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In the American Grain: Dove, Hartley, Marin, O'Keeffe and Stieglitz


In the American Grain: Dove, Hartley, Marin, O'Keeffe and Stieglitz, begins Sunday, June 6 and continues through August 22, 2004 at The Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The exhibition examines the remarkable history of the Stieglitz Circle through forty-five paintings and photographs. Emerging from the shadow of European modernism, each of these artists that Alfred Stieglitz championed developed an independent vision and mature style in America. Visitors will observe the ideas and subjects that Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin and Georgia O'Keeffe shared and explore influential aspects of twentieth century art. In the American Grain: Dove, Hartley, Marin, O'Keeffe, and Stieglitz is organized by The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. (right: Marsden Hartley, Wood Lot, Maine Woods, 1938)


Alfred Stieglitz - Gallery Owner

From 1907 to 1917, Alfred Stieglitz's gallery 291 was at the center of a community of artists and critics pursuing new directions in the arts. The Stieglitz Circle addressed broad philosophical and aesthetic issues calling for change in the economics of art, patronage and the role of the artist in society. As the first to exhibit works by Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso, as well as the first to publish Kandinsky's writings on abstraction, Alfred Stieglitz was the undisputed leader of modernism in America prior to the 1913 Armory Show.


Duncan Phillips - Art Patron and Critic

After the First World War, long after he had closed 291, Stieglitz remained committed to the work of four painters -- Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin and Georgia O'Keeffe. In 1925, he reopened a gallery in New York. That same year, collector Duncan Phillips added a room to his Washington D.C. museum specifically dedicated to new American paintings. Few could have predicted the rapport that ultimately developed between Stieglitz and Phillips. Phillips was a wealthy art patron and conservative critic whose review of the 1913 Armory Show dismissed abstraction and the European avant garde in one sweeping condemnation. After World War I, however, changes in both men led to common ground. Both came to believe in exploring the frontiers of new American painting in intimate gallery spaces and dedicated their lives and fortunes to making that experience possible. (right: John Marin, Pertaining to Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street,1933)


The Stieglitz Circle

From 1926 to 1946, the Stieglitz Circle claimed the lion's share of Phillips' interest in living American artists. He acquired the world's largest and most representative group of works by Arthur Dove. Phillips also collected representative examples of every aspect of John Marin's development, as well as signal works by Georgia O'Keeffe and Marsden Hartley, and photographs by Alfred Stieglitz. Together the works comprised a cohesive unit of almost a hundred paintings, drawings and photographs. (right: Georgia O'Keeffe, Red Hills and the Sun, Lake George, 1927)

Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin and Georgia O'Keeffe were associated personally and aesthetically with Alfred Stieglitz for almost forty years. Each had gravitated at a young age to Stieglitz's 291 on Fifth Avenue. By 1915, each of them to varying degrees, subscribed to Kandinsky's theory that purely abstract forms could communicate feelings and ideas. Stieglitz had welcomed and exhibited these young Americans on the basis of their creative vitality. His commitment manifested itself in various ways. He offered financial and moral support at a time when European modernism claimed most public attention and patronage; he aligned his own art -- particularly his Equivalents -- with their subjects and themes; and he enlisted an emerging generation of writers and intellectuals including Sherwood Anderson, William Carlos Williams, Paul Rosenfield and Waldo Frank to speak out on their behalf.


Arthur Dove - Artist

In January 1926, Duncan Phillips visited Room 303 three times to see an exhibition of paintings by Arthur Dove. As early as 1910, Dove had been the first American artist to abandon any hint of narrative content in his paintings, creating works that alluded to nature but only in the most abstract symbolic sense. In the 1920s, he returned to the world of objects with a series of collages. Later, in the 1930s and 40s, Dove demonstrated stylistic breadth by liberating line to suggest growth, decay and sexual forces, works that comprise some of the strongest abstractions in Phillips' collection. (right: Arthur G. Dove, Me and the Moon,1937)


Marsden Hartley - Artist

Marsden Hartley's dark landscapes were first exhibited at 291 in 1909. In 1912, Hartley moved to Europe where he was influenced by Kandinsky's new theories of painting, leading him to devise his first abstractions. At Stieglitz's urging, he returned to the United States in 1930 and settled permanently in Maine. His late work expressed profound emotions that resonated in the haunting seascapes and mountains of his home state.


John Marin - Artist

John Marin met Alfred Stieglitz in Paris in 1909. He was perhaps Stieglitz's most constant artist friend, with their personal and professional association lasting until Stieglitz's death in 1946. Marin was recognized as a master of his medium, a superb draftsman and virtuoso in watercolor. Early in his career in Paris, Marin began an exploration of vigorous strokes of color as he responded freely to his own moods and states of the weather. Returning to America, he was among the first to capture the tempo and pace of New York City. Although he shared Hartley's attraction to the rugged northern terrain of Maine, his staccato cubist rhythms presented a marked contrast to Hartley's brooding forms.


Georgia O'Keeffe - Artist

Both Dove and Stieglitz believed that Georgia O'Keeffe's emotionally direct painting had set a standard for them to follow. Her semi-abstract charcoals seemed utterly new and without debt to any of the European artists whom Stieglitz had exhibited at 291. He immediately asked to show her work. After 291 closed, O'Keeffe became the central focus of his life and they were married in 1924. Beginning in 1918, Stieglitz and O'Keeffe spent part of every year at Lake George in the Adirondacks. During this time, Stieglitz challenged conventions of representations in his own photography, finding timeless, personal forms in the direction, shape and variations of clouds, later calling these Equivalents. In 1929, O'Keeffe began to make regular sojourns to New Mexico. These trips became nearly annual until she moved there permanently after Stieglitz's death in 1946.


Exhibition Catalogue

The special exhibition is accompanied by a 196 page catalogue highlighting the relationship between Stieglitz, Phillips and the artists in the exhibition. It features excerpts from letters between Duncan Phillips and Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz.


Selected Artistic Programming

Lecture with Michael Farrell
Sunday, June 6, 2pm.
Popular speaker Michael Farrell returns to Philbrook with a fascinating look at the artists featured in the exhibition, particularly Georgia O'Keeffe and her relationship with husband and mentor Alfred Stieglitz. Farrell is Associate Professor of Art at the University of Windsor, Canada, and promises an entertaining and enlightening presentation on these iconic American artists.
Film - Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye
Sundays, June 13 and August 8, 2pm.
The film presents a revealing look at the "Father of Modern Photography," Alfred Stieglitz, a creative genius who challenged and revolutionized attitudes toward modern art in America and championed the recognition of photography as an art form.
Performance - Robin Lane as Georgia O'Keeffe
Sunday, June 27, 2pm.
Robin Lane, actress, author and director, has been bringing history to life since 1980. Her portrayal of Georgia O'Keeffe is among her acclaimed one-woman productions Artful Lives: Living Portraits of Women Artists which have been presented to enthusiastic audiences at museums throughout the country.


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rev. 7/11/09

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