“Ship to Paradise,” an exhibit of the works of Robert S. Neuman, is set to open at the Maine Sea Coast Mission with a reception on July 22. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ALLAN STONE COLLECTION

Mission hosts Neuman exhibit

BAR HARBOR — Robert S. Neuman’s “Ship to Paradise” exhibit at the Maine Sea Coast Mission” will open with a reception on Friday, July 22, from 5-7 p.m. A Carl Little lecture on the exhibit will take place on Aug. 24, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The exhibit, on view from July 22 through Sept. 9, focuses on the artist’s surrealist illustrations for an edition of Sebastian Brandt’s “The Shyp of Fooles,” a 15th-century allegory on the foibles and folly of man.

Neuman began exploring the theme in 1977 with whimsical sketches, prints and mixed media works. In 1983, August Heckscher, who was a fellow summer resident of Mount Desert Island and owner of High Loft Press, commissioned Neuman to create a portfolio of prints to accompany a facsimile edition of the medieval humanist Brandt’s “Shyp of Fooles.”

Brandt’s text, which dates to 1494, is an allegory outlining in 112 chapters the vices and worldly conceits of man that prevent him from reaching godly salvation in paradise. Translated throughout the years into multiple languages, the tale became a best seller and was accompanied by illustrations by Brandt’s contemporary Albrecht Dürer.

Neuman’s “Ship to Paradise” is the artist’s personal exploration of this same theme. Inspired by his thoughts on the modern day world around him and instilled with knowledge of seafaring and shipbuilding distinct to life in Maine, Neuman’s intricate compositions recall the fantastical paintings of the Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch (ca. 1450-1516). Images of the ship in various stages of its journey – from construction to calamity to repair – function both as a cautionary tale on the dangers of the quest at hand and as a metaphor for the human condition.

The artist’s “Ship to Paradise” works can be found in both private and corporate collections, including the Boston Athenaeum, Museum of Fine Arts, Harvard University Art Museums, New York Public Library, Library of Congress, Bates College Museum of Art, Farnsworth Art Museum, Currier Museum of Art, The Art Complex and the National Art Gallery, Australia.

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