Westmoreland Museum of American Art
Gifford Beal: At the Water's Edge
A collection of paintings and works on paper, "Gifford Beal: At the Water's Edge," will be on view through April 23, 2000.
Organized by the Kraushaar Galleries in New York, this exhibition documents the artist's sojourns in Rockport, Massachusetts when he summered there during the 1920s and 1930s.
Whether it's lobstermen on the shore taking their traps to sea, a sword fisherman in the act, or fishermen hauling in their fishing nets, with his quickly applied brush strokes and marks on paper, Gifford Beal has captured a sense of the moment and the often frenetic activity of this arduous business. At the same time, however, these scenes of fishermen, whether moving deliberately against the sea, or caught against an expanse of sky, convey a tranquil and contemplative mood, It is a romantic view that reflects the artist's personal involvement with both the locale and its people. He encourages the viewer to stop and think about the challenging and often dangerous profession these men have chosen.
Stylistically and with his subject matter, Beal's work recalls that of other artists, such as Winslow Homer and William Merritt Chase, both of whom he admired. Beal's genre paintings are narrative and depict scenes from everyday life of the fishermen, their connection to the sea, their tradition and their dignity. His fishermen rarely look directly at the viewer, too consumed with their tasks at hand. According to Jeffrey Wechsler, author of the catalogue, "Beal averts the faces of these figures from the viewer; their role as timeless archetype is emphasized over their individuality."
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For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
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