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Jacob Landau’s annual gallery exhibition: “The Frances Cycle”

From Apr. 1 through Apr. 7, the Monmouth University Center of the Arts hosted the “Jacob Landau: The Frances Cycle” gallery exhibit in the Guggenheim Memorial Library. This exhibit featured a series of fourteen drawings made by Landau in 1996. “The Frances Cycle” series consisted of colored pencil and pencil drawings dedicated to the story of Landau’s late wife Frances’ journey through Alzheimer’s disease.

The paintings in “The Frances Cycle” were in order around Room 101 in the library and have never been shown before this exhibition. As one walked around the room, viewers could explore the story of Frances and the evolution of her Alzheimer’s in the figurative expressionism drawings Landau created. The artwork created by Landau is characterized by its honesty, as it portrays nude human bodies in various situations that convey a range of emotions. Each drawing had a hand-written title, explaining the emotion paired. Some names were more straightforward like “He’s My Baby,” which shows a mother feeding her child, while others needed some thought. “I Can’t Understand My Own Self” could be seen as a woman haunted by various versions of herself.

Jacob Landau was an artist, teacher, and loving husband. He was born in Philadelphia in 1917, and since then has had over sixty-one shows. He’s additionally received many awards, such as the Guggenheim and National Arts Council grants. His work has also been featured in the Museum of Modern Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. When Landau retired, he became a professor emeritus at Pratt Institute and continued to stand by his wife Frances’ side during her decline of Alzheimer’s at age 65. He expressed in the event’s program, “I would like to say to her, memory is a creature of time – but remembrance is forever.”

Along with “The Frances Cycle,” Landau released a book, “The Frances Cycle: Some Motions of the Earth.” The book contains Landau’s art alongside poetry written by David Herrstrom, the former President of the Jacob Landau Institute. Landau stated in the collection’s preface, “Over and over she uttered phrases of remarkable but tragic insight…I jotted down many of them, and discovered later our dear friend, the poet David Herrstrom, did the same. Quite independently each of us responded to Fran’s struggle, I with these drawings, David with a poem.” This book was displayed at the exhibit, as it was gifted to Monmouth University, alongside “The Frances Cycle” in 2008. Monmouth University now obtains over 300 prints, drawings, and paintings from Landau, sourced from the Jacob Landau Institute in Roosevelt, NJ.

In 1996, Landau received an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Monmouth University, connecting Landau to the institution. Monmouth annually honors Landau’s work in various gallery exhibitions of copious themes.