Location:

Helen Frankenthaler Visual Arts Center
Bennington College
1 College Drive
Bennington, VT 05201

Driving directions

The College is close to other notable art and culture destinations, including The Bennington Museum (10 minutes); The Clark (30 minutes); The Williams College Museum of Art (30 minutes); and MASS MoCA (40 minutes).

Hours:

Tuesday - Saturday, 1:00PM – 5:00PM during exhibitions.

History:

Usdan Gallery opened in 1974 with the completion of VAPA (the Visual Arts/Performing Arts building). The gallery is named in honor of Bennington alumna Suzanne Lemberg Usdan class of 1951. Modeled after the third floor of the Whitney Museum in Manhattan, Usdan Gallery is exceptionally well designed and is able to adapt to the needs of various exhibitions.

Bennington College’s history is rich with art. Bennington was the first college in America to include the visual and performing arts as an equal partner in the liberal arts curriculum. In the 1940s, when Helen Frankenthaler (’49) was an unknown painting student she met distinguished painter and Bennington faculty member Paul Feeley. Feeley and Frankenthaler worked together throughout her Bennington College career. During this time, Feeley was one of the primary engines for bringing renowned New York artists and critics to Bennington (including art critic Clement Greenberg for whom Bennington became a second home.) Through Greenberg, Bennington connected with some of America’s first great abstract painters and sculptors—Jackson Pollock, Adolph Gottleib, David Smith, Hans Hoffman, Barnett Newman, Kenneth Noland, Morris Louis, among others—mounting exhibitions of their work at the College. For many of these artists, these were their first important one-man non-commercial shows.

By the ’60s, a group of “second generation” abstract artists named “The Green Mountain Boys” had found a home at Bennington. The group included painters Kenneth Nolan, Paul Feeley, Jules Olitski, and sculptor Anthony Caro. Their name came from the band of men who won the Revolutionary war battle of Bennington, the spirit of those soldiers and of these artists is the same spirit that Bennington College hopes to find in its students today.