BOLTON LANDING - Artist, professor, and philosopher Peter Schwarzburg was considered by many to be one of the greatest intellects of the 20th century who excelled in philosophy, science, teaching, and not least of all, landscape painting. The late Schwarzburg created about 100 paintings of Lake George (1945-2002) at the estate of Marcella Sembrich.
Neil A. Chassman, a professor and longtime friend of the artist will deliver the lecture "The Intersection of the Art of Peter Schwarzburg and the Estate of Marcella Sembrich" at the museum, 4800 Lake Shore Drive, on Wednesday, July 14. The cost is $5.
Chassman's talk will include a visual journey through the works Schwarzburg painted from scenic Sembrich Point, facing the Sagamore Hotel, which he says combine distinctly American and European traditions with a striking freshness and a powerful, sensitive individuality. Schwarzburg was a New York City resident but had spent summers in Bolton Landing since childhood.
Chassman grew up in New York City and has traveled, taught, and lectured throughout the U.S. and abroad. He was chairman, Department of Art History, Southern Methodist University; chairman, Department of Art and Art History, Western Illinois University; and Visiting Senior Professor, Brisbane College, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Chassman met the artist back in 1959 when he was a student and Schwarzburg was teaching at The New School in Manhattan.
"He was teaching phenomology and existentialism in the fields of psychology and philosophy," recalled Chassman. "Peter was so brilliant that in order to be his student you needed to be able to handle his intelligence, which was not easy because he thought in leaps and bounds."
Though his first love was painting, Chassman said he never taught it because "he wanted to keep his creative expression separate from his teaching." Still, Schwarzburg went on to teach some of the greats in the art world, including the sculptor Joel Shapiro, Tad Day, Simon Gaon, Ronald Denota, Richard Rash and Myron Heise.
"He mentored New York City's most famous artists," said Chassman, who teaches Chinese language and culture at the Woodstock Day School. "They all bowed down to him. Artists, philosophers, and musicians considered him the grand master."
Chassman said that though Schwarzburg and Marcella Sembrich never met, he derived great inspiration from painting at her estate and from her music.
"He knew as much about classical music as anyone I knew in my life. Peter was a true renaissance man. His paintings were one of the three strongest elements of his character: his art, intellect, and humanity. Peter was very generous with his time and with people when they needed it."
So profound was Schwarzburg's influence on his student, and later, friend, Chassman wrote the book, "Pure Genius: The Art and Mind of Peter Schwarzburg," in 2005. Following his lecture, Chassman will sign copies of the book, which will be for sale at the museum. A reception will be held at the newly-opened Silverwood Gallery in the Huddle, just south of Bolton Landing, where several of Mr. Schwarzburg's Lake George paintings will be on display.
The Marcella Sembrich Memorial Association, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1940, dedicates its existence and purpose to honor the life and career of internationally renowned soprano, Marcella Sembrich. The MSMA maintains Sembrich's former teaching studio as a museum displaying Sembrich's personal effects that reflect on her daily life of teaching and her career. The MSMA also carries on the fine tradition of music through a summer concert series presenting renowned international musicians in concert at the studio.
Media Sponsor for the museum's 2010 season is The Lake George Mirror. Programming is sponsored in part by Warren County, the Town of Bolton, Bolton Recreation Commission, and Stewart's Holiday Match.
For more information about the Marcella Sembrich Memorial Association, the Opera Museum or for a calendar of the MSMA's 2008 summer program, visit www.thesembrich.org , or contact the MSMA at 644-2431 (office) or 644-9839 (museum).