Niels Yde Andersen (1888-1952), Foundry, 1938; dry point on paper, plate size: 9 7/8 x 11 5/8 inches; Gift of Andrew Y. Andersen in honor of his father
The Elements of Steel and Heart of Steel
An exhibition in two parts organized by Buffalo State graduate students in Museum Studies
On View Friday, May 3–Sunday, September 29, 2013
Selections from a recently acquired portfolio of prints and drawings by Niels Yde Andersen will be exhibited in the Collection Study Gallery at the Burchfield Penney Art Center from May 3 through September 29, 2013. SUNY Buffalo State graduate students in Museum Studies and their instructor organized the exhibition that investigates artistic impressions of mid-20th century steelmaking in Russia and Western New York. The exhibition is divided into two sections: Elements of Steel: The People, Places & Products of Industry and Heart of Steel: The Men and Women of the Steel Industry.
Niels Yde Andersen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1888 and was educated as an architect/engineer in Denmark and Germany. Because of his knowledge and skill, Andersen excelled as a blast furnace designer in the steel industry. In 1932 the Arthur McKee Company of Cleveland, Ohio sent him to Russia as the Senior Design Engineer for the construction of one of the world’s largest steel plants, The Magnitogrosk (“Magnet Mountain”) in the Ural District. Although Andersen was a licensed professional engineer, he also held a lifelong interest in becoming an artist and experimented in printmaking as early as 1930.
Returning to Buffalo in 1934 Andersen joined Remington Rand, Inc. where he remained as a development engineer in their Tonawanda plant. After his return from Russia, he became most intensely interested in his art, made many drawings of industrial scenes in the Niagara Frontier area, and soon developed a personal style, particularly excelling in drypoint prints. His art was not limited to industrial scenes, however; he also created images of his home life and family. In 2012, his son Andrew donated 53 of his prints and drawings dating from 1932 to 1950 to the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State.
Serving as the Burchfield Penney Art Center Instructor in Museum Studies, Nancy Weekly challenged her class taking “MST 622/Researching and Presenting Museum Collections,” to work with recent acquisitions, documentary photography, and other materials to provide unique aesthetic and historical perspectives on the steel-making industry and its effect on the lives of people who worked in the steel mills. At the museum, Weekly is also head of collections and the Charles Cary Rumsey Curator.
The team presenting “Elements of Steel” includes Steven Bukowski, Tara L. Lyons, Katherine H. Somerville, and Noelle J. Wiedemer. The team presenting “Heart of Steel” is comprised of Shane Hallnan, Alyssa F. Hickey, and Morgan Weingarten. They selected original prints and drawings by Niels Yde Andersen, as well as contextual artworks and archival materials from the museum’s collection, representing photographs, prints, and sculpture by Patricia Layman Bazelon, Kevin B. O’Callahan, Kenneth Patrick Payne, Milton Rogovin, Kathleen West, and Robert Wood. Each student interpreted two artworks and wrote labels for youths and adults, which are identified by their initials. Together, the teams conceived of unique storylines to present their selected works. Then they came together as a class to design the collaborative installation. The Steel Plant Museum of Western New York, professor emeritus Peter Sowiski, and the Burchfield Penney Art Center’s Archives provided additional materials.