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From Realism to Abstraction: Art in New Mexico, 1917-2002


Remaining on view through October 26, 2003, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, is From Realism to Abstraction: Art in New Mexico, 1917-2002, an exhibition celebrating 20th century New Mexico art. Former director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Robert Ewing, is the guest curator of the exhibition. "The pieces selected for this exhibition are a testament to the breadth and scope of this important collection," said Ewing.  "It has been an exciting project and should be a rare treat for our visitors."

From the time of its opening in November 1917, the Museum of Fine Arts has assembled and maintained what is now the most comprehensive collection of New Mexico art.  From more than 20,000 objects Ewing selected 86 of his favorite pieces with an eye toward works that have not been on exhibit for some time. 

From Realism to Abstraction includes Bert Phillips' "The Three Musicians of the Baile" (1920-21), George Bellows' "Chimayo" (1917), William Penhallow Henderson's "San Miguel Church" (1964), Georgia O'Keeffe's "Blue River" (1936) and Leon Kroll's "Santa Fe Hills" (1917).  "What strikes me most when I look at these paintings is how intensely all of them were inspired by the landscape and the people of New Mexico," said Ewing. (left: George Bellows, Chimayo, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches, 1917)

The title From Realism to Abstraction refers to the movement of art in the 20th century from traditional realistic representations of subjects such as portraits, landscapes and still lifes, to a more contemporary approach, which allowed individual artists to explore new ways of expressing themselves. Abstraction, which originally meant the reduction of subject matter to its essentials, came to be applied to any non-representational work of art. The exhibit title also refers to the current state of art in New Mexico in which some artists are producing a new and vital form of realism, while others utilize abstraction to express their creativity.

"I would like to thank the staff of the Museum of Fine Arts for giving me the opportunity to revisit the permanent collection and for their support and expertise," said Ewing.  "Most especially, I want to recognize registrar Joan Tafoya, whose knowledge of the collection has been invaluable in the selection of this exhibition.  Thanks also to Margot Linton for her support of the video accompanying this exhibition."



Friday, January 3, 2003, 5:30 pm, Free Friday Gallery Talk, Robert Ewing.


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