HISTORY ON VIEW
Highlights for the 2018 exhibition season from museums across the United States
Henry James wrote,“live all you can; it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life.” Isabella Stewart Gardner lived life to the fullest and had the means to do it. Her art advisor, Bernard Berenson, wrote,“she lives at a rate and intensity, with a reality that makes other lives seem pale, thin and shadowy.”
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, once her home in Boston, is the site of the exhibition Henry
James and American Painting through January 21.The exhibition illustrates the relationships among the luminaries of the turn of the 20th century with works by John Singer Sargent, John La Farge, Lilla Cabot Perry and others.as part of its contemporary installations, the Gardner is displaying a piece by Elaine Reichek on the façade of the museum. Ever Yours, Henry James, on view through January 16, features the affectionate closings of James’ many letters to Mrs. Gardner on a monumental banner.
Letters feature in another woman’s home turned museum, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Pen to Paper:artists’ Handwritten Letters from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art will be at the museum February 9 to May 6.“During the heyday of the Lyme Art Colony, letter writing was an important tool used by Florence Griswold and visiting artists to communicate and confirm their travel plans. Once artists arrived at the Griswold boardinghouse, corresponding by mail was an important part of colony life.” Women artists feature in several exhibitions across the country. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine
Arts in Philadelphia will show
Graphic Women through February
18. It is “focused on the efflorescence of professional women artists in Philadelphia that occurred in the decades between 1880 and the early 20th century, this intimate exhibition features the work of Violet Oakley, her teacher Cecilia Beaux, and their contemporaries Mary Cassatt, Susan Macdowell Eakins, Mary Nimmo Moran,alice Barber Stephens and Lilian Westcott Hale, among many others.”
The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., will show Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today through January 21. Featuring artists who worked between 1891 and 1981, it “places abstract works by multiple generations of black women artists in context with one another—and within the larger history of abstract art—for the first time. Evocative prints, unconventional sculptures, and monumental paintings reveal the artists’ role as underrecognized leaders in abstraction.” Georgia O’keeffe: Art, Image, Style at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, runs through April 1.The exhibition explores “the art, image and personal style of one of America’s most iconic artists.”
Faith Ringgold: An American Artist will be shown at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California, February 18 through May 13. It features four decades of the artist’s work in many media.“it includes story quilts, tankas (inspired by Tibetan textile paintings called thangkas), prints, oil paintings, drawings, masks, soft sculptures, and original illustrations from the artist’s award-winning book Tar Beach.”
The Crocker will also be showing Power Up: Corita Kent’s Heavenly Pop, February 25 through May 13. Corita (1918-1986) was the subject of the first exhibition I ever curated.the museum calls her “nun, printmaker, activist.” She created colorful screenprints combining quotes and elements from popular culture to deliver a message of joy in the context of pursuing social justice.
Several exhibitions deal with the political and social unrest of the early decades of the 20th century.
1917/1918: Looking Backward, Stepping Forward at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art through
April 1, looks at the art being created away from the battlefields of World
War I in Germany and Austria.“as seen here, artists built on the legacies of Naturalism and Expressionism to evoke the texture and mood of a changing society agitated and energized by change.they also provided imagery for posters and periodicals, graphic forms of communication that inserted art into everyday life.”
The Robbers: German Art in a Time of Crisis will be at Maine’s Portland Museum of Art, February 16 to July 15. It focuses on two portfolios on prints produced around WWI by George
Grosz and Lovis Corinth, each based
on Friedrich Schiller’s 18th-century play The Robbers.the museum explains,“the installation also offers an opportunity to contrast the styles of German Expressionism and ‘New Objectivity.’ Expressionists often depicted emotional responses to the modern condition, frequently highlighting themes of angst, inner turmoil, and social alienation.the leaders of New Objectivity, however, rooted their prints in a type of biting, provocative realism, often relying on satire and caricature.”
On this side of the Atlantic, in the early years of the last century, artists were developing an American art. Grant Wood (1891-1942) painted his famed American Gothic, 1930, as a tribute to the steadfastness of the American character especially that of his native Midwest and Iowa. It was seen by the public, however, as satire. Nevertheless, the painting became one of country’s best known and most loved paintings. Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables at the Whitney Museum of American Art, March 2 through June 10, posits that “Wood’s career consists of far more than one single painting.”wood’s harmonious worlds, meant to assure a shaken nation after the Great Depression, also reflect “the anxiety of being an artist and a closeted gay man in the Midwest in the 1930s. By depicting his subconscious anxieties through populist images of rural America,wood crafted images that speak both to American identity and to the estrangement and isolation of modern life.”
Cult of the Machine will be at the de Young Museum in San Francisco March 24 to August 12.The exhibition “features over 100 masterworks of American Precisionism by such artists as Charles Sheeler, Georgia O’keeffe, and Charles Demuth. Precisionism emerged in the 1910s and flourished in the United
Counterclockwise from top: Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), Rolling Power, 1939. Oil on canvas, 15 x 30 in. The Smith College Museum of Art, SC. 1940:18. Courtesy the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. On view at Cult of the Machine at de Young Museum.;...