Susan and Benjamin Winter Visual Arts Center gallery, in conjunction with the center’s dedication Oct. 2. The exhibit is open until  Oct. 29. 

  • Vivian Springford,  Untitled (Martinique Series), 1974 Vivian Springford, Untitled (Martinique Series), 1974 Image Credit: Photographed by Matt Kroening, courtesy of The Vivian Springford Administration and Almine Rech
  • Vivian Springford, Untitled, 1973 Vivian Springford, Untitled, 1973 Image Credit: Photograph by Matt Kroening, courtesy of The Vivian Springford Administration and Almine Rech
  • Vivian Springford, Untitled, c. 1968 Vivian Springford, Untitled, c. 1968 Image Credit: Photographed by Matt Kroening, courtesy of The Vivian Springford Administration and Almine Rech

Springford, who was 89 years old when she died in 2013, became active in the New York art scene with portraiture works in the 1950s. Inspired by Chinese calligraphy, she ventured into expressionism, and her technique – thinned paint on raw or thinly-primed canvas – brought her acclaim.

In painting, she once said, “I want to find my own small plot or pattern of energy that will express the inner me in terms of rhythmic movement and color. The expansive center of the universe, of the stars, and of nature is my constant challenge in abstract terms.”

Lieberman recently donated one of his Springford paintings to F&M’s Phillips Museum of Art and another to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, where he and his wife live with their three children, Grace, Sam and Cara.

As staff prepared the gallery for the fall exhibit, Lindsay Marino, Phillips director, pointed to the wall that displayed some of the finest examples of Springford’s abstract paintings from Lieberman’s collection. 

"These pieces are a fantastic complement to the beautiful 1974 Springford painting that the Liebermans donated to our permanent collection," Marino said. "We are very grateful for their contributions to the Museum and College. Having an example of her work provides a great deal of learning opportunities for our students and community."

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