“You really cannot own art. We are simply custodians of these acquisitions.” —Werner Feibes
In 1952 Charlotte Pruyn Hyde dedicated her home and art collection to the Glens Falls community, “to promote and cultivate the study and improvement of the fine arts, for the education and benefit of the residents of Glens Falls and vicinity and the general public.” Sixty-four years later, another donation has ensured that this mission will persevere for many years to come.
In August, The Hyde Collection announced that it had received its largest donation since the founding of the museum—$11 million in cash and art. The gift came from architect, collector and Schenectady resident Werner Feibes just one year after his donation of 55 modern and contemporary works. The 2016 donation includes the remainder of Feibes’ collection—105 works—acquired by Feibes and his late partner Jim Schmitt in the second half of the 20th century.
“Jim Schmitt and I always considered art as ideas expressed through a visual medium,” said Feibes. “So a collection of art is a collection of ideas; therefore an exhibition of art is actually an exhibition of ideas. For more than four decades, we collected these ideas, and it gives me great pleasure to share them with The Hyde and with the public.”
With the donation, plans have been put into effect for a 1,500 square foot “Feibes & Schmitt Gallery” dedicated to the display of modern art with plans to open to the public next summer. This August, The Hyde will begin a fundraising initiative for the construction of the gallery that aims to match a portion of Feibes’ cash donation.
“The depth and breadth of the Feibes & Schmitt Collection both compliment and strengthen The Hyde’s permanent collection,” said Erin Coe, Director of the Hyde Collection. “It extends Mrs. Hyde’s legacy by adding significant work from artists of our time, which is something Mrs. Hyde did herself during the first half of the twentieth century.”
After meeting in college at the University of Cincinnati, Feibes and Schmitt practiced architecture in Schenectady for 55 years. They were known for their work in the Stockade, having played a major role in the growth and preservation of the previously rundown neighborhood. In retirement, the pair was able to focus more time and energy on fine art, traveling between The Bronx, Block Island and Schenectady in their pursuit of non-objective, pop, abstract and minimalist art.
Feibes and Schmitt’s donation of post-war prints, paintings and sculptures more than doubles The Hyde’s current holdings. Included in the collection are works by Josef Albers, Jean Arp, Grace Hartigan, Keith Haring, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, Robert Motherwell, George Rickey, Louise Nevelson, Bridget Riley, Robert Rauschenberg and David Smith.
Selections from the 2015 Feibes and Schmitt donation will be on display in the Hoopes Gallery at The Hyde from Oct 15 through Dec 31. For more information on upcoming exhibits, visit hydecollection.org.