Past Exhibit

Polly Thayer Starr: Nearer The Essence

a colorful painting of a flower

Polly Thayer Starr was an artist who lived beyond tidy definitions. Classically trained and well-spoken, she bounded onto the 1930s art scene, gaining fame for her formal portraits of Boston’s elite. With eyes and hands in constant motion, she recorded what she saw in sketches, collected and annotated poems torn from magazines, and wrote prolific letters and lectures. “I want to see with my whole being,” she declared, and “I seek what the form will reveal of essence, what the visible will tell me of the invisible.” As a result, her works beautifully present reality while also suggesting a world beyond. She invited viewers to look beyond the immediate to discover the pure magic in those uncertain realms outside of what we expect to see.

This exhibition contains not only her paintings of nature and portraits, but also many studies and sketchbooks to reveal the artist’s search for beauty and truth. In addition to never-before exhibited archival materials, personal effects, such as a spectacularly carved desk from her studio, will be on display.

Please note: dates are subject to change.

Special thanks to the Polly Thayer Starr Charitable Trust for their support of this exhibition.

Art On View