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Augustus Vincent Tack


Centurion, 1913–1949

Born 19 November 1870 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Died 22 July 1949 in Deerfield, Massachusetts

Buried Laurel Hill Cemetery, Deerfield, Massachusetts

Proposed by James Carroll Beckwith and Winthrop L. Rogers

Elected 6 December 1913 at age forty-three

Archivist’s Note: Father of Robert H. F. Tack

Century Memorial

Augustus Vincent Tack. [Born] 1870. Artist.

He painted portraits of the great of our country—statesmen and generals and judges—he painted murals for our buildings of state, his easel paintings are hung in our great museums. These conventional paintings he painted well, as would be expected of a pupil with whom Centurion John La Farge was pleased. But none of these paintings are truly Augustus Tack: Gus Tack was most himself in the abstractions which he painted for himself—mystical, elusive, full of charm and yet of that high excitement which moves those who feel emotion through the eyes.

He was a deeply religious man who had an intense concern for the mystical aspects of this faith. This is shown, probably most evidently, in his little book of spiritual reflections which he considered more himself than all his paintings—except perhaps the mystical ones in which he expressed his faith in paint.

But do not misunderstand: Tack was one of the gayest souls in this gay House. His first remembered appearance here was at our Twelfth Night in 1917 when he came as a ballet dancer and danced himself into the hearts of all.

Shortly afterwards we see him in our history as leader of the revolutionists who objected to the old custom of renting our Gallery to artist members for use as a salesroom; and Tack was made Chairman of the Art Committee in 1919. He was Chairman again from 1936 to 1944. Under his leadership many great exhibitions of paintings were held in our Gallery, each with impressive and well-documented catalogs that are a page of our greatest pride. This was all in contravention of the former custom of having monthly shows devoted to the work of artist members. But who that saw them can forget any of Gus’ exhibitions? From one, the religious exhibition, a Latin inscription still presides over our Gallery. We are more than a Club, as Gus saw clearly: we are also a great cultural institution, and the quality of all that we do in any present is of the essence for what we shall be in any future.

Do you remember him as he walked into the Century in his seventies, a high-stepping colt bent on pleasurable excitement? If not, you have missed something fine, something to be remembered as you grow old. But underneath that gay and smiling exterior there was a sensitiveness that brooded always.

He served for six years on the Board of Management, on the Committee on Admissions for three, on Stim for twenty-three; and he was chairman of the Committee on Art for ten years. And if this Club has learned the lesson he taught us, that our Gallery must sing peaens of praise to the great art of all time, then Gus will be happy for all time in the Heaven of his mystical dreams.

He was, I think, cast in a noble mould. He loved the Century and the Century loved him.

Source: Henry Allen Moe Papers, Mss.B.M722. Reproduced by permission of American Philosophical Society Library & Museum, Philadelphia

Henry Allen Moe
Henry Allen Moe Papers, 1949 Memorials