Museum news

Fort Worth museum dedicates new center to artwork of famous Gentling brothers

Fort Worth museum dedicates new center to artwork of Gentling brothers

Seeing in Detail: Scott and Stuart Gentling's Birds of Texas
Purple Gallinule, 1982-85, by Scott and Stuart Gentling. Photo courtesy of Amon Carter Museum of American Art

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art will honor Fort Worth's most famous artist-siblings with a dedicated space to store and study their works. The Carter's Gentling Study Center will be a repository for the works of brothers Scott G. Gentling and Stuart W. Gentling that will be open to the public, the Fort Worth museum announced on August 7.

"The Center will be housed in a new collections Study Room alongside the museum’s esteemed research library, and will be managed by a dedicated curator who will oversee its fellowship, publication, acquisition, and exhibition programs," the museum explains in a release. "The new initiative complements the museum’s major collection of artist archives, advancing the Carter as a premier research institution in the field of American art."

The new center's opening coincides with the exhibition "Seeing in Detail," which will showcase Scott and Stuart Gentling’s famous watercolors of Texas birds, beginning September 14. That is also the day that the Carter will reopen after a three-month shutter to the public for renovations.

“Through recent significant gifts, the museum is delighted to more fully engage our audiences with the close study of the Gentlings’ legacy and demonstrate our commitment to overlooked artists,” says Andrew J. Walker, executive director, in a release.

Although the Gentlings are famous internationally for their paintings of the birds of Texas, they're better known in Fort Worth for the ceiling mural on the dome of Bass Hall. Also, in 2001, Scott Gentling painted the official gubernatorial portrait of George W. Bush.

The museum says the center is the result of several major gifts. "In 2015, Suzanne Gentling, executor of the Gentling’s estate, placed the brothers’ personal papers and diaries at the museum to establish an archive," the release says. "Recognizing her gift, and committed to cooperation across the Cultural District, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History subsequently transferred to the Carter its historical collection of paintings, drawings, and study material related to the Gentlings’ most famous project: Of Birds and Texas."

Fort Worth billionaire Ed Bass also lent his support, leadership, and vision to found the new center, the museum says, "which allowed the Carter to acquire a significant collection of Gentling artworks from the estate and to establish endowments to support the Center’s mission."

In conjunction with the Gentling Study Center, the museum also has established an endowed yearly fellowship to support ongoing research and scholarship.

“I don’t know what Stuart and Scott are working on these days, wherever they are, but I’m certain that they’re as honored and excited as I am that their archive has found its new home here at the Amon Carter Museum in their beloved Fort Worth, and that their work will serve as a genesis for the preservation and research of other artists’ archives in the future," Suzanne Gentling says in the release.

In addition to the exhibition that opens in September, the museum plans a comprehensive career retrospective on the Gentlings for mid-2021. "In future years, the Center will support ongoing programming of other important monographic and archival collections at the museum, with a focus on advancing the rich legacies of underappreciated artists," they say.

Twins Scott (1942-2011) and Stuart Gentling (1942-2006) were born in Rochester, Minnesota, but moved to Fort Worth at the age of 5. A creative collaboration that began in childhood continued throughout their lives.

"An early interest in the work of naturalist John James Audubon ultimately inspired their Of Birds and Texas project," the Carter says. "The Gentling brothers’ keen powers of observation evolved into a painting style rooted in naturalism yet imbued with romantic realism. Dedicating years of study to the subjects they depicted, whether it was the birds of Texas or scenes of Tenochtitlán (today’s Mexico City), the artists explored themes in series that functioned as visual metaphors for the passage of time."