NEW ORLEANS – Born in Acadiana on July 22, 1921, John Clemmer was a luminary of the New Orleans art scene for more than seven decades, producing a body of modernist art while inspiring dozens of his fellow artists. The new exhibition “John Clemmer: A Legacy in Art,” debuting at The Historic New Orleans Collection on the centennial of his birth, features 62 of the artist’s works. A companion gallery display presents pieces by 76 artists Clemmer knew during his lengthy career. These include artists associated with the Arts and Crafts Club of New Orleans, the Orleans Gallery, Newcomb College, Tulane University and the city at large.
An unassuming and generously spirited man, Clemmer was the only artist to have been a student, teacher, and director of the Arts and Crafts Club and its school. Clemmer later taught at Tulane University’s School of Architecture and then chaired the Newcomb Art Department.
A wide-reaching exhibition covering 75 years of the artist’s career — from 1939 to his death in 2014 —“John Clemmer: A Legacy in Art” also illuminates much of the recent history of fine art in New Orleans. It will be on view through Nov. 7, 2021, on the third level of THNOC’s Tricentennial Wing at 520 Royal Street.
“Over three-quarters of a century, from his student days at the New Orleans School of Art through his career at Tulane University and to his last years in his Wisconsin studio, John Clemmer produced a diverse body of paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures,” said Judith H. Bonner, the exhibition’s curator and senior curator at THNOC. “Clemmer was active in a community of artists — centered on the Arts and Crafts Club of New Orleans — whose work came to define Louisiana modernism. His life in New Orleans was central to his work. His French Quarter experience makes it particularly fitting that this exhibition of his art be held at The Historic New Orleans Collection, two blocks from where his career began at the Arts and Crafts Club.”
A hardcover catalog containing 40 full-color plates, a comprehensive exhibition checklist and essays by exhibition curator Judith H. Bonner, author John Ed Bradley, and the artist’s son David Clemmer, accompanies “John Clemmer: A Legacy in Art.” Supported by the John F. Clemmer Fund of the School of Architecture at Tulane University, the catalog is available for purchase in-person and online at The Shop at the Collection as well as other booksellers. It retails for $54.95.
Visitors may view “John Clemmer: A Legacy in Art” Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free, and THNOC’s COVID-19 safety protocols — facemasks, timed ticketing , and limited gallery capacity to ensure social distancing — will be in place. Advance reservations at hnoc.org are recommended.