Reed Gallery presents Langlais’ World

1 year ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Reed Art Gallery presents Langlais’ World from March 3 to April 21. The exhibition will feature a selection from its large collection of original artworks by Maine native and internationally renowned artist Bernard Langlais, including sculptures, paintings, drawings, constructions, and sketchbooks.

Some of these works will be seen for the first time since they were gifted to UMPI by the Kohler Foundation.

The public is invited to view the exhibition throughout the show’s run and attend an opening reception on Friday, March 3 from 6-8 p.m. This event is free and open to the public and Reed Art Gallery Director Frank Sullivan will be on hand to discuss the works in the show. This reception is being held in conjunction with the Presque Isle First Friday Art Walk. The Reed Gallery is located on the second floor of the University’s Center for Innovative Learning.

Langlais was born in Old Town in 1921. He showed early promise as an artist and was awarded scholarships to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Brooklyn Museum Art School. Langlais also received a Fulbright Scholarship which afforded him the opportunity to study the Expressionist paintings of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch in Oslo, Norway. After a successful career in the New York art world during the 1950s and 1960s, Langlais returned to Maine, settling on an old farmhouse in Cushing where he would remain until his death in 1977.

Langlais initially trained as a painter. His early work consisted of oil and watercolor paintings as well as drawings in a variety of dry mediums, such as charcoal and pastel, done in a modernist, Expressionistic style characterized by an intentional flattening of space and form, saturated colors, gestural brush strokes and lines, and an intentional distortion of contours and proportions that emphasized a personal, often emotional, interpretation of his subjects, which included figures, animals, and landscapes. In the mid-1950s, Langlais began working with scraps of wood and developed a technique which he called “painting with wood.” During the last decade of his career, Langlais focused on large scale wood sculptures, primarily based on animal subjects. One of his very last pieces was the 4-ton, 30-foot-tall Owls sculpture in the center of the UMPI campus.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle has a significant collection of more than 800 original Bernard Langlais art works that were gifted from the Kohler Foundation, Inc. in 2013. The works include wooden sculptures, drawings, paintings, sketches, and sketchbooks.

“Bernard Langlais had a unique artistic voice and a keen ability to manifest his way of seeing the world through a variety of visual art media,” Reed Art Gallery Director, Frank Sullivan, said. “Although his subjects are instantly recognizable, Langlais’ idiosyncratic temperament and whimsical interpretation of his subject matter is clearly evident in all of his work, whether a drawing, a painting, or sculpture. He had a remarkable capacity for using visual language to express his personality and one cannot help but feel the artist’s presence when looking at his work. ”

All are invited to view the exhibit March 3 through April 21, and to come out to the First Friday Art Walk on March 3 and take part in the free reception and brief gallery talk by Sullivan.

The Reed Art Gallery is located on the upper floor of the Center for Innovative Learning in the heart of the UMPI campus at 181 Main St. in Presque Isle. Regular gallery hours during the academic year are Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sundays from 2-8 p.m. The Reed Art Gallery is closed on Saturdays and holidays. For more information, contact Sullivan at or 207-694-1920.