For anyone planning Bermuda holidays, a visit to the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art is an opportunity to not only enjoy a collection of artworks inspired by the local landscape, but also to gain an insight into the cultural heritage of these beautiful islands. |
The Masterworks Museum
Set up in 1987, with just 12 pieces, the museum has evolved into an exciting collection of around 1500 artworks encompassing a range of mediums – including painting, sculpture and photography – inspired by the islands' unique natural beauty, light and vibrant culture.
The vision of the museum's founder, Tom Butterfield, who believed in the concept of education through creative expression, has been brought to exceptional fruition. Now housed in an impressive 16,000sq foot purpose-built home, the museum is set within the lovely Botanical Gardens, in Paget. For visitors on Bermuda holidays with an interest in art, it is an important site to visit.
The Permanent Collection
The permanent collection comprises works from the 18th century onwards. Curators have built the collection with intent, with pieces from lesser-known contemporary artists sitting alongside internationally renowned works from Georgia O'Keeffe, Winslow Homer, Albert Gleizes and Marsden Hartley.
The American Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) dedicated his life's work to capturing the inspirational qualities of nature in its purest form, and the two pieces in the museum's collection depict the idealised landscapes for which he was renowned.
Movement Bermuda is considered one of the earliest examples of Cubism to come out of America. The painting's muted colours and entirely abstract composition, inspired by sailboats, is considered the most advanced expression of American Cubism of its time.
Sunken Treasure is part of a series inspired by the islanders' passion for fishing. While Hartley admitted his piece is not scientifically accurate, the vivid colours he used were a homage to the chromatic scale found in the local marine life.
Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) made two trips to Bermuda, in1933 and 1934, while recovering from her well-publicised breakdown. The beauty and solitude of the location inspired a series of charcoal and pencil drawings, which was a departure from the paintings for which she was known. Banyan Tree With Palms is a piece from the series of 14, which comprises images of local banana blossoms and banyan trees. While O'Keeffe never returned to the islands, it is widely considered that her visits provided a timely refuge and saviour for her creativity.
A series of idealised images of island scenes by the French painter Albert Gleizes (1881-1953) reflect the tone of the Cubist movement of the time, but also a shift by the artist towards a purity of colour – moving away from the sombre greys and browns of his European contemporaries. Maison du Gouverneur, painted by the artist in 1917, is part of a series in watercolours and oils of Government House. The painting was also used in a commemorative stamp for the Masterworks Foundation's 25th Anniversary.
The museum's collection includes three pieces by the American artist Winslow Homer (1836-1910), renowned for his tropical watercolours. Homer visited the islands in 1899, and the works he produced from this time depicted the less formal, broader brush strokes and saturated colours of his style that evolved from his many visits to tropical locations around the world.
Inland Water, Bermuda and Opposite Ireland Island are beautiful examples of the artist's seemingly effortless seascapes, but in reality the compositions were planned meticulously. S.S. Trinidad is Homer's moody and atmospheric painting of the first purpose-built ship to come to the islands.
A Unique Destination for Artists
The unique light, flora and fauna, and natural palette of blues, greens, purples and oranges of the islands have served as muse to countless artists, poets and writers. For visitors on their Bermuda holidays, the Masterworks Museum affords an evocative insight into the culture, history and beauty of this place that has inspired such creativity.
John Dixon is Managing Director of Prestige Holidays and visits Bermuda at least twice a year. He has been providing luxury Bermuda holidays, as well as luxury holidays to many other destinations worldwide, for over 30 years.
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