August 18, the same night as the Chalk, Paper, Scissors Artist Talks and Demonstration, will be the last opportunity for Toledo art lovers to view Adam Grant’s 1988 oil painting, The Phrenologist — which will leave later that weekend to join the permanent collection of the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College (Lynchburg, VA).
The motif of mysticism, here referenced by the 19th century pseudoscience of phrenology, appeared frequently in the paintings of the late Toledo artist and Holocaust survivor Adam (Grochowski) Grant, as a depiction of his Polish cultural heritage, having viewed the laying of Tarot cards from a young age, inspiring his Mystic series of paintings.
In this painting, the model holds the titular role, gesturing toward the marked head bust used to map the supposed-prominences of the subject’s brain that would determine both character and personal fortune. As confirmation of the inevitability of the phrenologist’s predictions, the bust rests atop an unfurled copy of the daily paper (The Toledo Blade). Scattered on the floor and pinned to an unrevealed canvas behind her are palmistry and astrological charts, one of which bears a six-pointed star as Grant’s silent tribute to his fellow captives during their ordeals in the Holocaust—experiences that left lasting physical and psychological damage to the artist throughout his lifetime.
Uncharacteristically for Grant’s paintings, the model gazes directly at the viewer, intensely but impersonally, detaching her herself from the “fortune” of the viewer. This reference in The Phrenologist to the Polish tradition of fortune telling serves as both a cultural marker and—with the almost adversarial stance of the model—as a metaphor for that nation’s onslaught by the Nazis.
Join us On August 18, from 6 – 9pm, to bid a fond farewell to this masterwork canvas by Adam Grant, The Phrenologist, before it leaves Toledo forever!